Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Age is just a number. It’s a saying that many people will hear in their lifetimes and it could be debated as fact or fiction. 63 year old Stafford Speedway Late Model driver Tom Butler landed on the fact side Friday, June 16th as he drove his #4 Square Peg Pizzeria Chevrolet to his first win at Stafford in nearly 7 seasons.
“Age is just a number to me,” said Butler. “I’ve never felt my age, which may be part of my problem, but I’ve never felt that I’m too old to go racing. It was an awesome feeling to be honest. We’ve been close to winning but to finally get there was exciting. It’s more exciting for me to see my crew and the fans but don’t get me wrong, I love winning. If we could win every week that would be something but we all know that isn’t going to happen. It was very cool for me and my sponsors Square Peg Pizzeria, Off the Rails Brewing Company in downtown Stafford, my brother’s company Commercial Development Services Group, and everyone on my crew, Rick DeCarli, Dino Lusa, Todd Falcon, John Troiano, Jon Butler, Jon Benoit, Chris Hatch, Ray Griffin, Al Saunders, Cliff Saunders, Kelly Dallacorte, and Adam Dallacorte.”
Butler made his first start at Stafford in the Street Stock division in 1976 before moving into Late Model competition in the mid to late ‘80s. Butler notched his first career feature win at Stafford on May 28, 1993 and his most recent win 30 years later was the 26th win of his career, which places him in 5th place on the Late Model all-time winners list. Butler is still looking to chase down some more wins before he retires from driving.
“It never gets old getting behind the wheel,” said Butler. “I got started at Stafford in 1976 in the Street Stock division and those cars just had cages we put in them and we could run street tires, there wasn’t a race tire for those cars, so it was a long time ago. I just love being at Stafford. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years at Stafford and I’m not ready to say I’m done yet, but at some point I have to be realistic about things. I’d say that I could do one more season and have a chance to accomplish a few more things that I want before I hang it up.”
Butler’s win was his first top-5 effort of the 2023 season to go along with 2 other top-10 finishes and he climbed a spot in the points from 13th place up to 12th place. Butler currently sits 42 points behind Kevin Gambacorta in the lead and he has his sights set on working his way into the top-5 of the standings before the season comes to a close following NAPA Championship Night on Sept. 29.
“We’d be happy to get into the top-5 in the points and we’d like to get a couple more wins,” said Butler. “I really would like to get podium finishes every week because with how equal the Late Model cars are right now, if you can be on the podium every week, that really shows everyone how good of a driver you are and your team is.”
Butler is also not ready to have his 26th career Late Model win at Stafford be his last. Armed with a new chassis that he is still figuring out, Butler thinks he has everything he needs in place to capture more wins.
“I think we have the right package this season,” said Butler. “This is a different chassis that I only ran 2 or 3 races last season so I’m still trying to figure a few things out on how it responds but I think we’re fast enough to be in the top-5 every week. There’s definitely more speed to be found in the car and I think we could have won the race the week before if the bumper hadn’t fallen off of the car. The very first time I drove this car, I had no doubt that I could still race with those guys no matter age everyone is.”
Butler’s next opportunity to add another victory to his career tally will be The Senator’s Cup this Friday, June 23rd. Stafford’s SK Modifieds®, Late Models, SK Lights, Limited Late Models, and Street Stocks will all be in feature racing action with the SK Modifieds® racing 50 laps instead of their usual 40. Tickets for the Senator’s Cup program are priced at $20.00 for adults, $5.00 for kids 6-14, and free for kids 5 and under. Reserved seating is priced at $25.00 for all ages and pit passes are $40.00 with a valid 2023 Stafford Speedway Competition License and $45.00 without.