RPW Column: The Champ Trail: SRX Announces Their ’23 Sked, Thompson Does Too & More…
Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Big news arrived on December 21, 2022.
Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) have announced their 2023 season schedule. The races will air on six consecutive Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN App, bringing back the iconic “ESPN Thursday Night Thunder” branding.
The series will kick off its 2023 schedule at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Connecticut on July 13th. After that, the series will travel north for its first visit to the Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont on July 20th. SRX will then head south to Virginia for a shootout at Motor Mile Speedway on July 27th before visiting Michigan for the first time to race at the esteemed Berlin Raceway in the greater Grand Rapids area on August 3rd. The series will wind up its 2023 season with back-to-back dirt races at Eldora Speedway (OH) on August 10th, followed by the championship race at Lucas Oil Speedway in Missouri on August 17th.
“The six tracks we selected came from a list of 42 fantastic venues, all who had real interest in hosting an SRX race this summer,” said Don Hawk, SRX Chief Executive Officer. “When selecting the schedule, we
prioritized historic tracks that have had success hosting big-time events. “It was important to us to kick-off this summer at Stafford Motor Speedway, in Bristol’s (CT) backyard.
Stafford and the Arute Family have done a first-class job, and the proximity to ESPN made the home game concept very exciting. “The race fans have earned another SRX event at Stafford,” explained Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute. “The atmosphere at the first two SRX events at Stafford was incredible. Moving to a Thursday night under the lights will present an opportunity to see even more superstars battle it out on the half-mile. This will be another can’t miss event at Stafford Speedway, thank you to the entire SRX team for bringing the show to Stafford again.”
The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) debuted at Stafford in 2021. A sold out crowd witnessed hometown hero Doug Coby take home the victory. The 2022 event also had a fairytale ending with Ryan Newman returning to victory lane with both his daughters by his side. Drivers for the 2023 SRX racing event are expected to be announced in early 2023.
Racing announcer Matt Buckler who recently underwent surgery to remove a foot continues to heal and recover has issued the following statement. “Hello to all my friends, I’m ready to move to Mount Sinai rehab in Connecticut which is reported to be a great facility. There are complications with my right foot which are making things difficult, but my doctor says that with a team effort and hard work I should be able to walk in a few weeks. I am still planning to be at the Speed Bowl opener on May 7th. I have to thank everybody for their support it’s been unbelievable those comments are what he’s keeping me going. I talked to Ben Dodge Wednesday, he is recovering and our goal is to reunite the Ben-Matt team to announce some races this year, maybe it’s Stafford Speedway. I think the team is ready to return. I thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes, they’re working see you on May 7th”.
Officials from the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS) also announced their schedule for the Thompson Speedway oval for 2023. The nine-event schedule is highlighted by the annual Icebreaker and World Series weekends along with four Wednesday night programs throughout the summer. 2023 will mark the fourth year ACT and PASS have sanctioned the iconic 5/8-mile oval in Northeast Connecticut.
The 84th year at Thompson Speedway will start and end with a pair of New England’s premier race weekends. Beginning with the 49th Icebreaker, an optional Friday practice day on March 31st gives a sneak-peak prior to the annual lid-lifter on Saturday, April 1st and Sunday, April 2nd. Saturday will be headlined by the PASS Super Late Models while Sunday will once again feature the $10,000-to-win Icebreaker 125 for the Thompson Outlaw Open Modifieds. Along with the Thompson Late Models, Limited Sportsman, SK Lites and Mini Stocks, a full division line-up will be announced for the Icebreaker at a later date.
The 2023 season will close with the traditional three-day Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing starting Friday, October 6th and ending Sunday, October 8th. In its 61st iteration, the annual stock car extravaganza will once again feature three days of Tour-type Modified racing starting with the Modified Racing Series on Friday followed by the $10,000-to-win Thompson Outlaw Open Modified Sunoco 100 on Saturday and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Sunday. The World Series will also feature championship action for the weekly Thompson divisions as well as a host of touring series that will be announced in the months ahead.
The Wednesday night showdowns will look a little different in 2023 with the introduction of the all-new Dash for Cash Series for the Thompson Outlaw Open Modifieds. In an effort to cut down on the need for a larger pit crew during these midweek events, the Dash for Cash events will be cut down to 50 lap sprints, leaving the need for change tires and scheduled pit stops behind. The three Dash for Cash events will continue to feature the $5,000 to win, $600 to start purse that has been in effect for the Wednesday Open Modified shows since 2021. “After talking with teams, we feel the format change to 50 laps without change tires will bring more teams to our midweek shows,” said PASS President Tom Mayberry. “Now it’ll be up to the driver to chase down the cash, not relying on a fast right-rear tire changer.” The Dash for Cash for the Outlaw Open Modifieds debuts on Wednesday, June 21st alongside the Thompson Late Models, SK Lite Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks. The New England Supermodified Series (NESS) will also have their midweek debut on the Thompson high banks after a stellar run at October’s World Series.
On Wednesday, July 26th the SK Lite Modifieds take center stage alongside the second Dash for Cash. The SK Lites will contend for Double Features alongside the Outlaw Open Modifieds, Thompson Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks. Wednesday, August 16th brings the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour back to their midweek tradition at the Big-T. The NWMT Thompson 150 will be supported by the Thompson Late Models, SK Lite Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks. The final Wednesday night showdown on September 13th will feature the final Dash for Cash for the Outlaw Open Modifieds in 2023 alongside an Open Street Stock special and the Thompson local divisions.
Sunoco Modifieds are noticeably absent from the Wednesday shows but will remain part of Thompson Speedway in a big way in 2023. With the ongoing tire shortages still affecting the Sunoco Modifieds in particular and keeping with the upcoming point battles at Stafford Speedway and New London-Waterford Speedbowl in mind, officials have chosen to keep the Sunoco Modifieds to Icebreaker and World Series weekends.
It is hoped that Thompson will sign up with FloRacing for 2022.
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 Coastal 181 (877-907-8181).