WATERFORD — There’s an old cliché in motor sports — if your standing pat, you’re going backward.
Even though he won a Mini Stock championship at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in 2015, no one can accuse Wayne Burroughs of standing pat — or going backward.
When the green flag drops on the Mini Stock division Saturday at the season opening 10-division Blastoff, Burroughs will be in a brand new car.
“Our old car was a few years old,” Burroughs said. “We felt is we could build a new one, we could find a little more speed.
“Last year, we knew the other drivers were catching up to us. We won three races in the month of May and didn’t win again until August, so we knew if we wanted to stay ahead of the game, we had to try something new. Our old car had maxed out.”
Work started on the new car in October and it was finished on Saturday, just before the opening Speedbowl practice of the year.
“The car went a lot smoother than I had anticipated,” Burroughs said. “In our second round of practice, we were at the top of the speed chart, which was very satisfying.”
Burroughs has been a regular at the Speedbowl for four seasons and enjoyed his best year in 2015. He grabbed four victories and led the points from the opening race of the season.
This season Burroughs is out to prove that he’s not a one-hit wonder.
“We want to be a team that competes for a championship year after year, the way Ken Cassidy and some of the other contenders do,” Burrough said. “Our goal is to show people last year wasn’t a fluke. We think we can back it up with another great season.”
While Burroughs led the division in points, he didn’t lead the division in wins. That honor went to Ken Cassidy Jr. who won five times, giving him a division leading 64 wins.
Cassidy, however, has started 2016 with a major change.
“We have changed motor builders,” Cassidy said. “We went with what we could afford. Maybe the car isn’t as pretty as it usually is, but I think we have enough to give it everything we have. Maybe the driver can pick up a couple of tenths here and there.”
Cassidy says his goal for 2016 is the same as it always is.
“We’re always running for a title,” Cassidy said. “That’s not going to change. And the key to that is to be consistent. You have to finish races to finish first. That’s what pays the most.”
Cassidy is coming off back-to-back second-place seasons. In 2014, he blew three motors during the year and finished second to Garrett Denton. Last year he missed two races because of illness and finished second to Burroughs.
“That was a bummer,” Cassidy said. “And this year is going to be tougher than ever. The car counts I think are going to be up and I think a lot of good drivers are coming into the division. It’s going to be harder than ever to drive to the front.”
Brad Caddick, who finished third in the standings, also has a new ride. He is looking for a last hurrah — he has said 2016 will be his final season.
Doug Curry, who finished fifth in 2016, has a new look as well. He will be driving the Mini Stock owned by Jeff Civardi.
Larry Loomis is expected to return, along with Chris Ivory, Nick Pappacoda, Ian Brew, Dale Sherman, Charles Canfield, Sean Caron, Mark Panaroni and Jordan Hadley.
One of the youngest drivers will be 14-year-old Jacob Perry, who will be moving up from the Bandelero division.
The Mini Stocks is just one of the apples in the season-opening orchard. Also on the docket for Saturday’s blastoff are the following divisions: the SK Modifieds (35 laps), the Late Models (30 laps), the Limited Sportsmen (25 laps), the Magnus Pacing Products SK Lights (25 laps), the Joie of Seating Legend Cars (25 laps), the Micro Blue Bandoleros (20 laps), the X Cars (20 laps) and the Coastline Fire Protection Super X Cars (20 laps). It is expected to be one of the most competitive openers in Speedbowl history.
The guest division will be the Mr. Rooter Truck Series, which will compete in a 25-lap feature.
Qualifying gets under way Saturday at 2 p.m. and the features are scheduled to roll off at 5:30 p.m.
Admission is $22 for adults, $5 for youths 13-16. Children 12 and under are admitted free.