Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Fifteen years ago in 2008, At the Waterford Speedbowl the Hartford Courant reported that Terry Eames would be legally rid of Jerry Robinson on November 30 and that he would be taking an active part in running the shoreline oval in 2009.
Eames, who had also had his share of financial problems, leased the track to Robinson for the 2007 season and from the beginning of the season the track had been on a downhill slide. Since Eames purchased the track in 2000. He had not been good at paying his bills and has had foreclosure problems of his own and ended up selling off some of the property the track was located on in order to avoid foreclosure.
Eames also told the Courant that he may bring on other individual investors in an operational capacity, but that his own personal involvement in the operations of the facility would be part of any agreements made.
In the mean time competitors who raced in the season ending Fall Finale on October 5 had still not been paid. Both Robinson and his race director Steve Harraka had lied to competitors about holding off on delivering purse payouts. NASCAR did nothing to help competitors their just due!
The 6th Annual John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout took place at the Concord Motorsports Park in North Carolina. The mighty Modifieds took center stage. They were joined by SK Modifieds, Vintage Modifieds, Rolling Thunder cars, Vintage Sportsman and EastWest Supermodifieds
Forty two Modifieds from both the North and the South along with over 30 SK type Modifieds were on hand. Southerner Burt Myers, who had a win stripped away at Martinsville over a technical issue redeemed himself as he became the first southerner to win the 125 lap Tour type Modified portion of the North-South Shootout. Myers overtook Matt Hirschman with four laps to go and never looked back. Hirschman, who stated that his tires were all but worn out, managed to hang on for the runner-up spot. Ronnie Silk in the southern based Hillbilly Racing entry of Roger and Sandra Hill finished third. Ted Christopher and Bobby Santos III rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were George Brunnhoelzl III, Jason Myers, Glen Reen, Chuck Hossfeld and Rusty Smith. It was a sweep for Myers who also earned the DMC Pole Award with his fast lap of 15.238 seconds. Myers also earned an impressive $11,280 in cash and prizes for the victory.
Erick Rudolph laid down an impressive lap to start on the outside of the front row. He capitalized on his starting position to lead the opening laps taking the defending champion Matt Hirschman along for the ride. Rudolph continued to lead Hirschman, Myers, George Brunnhoelzl III, and Ted Christopher through the first caution on lap 19 for a spin by Daren Scherer. On the ensuing restart, Hirschman was able to catapult into the lead while Myers faded back slightly. During a green flag run, Hirschman began to pull away from the field. Ryan Preece made his first appearance inside the top five. The second yellow flag of the event flew for an incident that involved Carl Pasteryak, Pete Brittain, and Rick Kluth. Green flag racing was short-lived when a spin by Gene Pack brought out the third caution of the event. Under the caution, a handful of teams headed to pit road for the mandatory pit stop including Hirschman, Rudolph, Brunnhoelzl, Christopher, Preece, Beers, and a host of others. Myers, Jimmy Blewett, Ronnie Silk, and Les Hinckley made up the top five of the running order after the pit stops. After another quick caution, Myers and Blewett swapped the lead back and forth. The battle for the lead allowed Silk to catch the lead duo. Bobby Santos III had worked his way into the top-five.
The teams struggled near lap 47 when a host of cautions slowed the field. The likes of Eddie Flemke, Jr. and Charlie Pasteryak were involved in separate incidents. On the second attempt at a restart, Blewett got out of shape slightly. As the field checked up a number of cars stacked up on the front stretch including Rowan Pennink, Todd Szegedy, and Chris Whitenight, Jr. Woody Pitkat. Glenn Reen, and Earl Paulus, were also involved. When green flag racing resumed Myers continued to lead Silk and Christopher. Hirschman got around Santos to rejoin the top-five once again. Myers was beginning to stretch out his lead while Christopher and Hirschman were both getting racy at this stage of the event. Brunnhoelzl came back to life as well. As the race approached halfway, Myers enjoyed a five-car length advantage over Silk, who had little breathing room back to Christopher. Hirschman was a distance back in fourth. Eric Beers was using the high groove in an effort to get to Brunnhoelzl and Santos. Myers meticulously motored his way through lapped traffic to maintain his comfortable lead. The remainder of the top-five now ran nose-to-tail. Myers had yet to make his pit stop that was required between laps 30-110. The caution flew on lap #98 when Santos spun in turn four. The caution allowed Myers the opportunity to head to pit road. He was joined by Silk, Szegedy, Rusty Smith and others. With the stop, Hirschman had inherited the top spot. The ensuing restart meant problems for another front runner Christopher, who spun in turn one. After a false start, Hirschman was able to jump out to the lead over Preece and Beers. Preece lost a quick battle for the second spot. Beers began to run down Hirschman. It looked for a while that it might be a repeat of last year’s finish with the Northampton, PA residents running at the front. There was a scary moment at lap 104 when the Hillbilly Racing teammates Silk and Flemke split Southern Whelen Modified Tour champion Brian Loftin to make it three-wide exiting turn four. All three cars came through the corner unscathed. Myers, meanwhile, was picking his way back to the front of the pack. He passed his brother Jason, then Flemke, and Brunnhoelzl to find the top-five. Myers’ march to the front continued by taking the fourth spot from Silk. He immediately erased the distance between himself and Preece. Just as quickly he disposed of Preece. With only four laps remaining, the field was single file with Hirschman at the helm. Beers was losing ground to Hirschman while Myers continued to gain it. The caution flew on lap 118 when contact dislodged one of the foam blocks placed on the track for safety. Ryan Preece watched his great run come to an end when he headed to pit road for fuel. A spin by Flemke forced another caution in the event.
