Dear Keith Rocco Hater Nation:
It’s said that everybody hates a winner and in racing that philosophy often seems far more in play than in other sports.
And it becomes even more pronounced when it’s a winner who wears their confidence openly in everything they do, like local driver Keith Rocco.
The fact is, Keith Rocco has earned every right to be confident, arrogant, cocky whatever you want to call it.
He’s the reigning king of weekly short track racing in New England and it’s a throne he’s occupied for a few years now.
Over the last five year’s he’s won championships in the premier SK Modified division at all three Connecticut short tracks. He won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship in 2010 and hasn’t finished outside the top-four in the national short track standings in more than seven years. He’s made the Waterford Speedbowl his personal playground of domination in not only the track’s premier SK Modified division, but also its second-tier Late Model division, where he won a championship in his first full-time season in 2013 and has won all four events in 2014.
Thus far in 2014 Rocco has started nine features at the Waterford Speedbowl and he has seven wins and two second places. He’s won four Late Model features, two SK Modified features and a 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event at Waterford this year. He also has an SK Modified division victory this year at Thompson Speedway.
And we get it Keith Rocco Hater Nation, you hate everything he stands for. And really, that’s understandable. We get that whole everybody hates a winner factor.
Ten years ago the same boos that now reign down on Rocco were being showered on one of his mentors in racing, Ted Christopher. Back then many around the Waterford Speedbowl called Christopher Darth Vader. He was the “Evil Empire”. It was hate because everywhere he went he won.
Take a look at Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson at the highest levels. Hating a winner sees no boundaries.
Yes, we get it.
But please, let’s channel that hate in a sane manner based at least in somewhat realistic possibility. Lets leave the wild conspiracy theories to crazy folks on talk radio.
We get that you are desperately looking for the hidden that will expose the magician’s ability. We know you want to find the secret compartment that hides that rabbit he pulls out of his hat regularly when most think his show might be over.
But y’all are going a little too far off the tracks of late.
Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl Rocco saw his primary car get wrecked in a heat race, sending his crew into desperation mode to get the team’s primary Thompson Speedway SK Modified car to the track for the feature. Rocco then took a car, essentially set up to race the high banks and long straightaways of Thompson and raced into victory on the tight confines of the Waterford Speedbowl.
And it seemed that even before the checkered flag was pulled back in on the starter’s stand Saturday night, the conspiracies were already running rampant: His car was illegal. He was allowed to race without having to go through inspection. The track lets him get away with anything he wants.
It took only minutes after the event before the channels of social media locally were burning up with all the reasons why what Rocco did was so wrong.
And as the days have gone by since the feat, those conspiracy thoughts have become increasingly more ridiculous.
On Saturday night, as the track worked through its six-feature racing card, rain started falling with a few laps left in the 50-lap Street Stock feature, with the SK Modifieds set to run next.
This week we heard one seemingly logical individual claim that the rain actually never happened. That the “rain delay” was manufactured by Speedbowl officials to give Rocco more time to get ready for the SK Modified feature.
If that was the case, that was a heck of a job track officials did in choreographing all the fans to get up and scurry from the grandstands at the same time, just as the moment that the “fake” rain began.
Yes it rained at the Waterford Speedbowl. We felt it, we saw it, it happened.
And then there’s the one about Rocco paying off the tech staff at tracks. Let’s think about this for a second. He’s been through tech more in the last five years at Waterford, Thompson and Stafford Motor Speedway than any other driver, and he’s paying them all off to get through clean? Where’s that sorta Bill Gates hush money rolling in from?
But yes, the hate and unfettered desire to knock down whatever Rocco accomplishes has become something around here that has clearly driven many delusional.
Just let it go. Reign the boos down, cheer when someone passes him, even offer catcalls if you want when you see him at the track. But let’s keep the JFK assassination “Grassy Knoll” type conspiracies out of the whole deal. It just makes fans sound like morons.