RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Stafford Sets August Schedule; Langley Speedway Legend Balluzzo Killed In Accident Saturday Night

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WAVERLY, RI – For the second week in a row rain washed out the entire racing program at Stafford. The Firecracker 30, an extra distance Street Stock race, will be run this Friday in conjunction with a regular program. Stafford will swing into action on Saturday night with the Bud Light Open Modified 80. Joining the Open Modifieds will be non point events for SK Light Modifieds – 30 laps and Street Stocks – 20 laps (non-points)

In a somewhat surprise, the Stafford Motor Speedway has dropped their NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event that was scheduled for August 7. “Unfortunately we were unable to come to an agreement with NASCAR to make the State of CT mandate of 25% capacity number work for the August Modified Tour event,” explained Stafford President Mark Arute. “2020 has been very challenging but we are happy to be racing and think we’ve come up with a great schedule for July and August.”

The month of August will kick off with the Twisted Tea Open Modified 80 slated for Saturday, August 1st. Also added to the schedule is the Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80 and the Call Before You Dig Pro Late Model 81 double header on Saturday, August 22nd. The month of August will feature 7 events over 31 days and is headlined by the NAPA Auto Parts Modified Open 100 on Friday, August 7 and the return of the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K 100 on Saturday, August 8th. Stafford’s weekly divisions will split the bill with the Limited Late Models and Street Stocks running on Friday the 7th and the SK Light Modifieds and Late Models joining the SK Modifieds® on Saturday the 8th.

“If the weather cooperates, we have a heck of a schedule lined up for July and August,” continued Arute. “We can’t thank NAPA Auto Parts enough, they’ve been a great partner over the years. We’re happy to continue the tradition of the NAPA SK 5K which has become one of the best events of the Summer. Pairing that with a 100-lap open show the night before puts together a great weekend of racing on the half-mile.” The NAPA Auto Parts Open Modified 100 event is an addition to the 2020 schedule. Open Modified teams will need to register for the event. Registration for this event is now open online at StaffordSpeedway.com. The registration fee for this event is $75 until July 31st.

August Schedule

Saturday, August 1st (Rain date Sunday, August 2nd)
Twisted Tea Open Modified 80: Open Modified 80, SK Light Modified 30 (non-track points), Street Stock 20 (non-track points)

Friday, August 7th

NAPA Auto Parts Open Modified 100: Open Modified 100, Limited Late Model 20, Street Stock 20

Saturday, August 8th (Rain date Sunday, August 9th)

NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K: SK Modified® 100, Late Model 30, SK Light Modified 20

Friday, August 14th

Stafford Speedway Weekly Racing – The Senator’s Cup: SK Modified® 40, Late Model 30, SK Light 20, Limited Late Model 20, Street Stock 20

Friday, August 21st

Stafford Speedway Weekly Racing: SK Modified® 40, Late Model 30, SK Light 20, Limited Late Model 20, Street Stock 20

Saturday, August 22nd (Rain date Sunday, August 23rd)

Call Before You Dig Pro Late Model 81 & Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80: Open Modified 80, Pro Late Model 81

Friday, August 29th

Stafford Speedway Weekly Racing: SK Modified® 40, Late Model 30, SK Light 20, Limited Late Model 20, Street Stock 20

NASCAR announced last Thursday that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to White Mountain Motorsports Park for the third race of the 2020 season. The quarter-mile in North Woodstock, New Hampshire, will host the tour on Saturday, Aug. 1, at 7 p.m. On July 25 the SBM-Tri Track event will be held at the Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire. Both events should be slam-bang events as officials from both series now permit the bump and run tactic. Les Hinkley owes Craig Lutz one and Matt Hirschman owes Justin Bonsignore one. Let the games begin!

In some sad news, Langley Speedway in Virginia lost one of its giants on Saturday night. Shawn Balluzzo, 64, died as a result of injuries sustained in a crash during a Modified feature at the Hampton, Virginia short track. Balluzzo struck a wall opening in Turn 2 on the 13th lap of the second feature of the night.

Balluzzo captured 11 Langley Speedway Modified track championships, four more than any other champion in track history. He made numerous Late Model Stock appearances across the region as well. He competed in four NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified events. He had won 35 Modified features since the track reopened in 2017. He won 16 of 17 last season, leading to a bounty against him.

Balluzzo finished second to Matt Carter in the first 50 lap feature on Saturday night. Balluzzo started the second in seventh-place and was running third when he and Chris Johnson came together out of Turn 2 on Lap 13. Balluzzo went airborne and suffered a front facing crash into the Turn 2 wall. The track confirmed his passing on Sunday morning.

Said the speedway management, “Our hearts are heavy this morning. Driver Shawn Balluzzo passed away following an incident during Saturday Night’s modified feature at Langley Speedway, leaving behind a championship legacy both on and off the track. He won the hearts of our fans with 11 track championships and a driving style that made him one of the most respected competitors we’ve ever known.

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