With two laps remaining, Hirschman lined up ahead of Beers, Myers, Silk, and Brunnhoelz. Beers faltered on the restart giving way to Myers and others. With the crowd on their feet, Myers got a great run to move ahead of Hirschman to take the lead. The enthusiasm could not quell even when the 13th and final caution flew when the #9 of Beers stalled on the front stretch. Myers pulled away on the final restart to streak under the checkers as the 2008 North-South Shootout champion
The SK type 50 lapper was a slam-bang affair that took over two hours to run. Once the dust finally settled thousands of dollars in damages claimed a good portion of the event. Ted Christopher was the winner with Jimmy Blewett finishing second. Blewett made hard contact during a restart on lap 48. Blewett said that Christopher brake checked him and Christopher claimed that Blewett intentionally rammed him because he couldn’t go around to pass. Needless to say, both were mad at each other but at least they didn’t wreck. Steven Reed finished third with Tom Farrell III and Doug Coby rounding out the top five. It took several attempts to get the 50-lapper underway. A multi-car accident in turn three that involved Mike Carpenter, Henry Stampfl, Shaun Carrig, Ryan Preece and others required the first of two complete restarts. On the second attempt at a start, contact between Kenny Horton and Steven Reed sent Horton spinning and the caution flag flying once again. Jeffrey Earnhardt, making his SK-Type Modified debut, was also involved. With green flag racing finally underway, pole sitter Ronnie Silk showed the way with Reed in tow. Cravenho pressured Christopher for third while Jimmy Blewett and Ron Yuhas, Jr. jockeyed for position. A pass on lap five put Christopher at the head of the field.
Keith Rocco, who had started scratch on the field after missing qualifying to attend the early portion of the NASCAR All-American Series banquet, found himself comfortably inside the top ten and making fast tracks to the top-five. His progress was slowed when Richard Schwartz and Michael Carpenter where involved in an incident on lap seven to bring out the caution again. On lap 9, Rocco was able to make his way passed Yuhas and set sail for Cravenho for third. Up front Christopher continued to chase Silk. Sparks began to fly between Rocco and Cravenho as they battled for position. The two made contact. Yuhas went low to move by both competitors; however, contact with Cravenho sent Yuhas hard into the outside wall. Cravenho was sent to the tail end of the field for his involvement. Doug Coby was on the move after a lap 16 restart taking the fourth spot from Eric Beers, aboard the TS Haulers #5. Jimmy Blewett was also making his way to the front. Blewett passed Tommy Farrell to take over the fifth spot. While battling for the second position with Silk, Rocco watched his bid for victory end in the turn two wall. Silk was penalized for his involvement. The running order at halfway found Christopher leading Coby, Beers, Blewett, and Farrell.
Things settled down for a portion of the event with Coby taking chase of Christopher through lapped traffic. With only four laps remaining Farrell spun exiting turn four. Christopher watched his sizeable lead disappear with the yellow. Beers encountered mechanical problems falling off the pace on the final restart. Christopher was able to pull away from Coby. Blewett made his move after the restart to grab second from Coby. A scary looking incident that involved Gary Young, Jr. and Marc Nappi slowed the event with only two laps remaining. Christopher was up to the challenge on the final restart to take the victory in the 50 lap main event. Blewett settled for second. Steven Reed also earned a podium finish. Farrell recovered from an early incident to finish fourth. Coby fell back to fifth at the checkers. Horton also rebounded nicely to finish sixth. Reed received the RH2Way bonus as the highest finishing driver to compete in only the SK-Type Modified division. With lap money and contingency sponsorships, Christopher earned $4,890.
