RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Stafford Speedway Reopens With Fans; Tri-Track and Whelen Modified Two Day Double Header For NH Race Fans

RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WAVERLY, RI – The Stafford Motor Speedway began their 2020 racing season this past Friday night with a new twist.

The state of Connecticut mandated no more than a 25% attendance of fans be in the grandstand. Stafford holds 10,000. The 2500 allowed tickets went quick. In a bold move Stafford put its racing program on Pay per View. The newly offered option will be produced in-house by Stafford Speedway with management splitting the proceeds from the venture approximately 50-50 with track competitors. The bottom line is, about 25 percent of the price paid for the broadcasts will be returned directly to the track competitors.

The Stafford Speedway broadcasts were distributed through the SpeedSportTV Network. Paul Arute said that through the agreement with SpeedSportTV the track will keep 50 percent of the revenue from broadcast purchases. Arute said about half of that income will then be funneled directly back to teams participating in each event. Stafford Speedway. TV events will be priced at $20 for regular Friday night racing events and $30 for Open Modified and Pro Late Model events. Broadcasts will be available for all events at the track in 2020 except for those involving the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour which will be covered by NBC’s TrackPass.

For anyone who travels over 50 miles the Pay per View is good option. Friday being a workday makes traffic heavy plus the fact that gas being over $2.00 per gallon the $20 spent for Pay per View is affordable for a family of four!

In a non-related item, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has approved a comprehensive action plan to allow fans to attend the rescheduled NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 2. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN, Sirius XM NASCAR radio and PRN affiliates worldwide at 3 p.m. ET. The grandstands and suites at “The Magic Mile” will be open to race fans subject to social distancing requirements and additional health and safety protocols. The rescheduled Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 will be the largest fan event in New England since the onset of the pandemic.

In opening night action at Stafford before a sold out crowd, 126 cars lined the paddock area with Keith Rocco taking the SK Modified® feature, Wayne Coury, Jr. in the Late Model feature, Jonathan Puleo in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar in the Street Stock feature all becoming the first drivers to reach NAPA Victory Lane in 2020 at Stafford.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Ronnie Williams and Todd Owen went side by side for the lead at the green with Williams getting clear on lap-2. Michael Christopher, Jr. was third in the early laps with Cory DiMatteo moving into fourth and Keith Rocco was fifth. Rocco and Owen swapped the lead until lap 34 when he took it for good. Stephen Kopcik made a move to the inside of Woody Pitkat on lap-38 to move into third. Williams followed Kopcik by Pitkat to take fourth and drop Pitkat back to fifth. Sixth thru tenth were Mikey Flynn, David Arute, Matt Vassar, Michael Christopher, Jr. and Joey Ternullo, Jr. Rookie contender Bryan Narducci, finished 12th.

The win also took Rocco to a career overall total of 280 wins which which include 68 at Stafford Speedway, 150victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl,and 63 at the Thompson Speedway.

It appears that the Stafford Motor Speedway management team has hit a home run with its new Friday night format. The 2500 allowed attendance was a sell out as well as a great participation of Pay per View fans. The competitors are happy as they get a bonus from the TV money!

Coming up this Friday Friday, July 3, 2020 is the Firecracker Street Stock 30 & NASCAR Weekly Racing. General Admission Tickets SOLD OUT as of Sunday night.

In addition to Stafford on Friday the state of New Hampshire will host a Saturday- Sunday double header this weekend. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will feature plenty of fireworks on Saturday, the Fourth of July. NASCAR and White Mountain Motorsports Park jointly announced that the second race of the 2020 season for the tour will be held on Saturday, July 4, on the quarter-mile track in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. The Whelen Modified Tour will make its first trip to the central New Hampshire track. White Mountain, which runs Saturday night weekly racing, will run its local divisions following the Whelen Modified race and the evening will culminate with a firework show. Action begins at 6:00pm. The event which is limited to 50% of the track capacity will be televised live streamed by TrackPass.

Following the NASCAR announcement Tri Track Open Modified Series officials announced the series will move the originally scheduled season opener at Monadnock Speedway on July 4 to Sunday, July 5 in the best interest of race teams and fans. This will allow race fans to catch two modified races in the same state, on the same weekend, without both running at the same time.

The Whelen Modified Tour never publicizes its purses. The Monadnock event will pay a winner’s purse of $6,000 with $3,250 to be paid for second and $2,600 for third, with a total purse of more than $40,000. Any cars that don’t qualify for the race will still earn $500 if they pre-registered early and $300 if they registered day of the event.

That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-248-1307.