COMMENTARY BY DAVE DYKES, Speedway Scene Columnist and Waterford Speedbowl Historian.
Your author spends a lot of time tracking past exploits of the pioneers of Speedbowl history. Along the way, I guess that I've probably researched literally hundreds of local racing careers. It runs the gamut from "The Great", to the "Not so Great". However, one name stands out above the rest, and is continually mentioned whenever Waterford history is debated. That man's name is Don Collins. If ever a legitimate racing folk hero emerged from the confines of the 50 year old facility, it would have to be this guy.
distance events (50 laps or more), in a career that yielded a total of 94 Modified victories, and 6 Non-Ford triumphs. It was no walk in the park - the caliber of drivers running at the Bowl during Collins' tenure was nothing short of fantastic. Slater, Beauregard, Webster, Stack, Luchesi, Foote, - they were all there. As astonishing as it sounds, Collins was able to nail down 23 feature event wins in the course of one season. In 1960, the youthful chauffer was first at the checkers 17 times in the Modifieds, and 6 times in the Non Fords.
For the record, Collins would earn the right to be called Track Champion in 1955, '57, '60, '63, and 1969. In his book "A Racing History of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl", John Brouwer Sr. would go on to state that "Collins was the personification of all the qualities that make a good driver", and that "he was good in every car he drove". Brouwer, long a part of the Speedbowl, was there to see it and his comments aren't to be taken lightly - Collins was that good.
Retiring during the early stages of the 1970 season (after the first event, to be exact), he would hand over the driving chores of the famed Simons Bros. # 9 to another Bowl great, the late Charlie Webster. Ironically, Webster would also retire before the end of the season. Only the ageless Bob Potter has eclipsed the lofty status of the Collins legacy, with his record of 6 championships.
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