Dave McKnight of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, scored the victory in the 2nd Annual East-West Supermodified Shootout. His efforts earned him a cool $4,590 in cash and prizes.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Jimmie Johnson moved inches away from his record-tying third consecutive Cup championship with a dominating victory at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., where he led a race-high 217 of the 313 laps to deflate Carl Edwards’ title hopes. Johnson needed only to finish 36th or better in the season finale at Homestead to join Cale Yarborough (1976-78) as the only drivers in NASCAR history to win three straight Cup titles. The win was his third straight at Phoenix, and had fourth-place finisher Edwards on the edge of conceding. Johnson started from the pole but gave way on the first lap to Jamie McMurray, who finished third. He didn’t take the lead until lap 81, but was not challenged from there. Kurt Busch made a brief run in the closing laps but settled for second.
Some fans were denied watching the finish when, as an 18-minute red flag came to an end, ABC bailed out on the final laps and dumped the Sprint Cup telecast to ESPN2 so ABC could get to the last half-hour of an episode of “America’s Funniest Videos?”
Carl Edwards won the Nationwide Series Hefty Odor Block 200 at Phoenix International Raceway for his sixth win of the season. Denny Hamlin was second and Kevin Harvick third. Points leader Clint Bowyer bounced back from a mid-race accident to finish fourth. There were 9 cautions for 41 laps and 6 lead changes between 6 leaders.
Ten years ago in 2013, Asphalt Modified drivers from the North and South converged on the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina last weekend for the 11th annual John Blewett III Memorial North/South Shootout. Twenty six Modifieds were on hand.
Matt Hirschman made it five out of 11 as he dominated the event from his pole starting position. Hirschman normally competes in the New York State based Race of Champions Tour. NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour regulars George Brunnhoelzl III was second with Andy Seuss, third. Conspicuous by there absence were competitors of the Whelen Modified Tour and Valenti Modified Racing Series teams.
Southern competitor Brian Loftin and Valenti Modified Racing regular Tommy Barrett rounded out the top five. Ron Silk and Cole Powell were the only representatives of the northern Modified Tour. Silk finished 10th and Powell, 14th.
Woody Pitkat had something to shoot for in 2014. His soon to be car owner Buzz Chew, a Long Island Chevy dealer made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Said Pitkat,”Wow! I really do have the best car owner in the world. I was told if I win 4 races on the modified tour next year he will hand me over the keys to a brand new 2014 Chevy corvette ZO6!!! — with Billy the kid Power”.
In other Whelen Modified Tour Series news Todd Szegedy was given the boot from the Mike Smeriglio No.2. Rumor had it that Max Zachem was a prime candidate for the ride.
The big event this past weekend in New England was the 16th annual NEAR Hall of Fame Induction and Banquet. Drivers Stan Meserve, Brian Ross, Drew Fornoro, Ralph Nason, the late Bob Stefanik, Bill Eldridge and Bob Sharp along with car owner Ron Berndt were inducted on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the Lodge at Manelley’s located at 65 Rye Street in South Windsor, CT.
Hundreds of victories and dozens of championships comprised this year’s New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame class. It brings the membership to well over 115. Inductions are a result of a nomination/selection process that includes voting by a special selection committee and the living members of the Hall.
Peter Vander Veer, a standout auto racing writer for over 3-decades, received the 2013 Jack Ratta/Charlie Mitchell Award. The award memorializes two outstanding motor sports journalists – Ratta who wrote for the Manchester Union Leader and Mitchell, a sportswriter/editor for many years at the Norwalk (CT) Hour.
In some sad news former Waterford Speedbowl Champion Walt Dombrowski passed away along with Supermodified driver Jim Winks.
Kyle Busch picked up his 12th NASCAR Nationwide Series win of the season at the Phoenix International Raceway. Kevin Harvick was the Sprint Cup winner. Former Daytona 500 winner and Roush Fenway Racing driver Trevor Bayne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Five years ago in 2018, The Stafford Motor Speedway honored its champions and numerous competitors on Friday night. Stafford, which was paved in 1967, has been under the control of the Arute family since mid-1970 when then race director Bill Slater convinced construction company and Modified co-owner Jack Arute to lease the speedway before it fell victim to financial problems. Since buying the speedway property in 1971 the Arute family has improved the facility 1000% and made it one of the premier speed plants on the east coast. Through it all since day one has been Mark and Jackie Arute for 49 years for literally the thrill of victory and the agony of the defeat. There have been good times and bad but Stafford has always prevailed.
