RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Stafford’s Busy In ’22, Islip 300 Was A Good One, & More…

RPW Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Stafford Motor Speedway has been the epicenter of Modified racing in New England for over 50 years and 2022 will be no different.

Jack Arute Sr started what has become a dynasty in New England auto racing. That dynasty continues today with the second and third generation taking the track foreward, almost a quarter of the way into the next century. Stafford has groomed its own feeder division in the name of the SK Lights which has provided competitors with opportunity to move up to the SK Modifieds or the open or tour type Modifieds. All Stafford competitors get worldwide exposure thanks to FloRacing which live streams every event.

The historic 50th running of the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® is set to take place at Stafford Speedway April 23 & 24, 2022 featuring the Open Modifieds. Stafford Speedway officials have announced over $130,000 in prize money including $15,000 to win the 50th Spring Sizzler® and $3,500 to win each of the NAPA Duel qualifying events.

The 50th edition of the Spring Sizzler® will feature 32 starters with the field set by two 40 lap “Duel” races held Saturday April 23rd. The top 10 finishers in each duel will transfer to Sunday’s 100 lap NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. Saturday’s NAPA Duel race lineups will be set by 8 lap heat races. All drivers not advancing from the Duel will compete in 1 of 2 Last Chance Qualifier events held on Sunday, with the top 5 in each transferring to the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.

“We want to make this event memorable,” explained Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute. “50 years of Spring Sizzler® history deserves a huge event. Each of the NAPA Duel races will pay $3,500 to win and will pay throughout the entire field. The 50th NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® will be 100 green flag laps, teams can change 2 tires, and will pay $15,000 to win. There will be lap money and multiple bonuses available to teams competing.”

The Open Modifieds will be joined by 7 other divisions over the course of two days marking a big weekend for short track racing in Connecticut. New for 2022, the PASS Super Late Model Series will make their return to Stafford Speedway to compete in a 75 lap race as part of Saturday’s action. Also on the card for Saturday will be Stafford’s Street Stocks, Limited Late Models, and the Vintage All-Stars®.

The 2022 Stafford Speedway schedule was released on Thurs, Nov11. 24 race days make up the 2022 calendar highlighted by 12 special events kicking off with the 50th anniversary of the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® April 23rd and 24th. Weekly racing will continue to be the core of the Stafford Speedway schedule with the SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light Modified, Limited Late Model, and Street Stock divisions running weekly from May through September.

“Weekly racing continues to be very important to us at Stafford,” explained Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute. “The racing in each of our weekly divisions this year was excellent. There’s endless talent in all 5 Stafford divisions and we’ll continue to put those teams and drivers in the spotlight.”

The 2022 season will begin with the previously announced 50th Spring Sizzler® featuring two days of racing highlighted by a $15,000 to win 100 lap Open Modified event. A new addition to Spring Sizzler® weekend will be the PASS Super Late Models who are set for their first appearance at Stafford since 2012. Click here for more information on the 2022 NAPA Spring Sizzler.

The Open Modifieds will return to the half-mile once per month in 2022. The Call Before You Dig Open Modified 81 will kick-off the events Friday, May 20th and will be followed by the Bud Light Open 80 on June 10th, GAF Roofing Open 80 on July 1st, and the Lincoln Tech Open 80 on Friday, August 19th. New for 2022, the Tri-Track Modified Series will make a trip to Stafford Speedway Saturday, September 24th as the headliner for the 49th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final.

“We’re excited to have the Tri-Track Modified series back at Stafford after the incredible CBYD Modified Classic in 2020,” continued Arute. “The dates didn’t line-up to have them on the calendar in 2021, but they will be back in a big way in 2022 headlining the 49th NAPA Fall Final.”

Each of Stafford’s 5 weekly divisions will run an extra distance event with the SK Modifieds® going beyond their 40 lap distance twice. First with the 50 lap Senator’s Cup July 15th and again for the 9th Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K. The Limited Late Models will run 5 extra laps on June 17th while the Street Stocks will compete in their annual Midstate Site Development Firecracker 30 on June 24th. Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Modifiedz Night will be held July 8th and will feature a 40 lap event for the SK Light Modified division. Finally, the Late Models will run their extra distance event September 2nd in the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50.

“We are building off the success of the last few seasons,” continued Arute. “The drivers, teams, and fans have all rallied behind Stafford in so many ways, 2022 will be a season that will make everyone proud to call Stafford Speedway their home track. We have multiple facility improvements currently underway that fans and drivers will love. We may even have a few more surprises up our sleeve. See everyone at the Spring Sizzler.”

