RPW Column: More On Stafford’s Move Away From NASCAR, Nicole LaRose’s Sponsorship Winner & More…

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Hot on the heels of the announcement that the Stafford Motor Speedway had dropped their NASCAR sanction comes word that Speedway officials have announced a $33,000 point fund along with plans for a new Stafford Speedway licensing program for Stafford’s 5 weekly divisions.

“We’ve replaced NASCAR licensing with Stafford Speedway licensing,” explained Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute. “Weekly drivers along with crew members will be required to hold a Stafford Speedway license. A portion of Stafford Speedway TV revenue will be used to establish a point fund for all 5 of Stafford’s weekly divisions totaling $33,000.”

With the departure from NASCAR, participants will no longer need to purchase a NASCAR license to compete at Stafford in 2021. All drivers competing in any of Stafford’s 5 weekly racing divisions will be required to hold a Stafford Speedway Driver’s License. Additionally any crew member that participates in infield pitting will be required to hold a Stafford Speedway Crew license. Stafford Speedway licenses can now be purchased online and are offered at a discount rate until March 1, 2021.

The 2021 Stafford Speedway point fund will increase over 60% compared to the 2020 NASCAR awards. In addition, instead of the top 5 in 4 of the divisions receiving awards, the Stafford Speedway Point Fund will include all 5 weekly divisions. The top 15 in the SK Modifieds and the top 10 in Stafford’s other 4 divisions will participate in the point fund. The 2021 point fund will be partially funded by Stafford Speedway TV sales which allocates 25% of every live stream purchased to Stafford Speedway competitors.

The point fund boasts $15,000 in prize money for Stafford’s SK Modified division, $7,500 for the Late Models, $3,900 for the SK Light Modifieds and Limited Late Models, and $2,700 for the Street Stocks.

“By going independent, we are excited about the new direction we are taking and are optimistic about the opportunities that we can pursue,” continued Arute. “The enhanced point fund will benefit 55 teams, instead of the 20 that were previously recognized. This is an effort to reward the teams that race at Stafford weekly. We believe that our weekly race teams are some of the best in the country and will continue to put our focus on strengthening our weekly series.”

Congratulations to Stafford Speedway SK Modified driver Tony Membrino Jr. who landed new sponsorship for his team that he was hardly expecting. The veteran driver won the fourth annual @nlarophoto Sponsorship Drawing put on by Nicole LaRose. Membrino’s name was drawn from more than 300 entrants for the $5,000 sponsorship for the 2021 season.

The 20-year old LaRose, who serves as a multimedia reporter at Stafford Speedway, is the daughter of veteran short track racer Ernie LaRose. Each year LaRose produces a racing calendar of short track photos she takes. Each person who purchases a calendar gets to enter a name for the drawing for the $5,000 sponsorship.

In addition to the $5,000 sponsorship, Membrino also won 25 gallons of Sunoco racing fuel from New England Racing Fuel as part of the drawing.

The countdown to speedweeks in Florida continues as only four weeks remain before action begins at the Daytona International Speedway and at the New Smyrna Speedway. The Modifieds run at New Smyrna starting on Monday, Feb 8 and will finish up with the Richie Evans 100 on Friday, Feb 12.

The New London-Waterford has announced their schedule for 2021.The Saturday Championship Race Season begins on May 8th with the traditional Blast-Off 2021. Saturday racing continues into October ending on the weekend of October 15th-17th with The Finale.

Highlights of the schedule include a new SK® Modified Fast Five Series. Drivers who compete in each of the extra distance races will earn extra money, and points will be accumulated to crown a champion at the end of the five races. Also new this year is the three race Triple Threat Series. This series of three races will be held on June 12th, August 21st, and the final on October 21st. Details about those two programs will be finalized in the near future and additional information will be released.

The Open Street Stocks return for five events during the Saturday Championship Season. This season the Open Street Stocks will be following a rules package very much like what was used for the Northeast Street Stock Championship Event, which was held at Smacktoberfest this past season.

The Pro-4 Modifieds return for five events in 2021. Also, NEMA and the Granite State Pro Stock Series will return for events.

The Wild n Wacky Wednesday race program returns this year beginning on Wednesday, May 19th and finishing with Championship Night on September 1st. As always, Wednesdays will feature the Super-X Cars, X-Cars, Bandoleros and Legend Cars. The Vintage Midget Racing Series will join the Wednesday night events on seven occasions this season. In addition to Wednesday nights, the Super-X Cars, X-Cars, and the Bandoleros can be found competing on select Saturday events during the season.

Finally there are two Family Fun Events scheduled this season. The first one is slated for Sunday, May 23rd and will feature Spectator Drags, Ladies Enduro, Truck/SUV Enduro and Round 1 of the Compact Enduro Championship. New this season, the top 10 finishers in each event of this five race series will earn points towards a championship that will be crowned at Smacktoberfest.

Pre-season action at the Connecticut shoreline oval begins on Sat, April 24 and Sat, May 1 with open practice.

May 10, 1968, after two rain-outs, Eddie Flemke made it two in a row despite a lot of pressure from Bugsy Stevens, who finished second. Fred DeSarro finished third and was followed by Sal Dee and Lou Toro. The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

On a sad note, John F Hall Jr. 86 of Branford Ct., passed away on January 1st, 2021. John will be remembered most for his friendship and leadership in the auto racing world. He spent 40+ years in the sport he loved not only as a racecar driver but as an official scorer and handicapper for the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and Riverside Park Speedway. He was well known and loved as a racecar owner for his daughter and son in law. His most prized accomplishments were his race wins and his championship trophy as a racecar owner.

He was a Motor Vehicle Inspector in Waterbury Ct. for 27 years. He also volunteered his time working for the New Haven Nighthawks Hockey Team for nearly 35 years. He had celebrated 52 wonderful years of marriage with his wife Claudette (Tibbetts) Hall. He was preceded in death by his parents John and Etta Hall as well as his son James Hall. Surviving him are his daughters Laurie Lucibello (Andy), Judy Cook (Doug), Diane Funaro (Frank) and Rosi Waterhouse (Jon), his son Alan Hall (Maria), stepson Billy Pierson (Kathy) and daughter in law Liz Hall. He also leaves behind 12 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

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