The 2018 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season at Stafford Motor Speedway awarded competitors an impressive $68,000 in bonus money through the track’s Contingency Program partners. The contingency bonuses were in addition to the weekly purse winnings which increased an average of 10% across the five divisions. Stafford’s premier SK Modified® division led the way with over $36,000 in weekly contingency, Gamblers Challenge, and TC 13 Shootout payouts. Providing weekly contingency bonuses throughout the season were Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair, Maybury Material Handling, Starrett Tools, Casagrande Builders, New England Racing Fuel, Sunoco Brand, and Kevin Harvick Inc. Management. Through his company, KHI Management, Harvick presented two weekly $125 bonuses to the leader on lap-13 and the 13th place finisher in remembrance of Christopher’s number 13. 19 different SK Modified® drivers were awarded KHI bonuses and overall 20 different drivers won SK Modified® bonuses.
When the final checkered flag of the 2018 season dropped at the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final, Ronnie Williams, Tom Fearn, Marcello Rufrano, Jeremy Lavoie, and George Bessette, Jr. cemented their names in the Stafford Speedway history books as 2018 track champions. In the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Division I, SK Modifieds®, the fight for the championship was a season long duel between Williams and Keith Rocco. Rocco began the season with a 4-race winning streak that established himself as the championship favorite. Williams and the #50 Les’s Auto Center team were finishing races right behind Rocco on the podium, allowing him to keep the deficit to Rocco in the standings to a reasonable margin. A big win on June 29 in the NAPA SK 5K, with a payday of $10,625, was definitely the boost the #50 team needed as they pursued the race for the championship. Williams took the point lead for the first time following a win on July 6 and he led the standings for the remainder of the season and won his very first track championship at Stafford. For the season Williams posted 4 wins, 14 top-5 and 17 top-10 finishes.
Tom Fearn and the #92 King Ward Coach Lines team enjoyed a season for the ages in the NWAAS Division II, Late Models. In 21 starts this season, Fearn finished on the podium 19 times with 12 wins, 6 second place finishes, and one third place finish. Fearn’s 12 wins this season set a Stafford Speedway Late Model division record and he also set a division record with six consecutive wins from May 18 to June 22. For the season Fearn posted 12 wins, 19 top-5 and 19 top-10 finishes with a miniscule average finish of 2.4. Fearn’s 12 wins this season also made him Stafford’s winningest driver in Late Model history with 48 career wins, passing Ryan Posocco who had 45 career Late Model wins at Stafford.
The NWAAS Division III, SK Light Modifieds, produced one of the tightest championship races in the track’s long and storied history. Marcello Rufrano and Bryan Narducci, two drivers who grew up racing against each other in the Stafford Wild Thing Kart Series, renewed their friendly rivalry in grand fashion this season. The two drivers took turns swapping the point lead back and forth this season with the pair combining to win 11 of 21 races. Rufrano took the checkered flag in the biggest SK Light race of the season, the May 25 Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night extra distance race that paid an SK Light season high $2,025 with purse and contingency bonuses. Narducci looked to have the championship within his grasp late in the season, but two 15th place finishes in the 4 races leading into the season ending NAPA Fall Final allowed Rufrano to enter that race tied with Narducci in the standings. As the two were racing for the lead in the final race, they made contact and both drivers crashed out of the race. With Rufrano being in front of Narducci on the last completed green flag lap, he was scored one position ahead of Narducci and became the SK Light champion. For the season, Rufrano and the #88 Wheelers Auto Service team posted 6 wins, 11 top-5, and 16 top-10 finishes.
Other division champions were Limited Late Model, Jeremy Lavoie and George Bessette, Jr. in the Street Stocks.
The NAPA Auto Parts Rookie of the Year awards were presented to David Arute from the SK Modified® division and Al Saunders from the Late Model division. Taking home R.A.D. Automachine Rookie of the Year honors were Bryan Narducci in the SK Light division, Steven Midford in the Limited Late Model division, and Meghan Fuller in the Street Stock division. The NAPA Auto Parts rookie awards will be worth a $1,000 gift card redeemable at participating NAPA Stores to Arute and Saunders, with Narducci, Midford, and Fuller each winning a $500 bonus from R.A.D. Automachine that will be paid out in $100.00 weekly increments to each driver as they attend events during the 2019 season.
