Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Big news broke last Tuesday when the Stafford Speedway and FloRacing announced that have agreed to extend their live streaming partnership through the 2028 season.
FloRacing is the best thing that ever happened to short track racing both on asphalt and dirt. With Flo, everybody wins. The tracks receive revenue, the competitors receive revenue, advertisers and sponsors get world wide exposure and the fans get to see the best there is for a nominal fee.
Stafford and FloRacing announced a groundbreaking partnership in 2021 with Stafford becoming the first pavement track on the streaming platform. Since the partnership began in 2021, weekly racing action from the Connecticut half-mile has been consumed by thousands of race fans throughout the country. “FloSports is proud to be the broadcast home for Stafford Motor Speedway. In our earliest days in short track pavement racing, The Arute family believed in our mission to grow grassroots racing in America. We’re grateful for their partnership, leadership, and vision and look forward to continued growth in the years to come.” Stated Mike Levy, Vice President, Global Rights Acquisition & Partnerships, FloSports.
While Thompson and New London continue to have issues with car counts it’s just the opposite at Stafford. On Friday night there were 114 cars in the Stafford pit area including 24 SK Modifieds, 35 SK Lights, 14 Limited Late Models, 23 Street Stocks and 18 Late Models. With threatening weather in the area a good crowd was on hand.
Michael Christopher, Jr. ended a long dry spell at Stafford as he scored his first victory of the year as he won the 50-lap Senator’s Cup feature event. Kevin Gambacorta was a first time 2023 winner in the Late Model feature, Chris Matthews was a first time 2023 winner in the SK Light feature, Kevin Cormier notched his third win of the 2023 season in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar scored his second win of the season in the Street Stock feature.
Christopher went pole to pole but it was no cake walk. Jimmy Blewett started tenth and after charging to the front, planted himself in Christopher’s draft. Blewett stalked Christopher for the lead until lap-39 when he was able to get to the inside of Christopher and take over the lead in turns 3+4. Anthony Bello, who had started in the scratch position, was now third behind the two leaders with Todd Owen fourth, Arute fifth, Dylan Kopec sixth, and Keith Rocco seventh. Christopher was able to get back by Blewett in turn 4 on lap-45 to retake the lead with Bello, Owen, and Arute still making up the top-5 with 5 laps to go. Blewett made one last charge on the final lap but couldn’t get close enough to Christopher to make a move as Christopher took down his first win of the 2023 season. Bello finished third with Owen and Arute rounding out the top-5.
Other Friday night winners at Stafford included Kevin Gambacorta who was a first time 2023 winner in the Late Model feature, Chris Matthews was a first time 2023 winner in the SK Light feature, Kevin Cormier notched his third win of the 2023 season in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar scored his second win of the season in the Street Stock feature.
The Thompson Speedway returned to oval track racing this past Wednesday, June 21. Promoted by the ACT Tour & PASS, the Thompson Outlaw Open Modified Series went 50 laps & $5,000 to win! Also on the racing card was The New England Supermodifieds, Thompson Late Models, SK Lite Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks.
The speedway continues to be dying a slow death despite the efforts of ACT and Pass. Sub-par fields of cars, 15 Modifieds, 17 SK Lites, 15 Limited Sportsman, 10 Supers and 8 Mini Stocks made up the divisions that raced. As the paint continues to flake off the grandstands the once proud facility has taken on a shabby look. Since Don Hoenig retired the racing facility has been changed over to favor the sports car set which has not set well with the oval track community. Many of the oval track fans stayed away in droves.
Ronnie Williams used a late caution to win the Icebreaker 125 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series at Thompson Speedway back in April. Wednesday night, Williams didn’t need a late caution – he did it in dominating fashion. Williams took the lead early and rolled to the win after holding off Chris Pasteryak and on a flurry of late restarts. The victory came in the first of the summer Dash For Cash 50-lap, $5,000 to win races for the Outlaw Open Modifieds at the Connecticut oval in 2023.
