Yankeeracer.com press release (September 16, 2015): This offseason will be the end of a long road for Vault Productions.
Writer and Director Tom ‘Sid’ DiMaggio of Lyme, CT. DiMaggio has mixed emotions about tomorrow. He is both anxious and relieved for Thursday night’s release of A Chronological History of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
“I’ve honestly grown tired of saying ‘I’m working on this documentary,’ so happy that I’m in the final editing stage now,” DiMaggio said. “We still have about 7 interviews left to shoot, but they are all with people from very recent history. So the grind isn’t over, but it is relieving that we’re in the homestretch.”
The film opens with building the track in 1950 and takes you through the immense crowd that showed on the opening day. 20 interviews cover the origin of Modifieds and racing in the first decade of operation 1951-1961. It also covers the primitive safety standards of the era, including the famed flagman that started races on the track before running across the track. The credits features outtakes. The edit tries to match as many photos with the stories or drivers being discussed.
“The doc series is really combining the video (sidsview) with the stats (speedbowlhistory.com). I would hope it expands our brand. The doc is actually a totally different production than Sid’s View. Sid’s View is all about race day – the edit is easy, the hard part is getting cameras in the right place and trying not to miss anything. With the doc series, the shoot is easy, it’s the post-production that is all the work, with all the format transfers, color correcting, music, graphics, etc.”
“But I’m a video editor more than anything else, that’s my true passion. So the doc series, while an overwhelming at times amount of work, is right up my alley. This will probably be the biggest project I ever produce on my own, i.e. no investors.”
The documentary will be free to view on YouTube, similar to the Sid’s View videos. One of the biggest obstacles was the use of music. the first part of the film uses 16 pieces of music and is expected to be the shortest film.
“Fortunately nowadays, there are several websites that offer good quality music to use in monetized videos on YouTube or Vimeo.”
The long-awaited documentary series on the history of the New London-Waterford (CT) Speedbowl is the culmination of years of work for the team. Tom DiMaggio started researching the 1/3-mile oval in August 2005. The concept of a documentary was born in October 2008 and the first interview was shot in January 2010.
DiMaggio had a vision for the film but had to realize his time and budget limits first.
“I knew this project would be huge …. There were some things I just wasn’t going to be able to do and once I accepted those limitations, I was able to focus on all the great resources I do have and still make something really enjoyable to watch.”
The Vault Productions team consists of Co-Producer Jesse Gleason, Production Assistants Kathleen Courtemanche, and Brent Gleason. Steve Appleby and Teisha DiMaggio assisted with cameras.
“Jesse Gleason did most of the camera work during our interviews and provided some great archive footage. Kathy Courtemanche did a lot of Production Assistant work scheduling interviews for us when we were at our peak conducting those. Brent Gleason, Steve Appleby and my wife Tiesha have also helped along the way.”
The popular Sid’s View: An Original Short Track Racing Series covers current weekly racing at New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Highlights from Sunday’s Dunleavey’s Truck and Trailer Repair 100 included the debut of ‘Flagger Cam,’ camera glasses worn by flagger John Spence, Jr.
“While we hope it gives great exposure to the track and the race teams, it’s also building a really cool video archive of the Speedbowl’s weekly events that people can go back and watch whenever they want. This doc series will provide a condensed version of that for previous eras…. at least that’s my hope. People will be able to easily watch something about legendary drivers like Bill Slater or Red Foote or Don Collins and their careers at NLWS.”
As we lose past generations of the Speedbowl family, preserving their stories becomes more significant. Several track champions have passed away since the project started. The Bill Sweet and Peg Gaudreau are included in the first part of the documentary.
“We’ve built friendships with their families during this whole process and we definitely cherish those as well. Some people like Red Foote, Dick Beauregard, Bill Slater & Billy Simons all fell ill and eventually passed before we had (a) chance to interview them. But their stories should live on and we hope we’re contributing to that for sure.”
The New London-Waterford Speedbowl has faced an uncertain future in recent years, staving off foreclosure auctions and sales. Bruce Bemer purchased the track last October and is operating the track this season with General Manager Shawn Monahan.
“There was always things changing with ownership and operational control of the track. It’s actually what makes its survival for 65 seasons even more remarkable.”
DiMaggio had to learn how to transfer a variety of old formats to use in the film.
“A lot of our archives were donated as 8mm film, or cassette tapes. I even have one reel of video on a U-matic tape. Not only is that old technology, it’s rare. So there are challenges but we’ve really come across some great archive footage, including the track being built and the original dirt track. So in the end, it’s been worth it.”
“Thanks to the numerous people along the way that have helped us. Giving us contact info for someone we were trying to find, donating pics or old programs or trade papers or footage. Literally hundreds of people have helped and we couldn’t be more appreciative of everyone’s support.”
DiMaggio intends to release a new segment every 6-8 weeks and have the complete film published by the start of next season.
Sid’s View could expand to another track like they have done in the past at Thompson (CT) Speedway Motorsports Park. Next season will feature a more robust Sid’s View than this year’s “scaled back” crew and cameras.
“If there really is going to be facility improvements this offseason, we’ll be ready to film those too.”
Sources: Nicholas Teto/YankeeRacer.com