RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Great News From Stafford, JDV Productions, Seekonk & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – In some real good news, Stafford Speedway and FloRacing have once again partnered to live stream the entire season from the Connecticut half-mile on the FloRacing platform. A groundbreaking streaming partnership in asphalt racing that debuted in 2021 will continue for its 3rd season in 2023.

FloRacing will continue to support the Stafford Speedway end of season point fund contributing $40,000 to the weekly competitors. Stafford Speedway continues to be a leader in prize money distributing over $1,000,000 to competitors in 2022.

“Live streaming has been a major component of the growth of Stafford Speedway in the last few seasons,” explained Stafford Speedway COO Paul Arute. “All of us at Stafford are big believers in live streaming. We’ve put a lot of effort into continuously improving our streaming product with the goal to put forth a first-class at home product. The visibility for Stafford and the competitors is invaluable.

Stafford’s weekly live stream broadcast is completely produced by Stafford Speedway and its team members. The broadcast has developed significantly since it first went on air in 2020 and included 6 cameras in 2022. The Stafford Speedway production team is busy preparing for 2023. “We have an incredible team that produces the broadcast each week,” continued Arute. “We’ve learned a lot since we first went live in 2020 and with the support of FloRacing have been able to further develop the production. We’re excited to continue to showcase the Stafford Speedway brand on FloRacing and do our best to tell each driver’s story every Friday Night.”

Congratulations to Stafford Speedway female driver Alexandra Fearn who graduated from law school last May, took the bar exam in July and found out in late October she had passed the bar. She is now working full-time as an attorney. she will be part of a stable of three full-time teams in the Late Model division at Stafford in 2023 for Fearn Motorsports.

Fearn is the winningest female driver in Stafford Speedway history with 25 career feature wins at the historic half-mile in the Limited Late Model division. In 2023 she will be looking to become the first female driver to record a win in Stafford’s Late Model division.

Last week, NASCAR observed Founders Day for the sport. Seventy-five years ago, on December 14, 1947, Bill France Sr. opened four days of meetings with drivers, race promoters, mechanics, local officials, business people and media at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona. The goal of the meetings was to examine the future of stock car racing in the United States. What was born of the meeting was the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. About two months later, on Feb. 15, 1948, NASCAR hosted its first event on a beach road course in Daytona.

Get well wishes to popular race announcer and sportswriter Matt Buckler who had the unfortunate experience of having a foot amputated last week. Buckler had long been battling the ravages of sugar diabetes.

His one liners have been a welcome addition to the sometimes boring oratory of race announcers. Hopefully he will return to good health and be back behind the mic in the spring.

The Seekonk Speedway announced a jam-packed 2023 schedule of events as the track gets ready for the 77th season of operation in Massachusetts. The season will begin with the traditional Sunday afternoon opening day on May 7 and conclude with the smashing of pumpkins during a Thrill Show on October 14.

Both Fast Fridays and Saturday Night Showdowns will return to Seekonk Speedway in 2023, and so will the Sunoco Drive For The Cup to decide the track champions. The Fast Friday program will continue to include the Legends Cars, Sport 4’s, Pure Stocks and both the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Bandits and Outlaws. Saturday night showdown competition will again include the Pro Stocks, Late Models, Sportsman and Sport Trucks. Fast Friday will feature a 17-week schedule with opening night on Friday, May 26, the day before the Memorial Day Thrill Show.

Major Saturday night events include the American-Canadian Tour returning to Seekonk for their first in-season event in several years on Saturday, June 3, with the Spring Green 123. The special extra-distance event means the track Late Models will have the night off, but many contenders will elect to compete with ACT in the extra-distance race. The Spring Green moves to Seekonk after four years at White Mountain Motorsports Park. The event has been held all but a few years since 1974. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is back at Seekonk Speedway for the first time since 2019 on Saturday, June 10, set for a 150-lap feature race. Open Wheel Wednesday returns for yet another season, headlined by the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series on Wednesday, June 28, with a $10,000 main event. The 350 SMAC Supermodifieds and the NEMA Lites will also join the card for Seekonk’s only planned mid-week event of the racing season.

The American Racer USA Pro Stock Classic is set for Saturday, July 1 – a 75-lap special. ​

JDV Productions, Josh Vanada, owner, has a few more exciting announcements remaining for fans before the holidays. Last week, JDV officially announced a four-race NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule for the new season, and also announced the renewal of the Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup in a multi-year agreement with Whelen Engineering.