Season tickets for the 2022 Stafford Speedway season are now available online and by calling the track office. All pricing remains the same from 2021.

With a forecast calling for rain for much of the day on Saturday, management at Riverhead Raceway announced last Friday morning that Saturday’s Islip 300 racing card had been postponed to Sunday. Also rescheduled to a later date was the awards program for the nine champions of the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series.

John Fortin, Jr. took the win and was followed by Kyle Bonsignore , Patrick Emerling, Ryan Preece and Ed Brunnhoelzl, III. Sixth thru tenth were Jimmy Blewett, Anthony Nocella, David Sapienza, Justin Brown and Kyle Soper.

In some really good news, The Southern Modified Auto Racing Tour (S.M.A.R.T) and FloSports are proud to announce a groundbreaking partnership to bring live circle track racing to the FloRacing platform. New for the 2022 season, all SMART Tour events will be streamed live on FloRacing, making SMART the first asphalt series on the nationally recognized platform.

“FloRacing is known for being an exceptional partner and delivering outstanding production quality and presentation of live streamed sports. We are thrilled with the commitment they have made to the SMART Tour and its future,” Tour Director Chris Williams said.

FloRacing has become the leader in live streaming in grassroots racing with over 800 race events streamed in 2020 and over 1,400 in 2021. Annual subscriptions to FloRacing include unlimited access to all live streaming content. Also included in a subscription are the exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes access, and ride-alongs with drivers, motorsports news, archived races, and highlights that racing fans have come to expect from the FloRacing platform. FloRacing subscribers also receive complete access to the entire network of FloSports verticals ranging from cycling, wrestling, football, baseball, softball, grappling, hockey and more. Watch the races across all screens by downloading the FloSports app on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, and Chromecast.

FloRacing subscribers will be treated to a growing 2022 asphalt racing schedule that will include all SMART Tour events, season long schedules at Stafford Motor Speedway, Oswego Speedway, and Thunder Road Speedbowl amongst others. Meanwhile, FloRacing also showcases the best of grassroots dirt track racing including the Chili Bowl, USAC, Tony Stewart’s All Star Circuit of Champions, Eldora Speedway, Port Royal Speedway and weekly action from the Fonda Speedway.

It’s the best deal in auto racing!

On a sad note Ron Narducci passed away last Friday, Nov 12. During his racing career, Ron competed at an estimated 60 race tracks, starting in New York state while he served in the Air Force. While stationed in New York, he took down 17 feature wins and won 2 track championships, both at Waterloo, NY.

In 1957, Ron returned to Connecticut, and, along with his father, bought a 1937 Ford Flathead Coupe. Ron won the Sportsman Championship at Waterford Speedbowl in 1958. The same year, he ran a few races at the Stafford Speedway.

From 1959 to ’66, Narducci competed at NASCAR tracks, winning 2 Modified Championships and 2 Stafford Sportsman Championships. 1960 saw him finish 2nd in sportsman points at Norwood, and he finished 3rd in Modified points at Menands, NY. During this time, he won many features, including 6 in 1963 with Sharkey Gaudiosi’s #44.

With the paving of Stafford in 1967, Ron started running the NY State circuit. He won 5 features at Fonda, his home track, that year, including a 100 lap Championship race. 1967 also saw Narducci join the All-Star League, where he was a 6 time winner on the Winning Track Team, representing Fonda, Albany-Saratoga, and Catamount Stadium.

The waning years of his career were spent in the Fingerlakes of NY, where he finished 4th in Modified points at the Weedsport in 1975. From that point until his retirement in 1982, Ron ran on the DIRT circuit. Although he hung up his helmet in 1982, Ron served as a Pit Steward for DIRT for another 4 years, before stepping back to enjoy his retirement in 1986.

Ron’s daughter-in-law Venetta who is married to Ron’s son Greg lost her battle with cancer on Saturday night.

Jack Arute Sr was a devout fan of the Modifieds with total dedication to the Stafford Motor Speedway. A few years ago the Connecticut DMV which oversaw all racing in Connecticut went on strike. Without a DMV inspector on site Arute was told to shut down the track and send everybody home or face arrest. Arute resisted and stood tall, not allowing anyone to tell him what to do. A couple of quick calls were made to the Governor’s office and the races went off as planned.

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. The book documents Modified Racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway from 1967 to 1986. 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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