This past Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl (CT) saw a SK Modified feature take place without Nichole Morgillo’s familiar black No. 56 on the race track. Morgillo packed up and went home upon hearing from track officials that she would not be allowed to place in the track’s normal handicapping procedures.
The SK Modified division at Waterford uses a handicap system that is based on each driver’s finishes in the three previous events. Morgillo said she was expecting to have a good shot at the pole this past Saturday after a few rough weeks on the race track.
According to a Speedbowl press release, Morgillo was asked by race director Patrick Williams and race official Eric Webster to give up her spot in the handicap. The release states that, “Morgillo voluntarily agreed to relinquish a spot in the track’s handicap system used to determine starting lineups for feature racing, for Saturday’s race event only.”
“We have periodically asked competitors in other divisions this year to reconsider starting in the preferred handicap for a week, and it has gone well” Williams said. “Saturday was not an isolated case or request. When we walked away, the competitor was agreeable and we felt the meeting went well. The driver never approached myself or (Eric Webster) to say they had changed their mind or were upset with it”.
Morgillo had a different recollection about the events that led to her departure from the pit area.
“My spotter (Joey Ferrigno) gets to the race track and he gets informed from the race director that they’re taking my handicap tonight,” Morgillo told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “And they would like my spotter to tell me instead of them telling me.”
She said that her spotter refused to tell her and told Williams to tell Morgillo herself. She explained that at that point Williams then came to her trailer to tell her in person. She said that she never agreed to give up her handicap position.
“I just got frustrated,” said Morgillo. “I left the trailer. I don’t deal well with confrontation like that so I had to get out of the conversation.”
Morgillo decided later in the day to pack up her race car and head home.
“I watched the rest of the races in the bleachers hiding from everybody because I didn’t want to be bothered,” said Morgillo. “I watched the SK Modified race and I’ve never seen such a wreck fest. And the 56 was not out there. So I think they got the wrong guy.”
Morgillo is a feature winner at Waterford. She became the first woman to ever win an SK Modified feature at Waterford last September.
“I’m not a rookie driver,” said Morgillo. “I’m a talented, established driver.”
Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames said in the press release that the result of the situation was a “regrettable misunderstanding.”
“Our race department felt they had the best interest of a competitor in mind, a competitor we’re happy is part of our racing family” Eames continued. “Somehow it got turned into something completely different, which is a shame. We hope to see Nichole in the pit area very soon”.
Morgillo may be back at Waterford at some point, but it may not be soon. She told Speed51.com that she’s decided to run weekly at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT), located roughly an hour up the road from Waterford, for the rest of the season starting this Friday night.
“I’m totally embarrassed as an established driver there that has given that race track the respect,” said Morgillo. “I’ve been loyal and I’ve come back every single week for the last six years of racing there. I just felt like I was compared to a rookie driver and I was just totally embarrassed.”
She said that she does not know when she’ll come back to Waterford, but she does know that it’s going to take a lot on the track’s part to convince her to come back.
“I don’t know what it will take,” she said. “It would obviously take me starting on the pole. It would take an apology. I would like it to be on the social media just like all of my stuff is on the social media right now. It’s gonna take a lot.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT, NJ) – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Pit Photos by Robin