RPW Column: The Champ Trail: One Last Night Of Fun At Stafford, Great Weekend For Owen & More

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – There were smiles coming down from the heavens following the Friday night SK Modified feature at Stafford.

Jack Arute Sr had invented the SK Modified division back in the 80’s and on Friday night David Arute made his grandfather proud as he won the feature in a green-white checkered finish. Equally as proud were David’s parents, Mark and Lisa Arute who operate the Stafford Motor Speedway.

High drama was the name of the game in the final moments. With 10 laps to go, Matt Vassar was in the lead with Teddy Hodgdon, Noah Korner, Arute, and Marcello Rufrano giving chase. Hodgdon was closing in on Vassar and with 5 laps to go, was right on Vassar’s back bumper. Korner and Arute were also closing in on the lead duo to make it a 4-car train for the lead and the win. Hodgdon made a pass to the inside of Vassar in turn 1 on lap-38 to take over the lead but Vassar came back to the inside of Hodgdon in turn 3 with a bottom shot crossover move and the two cars touched with Hodgdon going around to bring the caution out and set up a green white checkered finish. Vassar was sent to the rear of the field by Stafford officials for making contact with Hodgdon. It appeared that Hodgdon was just as much at fault as he dropped a bit to block. This put Korner and Arute on the front row with Christopher and Rufrano in row 2 for the restart.

Korner took the lead but as the field came to the white flag, several cars got together in turn 3 including Cory DiMatteo, Troy Talman, Dan Wesson, Jon Puleo, and P.J. Peters to bring the caution back out. The next restart saw Arute take the lead by a nose at the line as the field took the white flag. Arute and Korner raced side by side over the final lap and they touched coming out of turn 4 to the checkered flag with Arute edging Korner out by a nose to record his first SK Modified® points paying feature win after winning the TC 13 Shoot Out on September 10. Rufrano finished third with Mike Christopher Jr fourth and Tyler Hines rounding out the top-5.

Todd Owen clinched the SK Modified® championship a week previous and he celebrated his championship in NAPA Victory Lane along with the other four track champions.

In other Friday night season ending action, Adam Gray won the Late Model feature, Tyler Barry started fourth in the SK Light feature which went non-stop and scored his first win, Jeremy Lavoie won his fourth Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar scored in the Street Stock feature. With NAPA Championship Night serving as the final race of the 2021 season, track championships were clinched by Michael Bennett in Late Model division, Derek Debbis in the SK Light division, Alexandra Fearn in the Limited Late Model feature, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. in the Street Stock division. Alexandra Fearn made he debut in the Late Model division where she finished tenth.

Saturday night at the New London Waterford Speedbowl saw Todd Owen annex his second SK Modified Track Championship of the weekend. Owen’s sixth-place run, combined with a fifth-place effort by Cory DiMatteo, gave Owen an 8-point victory over DiMatteo in the standings.

Andrew Molleur pulled away from Mike Christopher after an early restart to rack up his third SK win of the season. Anthony Flannery finished third with Rob Janovic, fourth. DiMatteo rounded out the top five.

In other action, Jason Palmer romped to his 10th Late Model win of the year and vaulted into the point lead by two points over second-place finisher Ray Christian. Ethan Durocher struck for the first time in the SK Lite Modifieds, Nickolas Hovey pulled down his first Street Stock win,. Charles Canfield roared to his second straight Mini Stock victory and John O’Sullivan rolled to his eighth Legends win of the season, putting a padlock on the track title one race ahead of schedule.

The Modified Racing Series (MRS) presented twin 40 lap events at the Lee Speedway in New Hampshire. Jacob Perry scored his third series victory of the 2021 season. Perry also finished 13th in the second feature for the division, which is part of the Octoberfest weekend at Lee. Rusty Poland was the winner of the second 40 lapper

Down in the southland at the Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia, Brandon Ward won the SMART Racing Series Stanley Law Group 99. Caleb Heady finished second with Burt Myers, third. Max Zachem was the only New England entry. He finished 11th.

Rain spoiled the tribute to Ron Bouchard and his win in 1981 at the Talladega Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr was scheduled to drive the Race Hill Farm Buick that Bouchard drove to one of the most exciting finishes at the track. The entire event was rained out and rescheduled to Monday.

On tap this weekend, the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park presents the 59th annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing from Friday, October 8 to Sunday, October 10. The weekend is highlighted by the $20,000-to-win Sunoco Thompson 300 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. The 17-division program also includes the Sunoco Modified Triple Crown Series, ACT Late Model Tour, PASS Super Late Models, NEMA Midgets and Lites, all local divisions, and much more. Visit www.acttour.com/thompson-speedway for the full schedule of events. Three-day general admission to the Sunoco World Series is $75 for adults, $20 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under.

The Hartford Courant reported that on Wednesday, Sept 29, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the April 2019 conviction of New London-Waterford Speedbowl owner Bruce Bemer. The court ruled 7-0 that prosecutors in the case against Bemer did not prove he knew that men he paid for sex acts were victims of human trafficking.

The 67-year old Bemer was convicted in April 2019 of four counts of patronizing a trafficked individual and also of an accessory to a sex trafficking operation. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison but He has been out on an appeal bond since his conviction.

According to the Hartford Courant: “The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Raheem L. Mullins, disagreed with both the prosecution and the jury.” The decision read: “In other words, the defendant asserts that the state did not produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate that he knew or reasonably should have known that the men were engaged in prostitution because they had been compelled or induced to do so by means of fraud or coercion. We agree.”

Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III, who prosecuted the case, said in a statement Wednesday evening reported by the Hartford Courant: “We’re disappointed in the decision and that the Connecticut Supreme Court did not see the evidence as the jury did.”

Now that the legal system has done its thing it will be interesting to see if NASCAR opens the sanction door to the shoreline oval. After all, what Bemer did or didn’t do is no worse than New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft did or didn’t do or how about the fact that Brian France was arrested on a drug charge. Interesting thoughts!

September 4, 1971 Stafford ran a 30 lap, double point event on Saturday night. Leo Cleary, took the win over Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller and Bob Santos

Labor Day weekend meant big money, extra distance races. The action started at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. on Friday night with a 250 lapper for the modifieds. Max Berrier, one of the hot dogs from North Carolina made one of his infrequent trips north pay off as he stole the show from the regulars. Fifty-five modifieds were on hand to qualify for the 30 starting spots. Guy Chartrand in the Hemi-Cuda of Ed Cloce was the pole sitter with Leo Cleary in the Mystic Missile on the outside. Berrier started seventh and wore the competition down to record the win. Eddie Flemke in the Art Barry No.09 finished second and was followed by Bernie Miller, Andy Romano, Denis Giroux, Richie Evans, Hop Harrington and Fred DeSarro. The action shifted to the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night where Richie Evans won the New Yorker 400 over Fred DeSarro, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Lou Lazzaro.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which 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 it! 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!

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