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2000 Year in Review

Terry 2000 (dugas)
Promoter Terry Eames became the Speedbowl's owner in 2000 and brought a NASCAR sanction to the shoreline oval (Rene Dugas photo)
The Speedbowl entered the new millenium with significant changes at the track. For the 3rd time since it was originally built, the track property was sold. Waterford Sports Center, Inc, who had bought the property from Harvey Tattersall in February 1989, sold the track to 1080 Hartford Road, LLC a group headed by Terry Eames. Eames had been the track operator & promoter since the 1995 season. His first big announcement as track owner was that the Waterford Speedbowl would operate under a NASCAR sanction for the first time since 1987.  The sanction became available when the legendary 1/4 mile track at Riverside Park (MA) Speedway closed after the 1999 season.  SK Modified drivers became eligible to compete both regionally and nationally with other sanctioned short tracks through the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series.  The Late Models became eligible for NASCAR's Exide Shortrack Series.  The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series would return after over a decade absence and the NASCAR Busch North Series would add the Speedbowl to their schedule as well. 

On June 3rd, Phil Rondeau celebrated at the time, what was recognized as his 100th Late Model feature at the shoreline oval – 2 days shy of his 1-year anniversary for capturing his apparent 100th overall Speedbowl win – (our subsequent research has concluded 7 of those victories were from other drivers in Rondeau team cars – 5 by Phil's brother Al and 2 more by Ron Hoyle).  Phil once again fell short of a 7th title when he finished 18 points behind Jay Stuart.  The long time rivalry between the two crafty veterans continued throughout the 2000 season.  Stuart led the divisions in wins (6), including the season-opening 50 lapper, en route to the championship and also earned NASCAR's Exide Shortrack New England Region Championship as well.  Rondeau had 5 wins, while Chris "Moose" Douton won 4 times and swept the two 100 lap events in his first season in the division.  After season's end, the American Challenge experiment was over and by the time the 2001 season rolled around, the division was once again called Late Models. 

Ted Christopher became the Speedbowl's all-time SK Modified wins leader when he won the May 6th event.  It was his 30th SK win at the shoreline oval, one better than previous record holder and 6-time track champion Bob Potter (Potter, of course, has 58 more victories in the pre-SK Modified areas prior to 1985).  It was the 12th different season to date in which Christopher won a feature event at Waterford.  Dennis Gada repeated as SK Champion to join his father Bob and brother Dave as 2-time Champions.  Mark Lajeunesse won the rain shortened 101 lap event during the Budweiser Modified NationalsTucker Reynolds Jr won the 100 lap portion of the Pepsi 300 while Ron Yuhas Jr won his second consecutive Town Fair Tire Finale 100.

Fox Sports Network had a regional racing recap show in 2000 called New England Dodge Motorsports Weekly hosted by Brett Roubinek.  It featured highlights from many short tracks in the northeast including the Speedbowl.  At the left is a segment with highlights from the Sept 16th event.

Waterford start and cans-HHodge
The Busch North Budweiser 150 was one of several new events that came to the Speedbowl under the NASCAR sanction in 2000 (Howie Hodge photo)
Former weekly SK Modified competitor, Ed Flemke Jr set a new lap time record for NASCAR's Modified Tour with a 13.971 qualifying time trial for the New England Dodge Dealers 150.  The event was won by Jerry Marquis after Mike Christopher, driving the Billy Calechio #14 car, was disqualified in post race inspection.  Dennis Demers set the NASCAR Busch North lap time record while qualifying for the Budweiser 150.  Brad Leighton won the event.

The Strictly Stock division was renamed Sportsman in 2000 and there were 12 different winners during the season, led by Shawn Monahan and Ray Downing Jr who both made 3 trips to victory lane.  Ted Dupre won his first Championship over Diego MonahanChris "Moose" Douton won the season ending 50 lapper on the same day he won the Late Model 100 lap event.  At the time, he joined the legendary Don Collins, who did it over 40 years prior, as the only competitors to win feature events in separate divisions on the same day. Shawn Monahan won the 50 lapper in July, Joe Mancini Jr won the season opening 30 lap event.

Jerry Pearl and his son Jeff were honored as two of the Speedbowl's 50 Favorite Drivers by event organizer Dave Dykes in 2000 (Rene Dugas photo)

To begin it's 6th season as part of the Saturday night series, the Mini Stocks were moved from their traditional 6pm feature start and became part of the regular rotation of division features which concluded each Saturday's program.  The 4 cylinder division embraced the main stage with a season long championship battle between the popular drivers Jimmy Pont and Roger Perry which went down to the Finale's season ending 50 lapper.  Roger Perry's championship bid collapsed when he crashed into the front stretch wall after contact with Jim Rix Jr.  His crew got him back on the track, albeit many laps down, to an appreciative roar from his fans.  Pont, who finished the race in 4th, capped off a consistent season which included 17 top 10's, 10 top 5's, 1 feature win and his first track championship. Perry won the extra-distance 30 lapper to open the season. Jeff Miller and Bruce Thomas won the two 50-lap events.

During the Nostalgia Weekend event on Saturday July 29th, the Speedbowl enveiled their 50 Favorite Drivers list as part of their 50th season celebration. All living members were in attendance. For more about this event click here.

Fan favorite Tucker Reynolds Jr won the Most Popular SK Modified Driver award for a division record 5th consecutive year.

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