The 2023 JDV season will begin at Monadnock Speedway with Duel at the Dog weekend from Friday, May 5 through Sunday, May 7. Friday will be an optional practice day for Monadnock house divisions, while the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will have a one-day show on Saturday, May 6. On Sunday, the NHSTRA Modifieds and additional Monadnock house divisions will headline the action. Lee USA Speedway will be up next for the second running of the Granite State Derby on Saturday, May 27. The 175-lap main event on Memorial Day weekend moves from Jennerstown Speedway to Lee.

JDV Productions will also bring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour back to Claremont Motorsports Park on Saturday, July 29. The inaugural Clash at Claremont, which took place on a Friday last season, moves to Saturday with select house divisions from the track set to be involved in the show. The JDV NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season will conclude right back at Monadnock on Saturday, September 9 with the debut of the Winchester Fair. This event will include a 200-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race and Monadnock house divisions with a special flavor of Fair events for fans. Full event cards will be released for all four shows in the upcoming weeks.

On a sad note, Edmund “Ed” Lanier, age 86, from Stonington, Ct, passed away peacefully at home on Dec. 15, 2022. Ed leaves behind his loving wife of 65 years, Helen; and his daughters, Julie and Cheryl. Ed is predeceased by his daughter Diane. Ed enjoyed engine building, sailing and spending quality time with his family.

Ed was an automotive machinist by trade. His flow bench work was legendary. Ed built racing engines at his Ed’s Auto Machine Shop in Mystic, Ct and was the provider of power for Brian Ross and Kenny Bouchard. He also did extensive cylinder head work on the Mystic Missile Modified and the Race Hill Farm Winston Cup car.

Per his request, there were no services. To share a note of remembrance and/or condolence with Ed’s family, please visit www.dinoto funeral.com.

Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) and sports network ESPN announced that they will bring back Thursday Night Thunder on ESPN in 2023. (SRX) and ESPN have announced a multi-year media rights agreement that will see the series air exclusively on ESPN. In the Summer of 2023, the races will air on six consecutive Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN App.

Thursday Night Thunder, which originally aired on ESPN in the 1980’s, saw legends of racing including Tony Stewart launch their careers. SRX and co-owner Stewart will bring the superstars of racing back to Thursday Night, pitting NASCAR, IndyCar, and other racing champions against each other in prime time on ESPN.

The 2023 SRX Schedule is as follows (all events at 9 pm Eastern). Starting on Thursday, July 13, the series will run each and every Thursday thru August 17. Race locations will be announced at a later date. It will be interesting to see how the Stafford Motor Speedway handles this. The series ran at Stafford in 2021 and 2022 and was a sell-out on both occasions.

With the cooperation of the Arute family a book has been published with pictures and biographies of the 50 Greatest Drivers at Stafford.

The Stafford Motor Speedway had become the epicenter of NASCAR Modified racing in the northeast by the late 1980’s. From its dirt beginnings to its lightning-fast asphalt, Stafford had become the toughest and most gratifying track to score a victory. The Arute family which has owned and guided the destiny of the facility commissioned their thousands of loyal fans to name their favorite drivers. In alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone:

Tom Baldwin, Gene Bergin, Brett Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Ken Bouchard, Ron Bouchard, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Ted Christopher, Leo Cleary, Tim Connolly, Jerry Cook, Corky Cookman, Pete Corey, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke, Sr., Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Ernie Gahan, Bill Greco, Bo Gunning, Ray Hendrick, George “Moose” Hewitt, Tony Hirschman, George Janoski, Charlie Jarzombek, George Kent, Buddy Krebs, Randy LaJoie, Jan Leaty, Jerry Marquis, Mike McLaughlin, Ray Miller, Steve Park, Bob Polverari, Bob Potter, Brian Ross, John “Reggie” Ruggiero, Greg Sacks, Ollie Silva, “Wild” Bill Slater, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Stefanik, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, George Summers, Jamie “The Jet” Tomaino, Maynard Troyer and Satch Worley.

Books are priced at $17.95 each and be purchased at the track at the Novelty Booth or at the Stafford Motor Speedway on line store. Books are also available at Amazon.com and at Coastal181 (877-907-8181.

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