The following is an excerpt from Ron Hedger's NYSSCA HOF Induction Press
Release for 2009 which describes not only U-R promoter (and HOF Inductee) Dick
Waterman, but the track during his tenure as well:
Dick Waterman, with partner Bernie Ingersoll, a retired local racer, bought the Utica-
Rome Speedway from Joe Lesik, who built the speedway just outside the village of
Vernon, NY in 1961. A paved quarter-mile, Waterman would later enlarge Utica-
Rome slightly but it remained tight and anyone who won a NASCAR feature there
had to handle constant lapped traffic as well as his pursuers.
Waterman’s genius was in creating a Sunday night battle between New York
favorites and invading New Englanders, with his overhead late model class
sending a constant stream of local talent to the "A" class, which for a while
combined sportsman and modifieds and then became strictly modifieds.
The cast constantly changed but it was not unusual to see Bill Wimble, Jerry Cook,
Richie Evans, Lou Lazzaro, Sonney Seamon, Kenny Shoemaker, Lou Smith, Frank
Mathalia, Dick Clark, Bernie Miller, Dick Fowler, Dave Lape, Bill Henry and the
Kotary clan defending their turf against such noted invaders as Rene Charland,
Eddie Flemke, Bugsy Stevens, Freddy DeSarro, Fats Caruso, Pete Hamilton, Don
McTavish, Ronnie Narducci and Bobby Santos.
And Waterman, to assure his fans saw the best possible show, would hold the
feature until a handful of point chasers made the mad dash across the Mass Pike
and up the Thruway from Thompson, CT’s afternoon show to tag the field.
His biggest promotion each season was the New Yorker 400, run the night before
Labor Day, attracting point chasers from the south such as Joe Thruman, even more
New Englanders and a huge crowd to watch the non-stop action.
Waterman sold the speedway and adjacent drag strip in 1979, with the new owners
converting it to dirt. But Waterman remains a racing fan and still attends Sprint Cup
events at Bristol and Pocono each year, often with Wimble, a long-time friend and
one-time Utica-Rome official after retiring from competition.
Utica -Rome fell silent for a few years during the early 80's until being resurrected
by Jim Beachy and Jack Johnson in the mid-80's as ''New Venture Speedway'.
The track was converted to a 1/2 mile configuration and the pavement was turned
over to clay. The new layout continues to thrive today under the direction of owner
Gene Cole who has transformed Utica-Rome into undoubtedly the nicest short
track racing facility in New York State. Healthy car counts and crowds continue to
enjoy racing at 'The Action Track' which shows no signs of slowing down. The
photo's contributed within these pages have been forwarded by John Grady, Allen
Clark and Alan Weaver, (amongst others) and depict the track during it's Nascar
Sanctioning years of the 1960's, thanks guys, they're great!