Williams had a tough challenge on the final restart with Pasteryak closing in on the back bumper. Pasteryak was close on the final lap when the field took the white flag, but got loose off turn two and had to settle for second. Joey Mucciacciaro posted a strong third-place finish with Kurt Vigeant and Swanson finishing the top-five.
Other winners included Former Thompson champion Nick Johnson in the 25-lap Late Model race, Ben Seitz in the Supers, Tyler Chapman collected the extra-distance prize in the SK Light Modifieds at the end of their 30-lap feature, Corey Fanning made it two-for-two on the 2023 season in the Limited Sportsman and Kyle Wing in the Mini Stocks. Wing won his qualifying heat in dominant fashion, then followed it up by leading all 15 laps to win the Mini Stock feature race.
The track will return to racing action on Wednesday, July 26, with the Twisted Tea Open Modified Dash For Cash round two, set for 50 laps and $5,000 to win. Rumors persist that ACT and Pass will be all done at Thompson at season’s end.
On a sad note, former Chief Starter and presently pit steward Richard Brooks suffered a heart attack on his way home following the Thompson event. Brooksie had a major blockage which was repaired by the installation of a stent. He is currently recovering at the L&M Hospitol in New London, Ct.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolled into the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Saturday night, June 24 for the Mike Ewanitsko 200. Among the missing was Jon McKennedy who had the mis-fortune of having his race team close up shop. The Modified tour followed the trend of other racing venues with a short field of cars on hand. The official count was 23 but if you take out the regulars that leaves 15. If this trend continues Melissa Fifield will be a top ten finisher by Labor Day!
Ron Silk scored a well deserved win in the 200 lap contest and was greeted in victory lane by Mike Ewanitsko. Silk started second and trailed pole sitter Austin Beers before taking the lead on lap 63. Beers faded as his car’s handling fell off. Justin Bonsignore moved into second and Doug Coby moved into third but they had nothing for the leader as they followed him to the finish. An outstanding performance was turned in by local favorite Jack Handley who finished fourth. Rounding out the top five was Roger Turbush, Sixth thru tenth included Tyler Rypkema, John Beatty Jr., Timmy Solomito and Austin Beers.
The 200 lap contest went almost incident free with only two cautions slowing the event. The first yellow was displayed on lap 51 for a spin on the front stretch by Dave Sapienza and the second yellow came on lap 104 when JR Bertuccio stopped in the infield and dropped his safety net.
Great job of calling the event by Steve Halpin and Joe Coss.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action on July 8 for the Jersey Shore 150 at Wall Stadium. The green flag will fly at 8 p.m. ET with FloRacing providing the coverage.
Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl foggy conditions prevailed but it didn’t stop Timmy Jordan who won the 60 lap SK Modified feature. It was his 13th career win and 40th overall at the shoreline oval. Ryan Morgan finished second with Todd Owen, third. Jason Palmer was the Late Model winner. He now has 95 career wins at the bowl.
The Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina had their own drama. Jason Myers dominated the first Modified race, but then was disqualified because he failed the tire inspection in the first 25-lap race in that division. With Myers getting disqualified it was Tim Brown, who finished second, who was given the victory and that was his 98th career win. Myers sat on the pole with the best time in qualifying 13.1 and never trailed, but the Victory Lane celebration was for naught. Daniel Beeson was second and Lee Jeffreys was third. Myers was able to change tires for the second race but had to start in the back of the field. Junior Snow won the second Modified race.
Lots of racing action this week. Open Wheel Wednesday featuring the Tri Track Series gets the green on Wednesday, June 28 at the Seekonk Speedway. On Saturday night, Saturday July 1st TWIN 100’s! Open Modifieds and GSPSS Pro Stocks at the Star Speedway presented by the Racing Guys honoring Bentley Warren, Art Barry, Butch Perry and Bob Webber Sr! Going to be a cant miss event! Complete event details coming soon.
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).