The winners of the Most Popular Driver Awards were Dan Avery in the SK Modified® division, Paul Arute in the Late Model division, Bryan Narducci from the SK Light division, Jeremy Lavoie from the Limited Late Model division, and Nicole Chambrello in the Street Stock division. The Most Popular Driver Awards are voted on by the fans who attend Stafford Motor Speedway race events and fill out the ballots found in the track’s weekly Pit Stopper Magazine combined with an online vote.
The UNOH Youth Achievement award was won by SK Light Modified driver Bryan Narducci. The UNOH Youth Achievement Award is a program that is open to all drivers at Stafford between the ages of 14-17. The eligible driver who scored the most track points from their best 14 finishes this season won a $500 cash award from UNOH as well as a $500 scholarship award from UNOH. Marcello Rufrano was the national UNOH Youth Achievement Award winner and he will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banquet in Charlotte next month.
There was racing for the Modifieds. The Modifieds were added as a second division to the Late Models that race at the Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina. There were 13 tour type Modifieds on hand including Tommy Catalano, Matt Hirschman, the Myers brothers and Woody Pitkat. Catalano led pole to pole to score the win. Hirschman finished second with Burt Myers, third. Bobby Measmer and Jason Myers rounded out the top five.
Joey Logano busted up The Big Three and captured an improbable first NASCAR title by soundly beating a trio of champions. Logano won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to grab his first Cup championship in a season in which he barely contended until the playoffs began.
Following an outstanding rookie season, Tyler Reddick became the NASCAR Xfinity Series champion. The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet capped off an extraordinary season in grand fashion by capturing the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship with a stirring victory in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. To take the title, Reddick outdueled his Championship 4 competitors Cole Custer (second), Daniel Hemric (fourth) and Christopher Bell (11th).
Last year, 2022, The Islip 300 took center stage at the Riverhead Raceway on the east end of Long Island on Saturday, November 12. A total purse of $32,650 awarded the winner $7,000. The late Eddie Partridge was the originator of the event. Anthony Nocella survived a slam-bang affair to take his first win at Riverhead Raceway in Saturday evening’s Islip 300. The event turned into a marathon session for competitors, fans and officials.
Now in its sixth year at the New York quarter-mile, today’s Islip 300 is a tribute to the long-distance races staged at the long-defunct Islip Speedway, a fifth-mile oval that was razed in the mid-1980s. The Islip 300 name was resurrected in 2017 as a year-ending Tour-type Modified showdown for the last active oval track on Long Island, with the track going as far as to paint the walls to resemble Islip itself. It took some nine and a half hours to run the event. Numerous cautions, poor performance by track crews and poor performance by race officials in coming up with restart lineups were a big problem.
The five prior Islip 300s have had a distinctly local flavor, despite the predictable influx of touring challengers. National star Ryan Preece, driving for Riverhead owner Eddie Partridge, won the 2018 and 2020 Islip 300s. Local racers Dillon Steuer, Kyle Soper and J.B. Fortin earned victories in the other three.
John Beatty, Jr. and Jimmy Blewett brought the field to the green flag, with Timmy Solomito charging to the lead early. Blewett settled in toward the front, but his evening ended early when he was pushed into the wall by defending winner John Fortin. Blewett exited his car and attempted to run down the fleeing Fortin to no avail. They met for tea later in the event.
Despite a lot of rough riding throughout the pack early on, Solomito was on his game at halfway to keep the trophy on Long Island.
Nocella cycled into the lead after pit stops with a third of the race still to go. As Nocella dueled with Roger Turbush out front, Matt Hirschman and Kyle Bonsignore sliced through the top ten on fresher tires, breaking the top five with 75 circuits left on the scoreboard. When the leaders opted to pit for their own tires under caution, Hirschman and Bonsignore assumed the lead. Driving a car prepared locally by Baker Racing rather than his more familiar mounts, Hirschman survived two quick restarts as Bonsignore dueled with Soper for second. A lap-277 caution and a red flag for track cleanup gave Bonsignore another shot at the lead, but contact coming to the green flag sent him for a spin across the frontstretch, collecting Soper and ending the evening for the 2019 winner. Beatty lined up alongside Hirschman for the restart, and as the two drove off from the field, Nocella sliced through traffic to crack the top three with eleven laps left. A restart erased the leaders’ advantage, and Nocella cleared Beatty quickly on the restart before grabbing the lead from Hirschman. Another caution froze the field with nine laps to go, and Hirschman was moved back to the lead.
