RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Getting Ready For Stafford’s Sizzler, Reviewing The Northeast Classic At NHMS & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The most anticipated weekend of racing is coming up with the running of the 50th anniversary of the Spring Sizzler.

In a fitting move, the Arute family that operates the Stafford Motor Speedway has announced that the founding trio of Dick Berggren, Lew Boyd, and Bruce Cohen will serve as the grand marshals for the 50th running of the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” on this coming Sunday April 24th.

“When we began planning the 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler® we knew we had to have Dick, Lew, and Bruce on hand to serve as Grand Marshals,” explained Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute. “What the three of them put together over 50 years ago set Stafford and Modified racing on a path to develop one of the greatest traditions in short track racing, the Spring Sizzler®. We’re honored to have them as Grand Marshals for the 50th.”

Not only did the drivers support the race, but so did the fans. A huge crowd was on hand on an overcast day to witness Fred DeSarro behind the wheel of Lenny Boehler’s legendary Ole Blue number 3 win the first Spring Sizzler®. Ed Flemke dominated the race but lost a water pump while in the lead with under 10 to go.

With a total of over $130,000 up for grabs and close to 50 open tour type modifieds entered its guaranteed to be one of the premier events of the year. Action begins on Saturday.

Saturday’s schedule consists of Street Stock heats, PASS Late Model heats, Open tour type Modified heats and Limited Late Model heats. Features for Street Stocks, Ltd Late Models, Vintage Modifieds Pass Late Models and NAPA Dual twin 40’s will follow. Sunday’s program will consist of two Last Chanse (Consolations) for Open Modifieds, SK Lite 20 lap feature, Late Model 30 lap feature, SK Modified 40 lap feature and the 100 lap Sizzler.

In Easter Sunday action, Derek Gluchacki’s victory at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway is the biggest of his young career, his second ACT Late Model Tour win following Thompson Speedway’s Sunoco World Series in 2021. Tom Carey III earned his second-consecutive silver Northeast Classic trophy while Patrick Laperle made his return to the United States a statement, earning his best NHMS finish in third. DJ Shaw in the A.H. Fence #04VT took fourth and Dillon Moltz capped a strong run with fifth. 2013 Serie-ACT Champion Dany Trepanier took sixth, defending ACT Tour champion Ben Rowe charged from 25th to finish seventh, Jamie Swallow Jr., Jean-Phillippe Bergeron and Shawn Swallow rounded out the top-10.

Jon McKennedy won the 40 lap Modified Series event over Ronnie Williams, Colby Fournier and Woody Pitkat

The second annual Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was pushed back 24 hours but the show was well worth the wait. Going into the Pro All Stars Series event, a MacDonald was most certainly the favorite. Eddie MacDonald #17MA is just one win behind Cup Series star Kyle Busch for the most wins at NHMS all time. In the end a different MacDonald would be the one to claim the checkers after the end of the 50-lap main event. Austin MacDonald #13 put on a dominating performance leading the vast majority of the event but it was not without a challenge.

It has been announced that racing will return to North Wilkesboro Speedway this year. Called a Racetrack Revival, the effort to bring back racing to the North Wilkesboro Speedway, will begin with racing in August on the pavement and then on dirt in October before the track is repaved in 2023, Speedway Motorsports announced Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Classes in August will include Hornets, Super Late Models, street stocks, Pro Late Models, Limited Late Models, modifieds and Late Model stocks. Classes in October will include Hornets, Super Late Models, street stocks, 602 crate Late Models, modifieds, 604 crate Late Models, 410 sprint cars, big block modifieds and Super Late Models. There are no NASCAR events on the schedule

Riverhead Raceway on eastern Long Island opens for the season this Saturday night. The NASCAR Modifieds are the featured racing division. The entire season will be live streamed by FloRacing.

Big news regarding drag racing and stock cars in Western NY. Retired businessman and drag racer Mike Swinarski and veteran stock car driver Scott Nurmi are expected to purchase and co-own New York International Raceway Park in Lancaster, they told The Buffalo News.

The track, formerly known as Lancaster Speedway, will change names to Lancaster Motorplex upon completion of the sale, which was expected to happen last Friday, April15, Swinarski and Nurmi said.

Historically, one of the more popular stock car attractions at Lancaster has been the Race of Champions events. The ROC has not run at Lancaster the last two seasons, but ROC operator Joe Skotnicki met with Swinarski this week and both sides are in the exploratory stages of possibly bringing back ROC involvement to Lancaster.

The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina opens for the season this coming Saturday night on April 23. For the Madhouse fans who can’t attend in person – FloRacing will be streaming the racing action all season long.

On tap for opening night is the Hayes Jewelers 200 for the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series, 40-lap race for the McDowell Heating & Air Sportsman Series, 20-lap race for the Law Offices of John Barrow Street Stock Series, One or two 15-lap races for the Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series.

Qualifying for the Hayes Jewelers 200 will take place on Friday, April 22 from 5:00 – 7:00 PM, with practice for all divisions earlier that day from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM. On Friday, the grandstands will be open to the public for free.

Then on Saturday, adult admission is just $12. For children 6-11, it’s only $2 – and children under 5 are free.

Congratulations to Quinn Wazorko Christopher who has been named one of the Top 25 Women in Business in 2022 by the Hartford (CT) Business Journal. A native of Plainville, Quinn Wazorko Christopher graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2002, going on to Southern Connecticut State University for a master’s in social work. Until she became owner of M&T Enterprises in 2017, Christopher was employed at Wheeler Clinic in Plainville.

Following her husband’s (Ted Christopher) unexpected death in 2017, She had to decide what to do with his business of servicing Allison transmissions. She had no knowledge of the transmission business, but with her brother-in-law Mike Christopher’s support and knowledge, they decided to continue running the business. For the last five years, they have continued M&T Enterprises’ success.

While their account base has increased by 30% since 2017, she would like to see it grow an additional 20% in the next two years and serve 500 clients. They will do this by continuing to be competitive, providing quality repairs and exceeding client expectations. As a businesswoman, she hopes to serve as a role model for those interested in this type of career.

Owned and operated by Larry McKinney, McKinney Construction is located on Main Street in Stafford Springs, CT. Specializing in a variety of projects for municipalities, hospitals, chain stores, supermarkets, and more, McKinney can tackle your construction needs. Larry McKinney purchased the Ray Miller #7 Coupe which raced at Stafford 70-71 and he has it located at his showroom on Main St. in Stafford Springs.

June 21, 1968 Mr. Leo Cleary put the Joe Brady 41 in victory lane. Bill Slater finished second with Bugsy Stevens, Tommy Borget and Ralph “Hop” Harrington rounding out the top five. Cleary’s car was Ford powered.

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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