RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Getting Ready For Florida, Stafford’s Sizzler, Second Season Of SRX & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – As of this coming Friday, February 4, one week remains before the start of the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified tour season at the New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna, Fl on Saturday, February 12.

From New Smyrna the WMT will wind its way north for a total of 16 events and will end the season at the Martinsville Speedway on Thursday, October 27.

The World Series for the tour type modifieds at New Smyrna will begin on Monday, Feb 14 and wind up on Fri, Feb 18 with the Richie Evans Memorial 100. Included in the series is the John Blewett III Memorial 76 lapper on Wed, Feb 16. The Super Late Model Orange Blossom 100 closes out the World Series on Saturday night, Feb18, FloRacing will live stream all events.

The Modified entry list is over 40. Rumor has it that Ryan Preece is expected to occupy the seat in Ole Blu to run for the team in the Whelen Modified Tour season opening event on Feb. 12 at New Smryna (Fla.) Speedway.

RaceDayCt reported that Preece is also expected to run for Boehler Racing Enterprises at the 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler April 23-24 at Stafford Speedway. That event is now an Open Modified race. Boehler Racing Enterprises has filed an entry for the Spring Sizzler with a driver to be announced. Former Boehler driver Matt Swanson has found a home with Bolles racing which has SK mods, open and tour cars ready to go.

The all-different Busch Clash will be held this coming Sunday night, Feb 6 in Los Angeles on a flat quarter mile track inside the coliseum. Looks to being a slam-bang affair. The Clash airs at 6:00pm on FOX. Qualifying heats will air on FOX at 3:00pm.

For those of you who are unable to take in Speedweeks in Florida Bob Finan advises that the 30th annual Daytona 500 party will take place at the All Star in Riverhead on Long Island, on Sunday Feb 20th.

It started off as a few guys getting together for lunch and watch the Daytona 500 at a small pub in Rocky Point. On Sunday February 20th, 2022 the Long Island Daytona 500 Party will celebrate 30-years of getting the racing community together to enjoy the Great American Race. The 2022 L.I. Daytona 500 Party returns to The All Star of Riverhead featuring free admission.

The All Star is located at 96 Main Road in Riverhead, just west of the route 105 intersection on the north side of the road. Doors will open at 12 noon, the FOX broadcast of the Daytona 500 starts at 2:30 pm.

The new scoreboard is in place, the track is almost bare and the entries are pouring in for the annual Spring Sizzler at Stafford.

After a 2021 season that paid out over $100,000 contingency bonuses to drivers, Stafford Speedway’s Contingency Program will welcome American Sign, Inc. of New Haven, CT as a new contingency sponsor for the 2022 season. American Sign will contribute weekly bonuses of $75 to each Street Stock feature winner as well as $75 to each third place SK Light finisher. American Sign will contribute a total of $3,300 during the 2022 season with $1,650 each going to SK Light and Street Stock drivers.

President and CEO of American Sign, Tony Lafo, is a former Stafford weekly competitor who raced in both the Late Model and Street Stock divisions from 2003-2007 and 2009-2013. Lafo returned to Stafford last season as the pace car driver and that connection pushed Lafo to become a contingency sponsor for the 2022 season.

New for the 2022 season, Stafford Speedway will welcome Riley Generators of East Windsor, CT as the newest member of its contingency program. Riley Generators will provide the Limited Late Model feature winner with a $125 bonus during the 2022 season.

Rumor had it that Stafford Speedway and the SRX indicated that track management is looking at a likely Saturday July 2 date for a series return to the Connecticut half-mile. The series enjoyed a packed house and great competition last year.

Rumor became reality last weekend as SRX Racing has just announced a 6 race short track schedule that includes a return visit to Stafford Motor Speedway on July 2! Awesome job by the fans and speedway to show that a second trip was warranted. The series opens at the Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida on June 18 then moves to the South Boston Speedway in Virginia on June 25. All events will be televised by CBS Sports.

During the late stages of an extra distance championship event in the early seventies, Jerry Cook’s car was leaking oil and was “black flagged” by starter Frank Sgambato Sr. Cook ignored the black flag and was penalized with a low finish. Cook contended that he was running in a tight pack and stated that he couldn’t determine if the black flag was for him. After a lengthy appeal through NASCAR, Cook had his position restored. Stafford owner Jack Arute was extremely upset over this turn of events and ordered a large digital sign to be installed in the first turn which would indicate who was black flagged. Arute christened the sign the “Jerry Cook Light” and vowed this situation would never happen again.

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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