Hirschman ran Nocella high off turn four on the restart, but the Massachusetts veteran was unfazed, diving back under Hirschman a lap later for the lead. Hirschman cut down to defend, but the two made contact, with Hirschman sliding up the banking and out of the lead. Long after the sun disappeared, Nocella drove off and held on to take the win, with Beatty second and Hirschman third. Matthew Brode and Justin Brown rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Kyle Bonsignore Brett Meservey, Jeff Goodale, JB Fortin and Mike Christopher Jr.
Nocella’s $7,000 win came on the heels of his first Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series win in October at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. A week later, in a New England Supermodified Series feature at New London-Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl, Nocella took his first-ever big-block Supermodified checkered flag. In only four starts with the NASCAR Tour, the young racer still managed his first win in that sanction, stealing a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The event was shown live by FloRacing. Bob Finan, who has been the voice of auto racing on Long Island for many years, called the race before retiring to Florida.
The concept of the Islip 300 is a good one but the format needs to be changed. Count cautions is one way and eliminate a division is another way. Keeping fans for 9-1/2 hours is a bit much and will only drive them away,
Stafford Speedway officials put the finishing touches on their 2023 racing schedule. 23 events dot the calendar from late April to late September with a focus on weekly racing highlighted by special events throughout the season. The 2023 season marks the 53rd consecutive season the Stafford Springs, CT half-mile has been operated by the Arute family and will kick off with the biggest Modified event in the country, the 51st running of the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®, April 29th & 30th.
The 2023 NAPA Spring Sizzler® Weekend will once again be one of the biggest short track events of the year and will feature two separate days of racing. The NAPA Auto Parts Duel, two 40-lap qualifying races, will be held Saturday, April 29th and will set the field for Sunday’s 51st Spring Sizzler®. Also on the card for Saturday will be the Street Stocks, Limited Late Model, Vintage All-Stars, and for the first since 1985, the American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models.
“The core of the 2023 Stafford Speedway schedule remains weekly racing,” continued Arute. “Our weekly competitors put on a great show week in and week out. We are proud that they call Stafford Speedway home and look forward to continuing to tell each of their stories and further connect the race fans to the drivers that compete on the half-mile.”
Stafford’s 5 weekly divisions, including SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light Modified, Limited Late Model, and Street Stocks, are scheduled to compete every Friday night beginning with Opening Night on May 12th and running throughout 2023 culminating with the NAPA Auto Parts Champions Night on Friday, September 29th, where the season champions will be crowned.
Four Friday Night Open Modified events return to the Stafford speedway schedule in 2023, one per month throughout the season: May 19th – Call Before You Dig Open Modified 81, June 16th – Casella Waste Systems Open Modified 80, July 7th – GAF Roofing Open Modified 80 and August 18th – Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80. “Our Open Modified program has taken on a life of its own over the last few seasons,” explained Arute. “We’ll look to continue that success and further develop those events to become can’t miss races for drivers and fans. The 80-lap sprint style has proven to be the perfect format for great racing.”
In addition and capping off the season will be The Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series which will return to headline the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final with an 80-lap, $15,000 to win event on Saturday, September 23rd. The 2022 NAPA Fall Final saw 46 drivers vie for 33 starting spots.
The SBM 125 began in 2011 as an Open Modified event at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire. The race has been run under different forms of leadership since Jon McKennedy earned $7,225 by winning the inaugural SBM as a local track event in 2011. Next season it will take on a different chapter in its successful history as a premiere event at the quarter-mile. The 12th Annual SBM 125 will now take place as part of Star Classic Weekend, and will be managed by the Modified Racing Series. The Sunday, September 17 event will come with an enhanced base payoff for competing MRS teams.
The Modified Racing Series had a bit of a resurgence in this past fall, drawing a full field of cars to Star this past September, and 32 race teams for the season finale at Thompson, Conn., last month, where Jacob Perry surpassed Kirk Alexander to win the MRS Drivers Championship. Gary Casella took home the car owner hardware. Both are eager to return to Star for the 2023 event.
Happy Birthday wishes to Robert “Slim” Ross who recently turned his 90th lap. Ross owned and built the Bounty Hunter 222 that was driven at the Norwood Arena by the late Fred DeSarro.
The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. 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!
With the cooperation of the Arute family another 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).