An Open Letter To Keith Rocco Hater Nation

Keith Rocco

Keith Rocco

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.


Sane People


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  1. Words to live by.

  2. Known cheater says

    First in Keith Rocco is a cheater

  3. Fans can be the biggest jack ass sometime they say bad things on him how would they like it if people wished bad things on them . Just get over it All the people that don’t like keith you are just jealous ofhow talented he day when he quits racing every body that likes him and don’t like him will be saying wow he was the greatest driver in that era.

  4. Ray Skoglund says

    Well put.
    The guy and his crew work hard.
    And the results don’t lie.
    No doubt “Champ” is proud of both his sons.

  5. Michael O'Sullivan says

    Its funny when first you understand how a racecar works, then put that knowledge in with hard work and a natural ability to drive, that success comes, and then you realize, none of that had anything to do with the success you are having. Guess Evans, Bodine, Cook, Stefanik, Flemke,….. all of the greats, too many to list, were all nothing but cheaters!

  6. Every winner outs his heart an soul into racing and the crews work vey hard to get the car prepared for each and every rsce then people complain the cheat and the techs are in there favor so this goes onon at every track so just keep up the good work.

  7. Thats because christopher is dirty still is, rocco gordon and johnson are all cheaters.once a cheater always a cheater

  8. 4 what it is says

    if you hate rocco then you have hated bodine,evans,stefanick,ruggerio,potter,gada teddy and preece too. look he has good equipment ,he has a talented support group.sponsors want to be associated with a winner. and that gives him access to top quality rides..he started in strickly stocks.he has earned his bragging rights and perhaps as some haters believe he may not go beyond local short tracks .. as of late he is NOT dominating at stafford. he is strong at thompson but the car count is low and there are three or four other cars that are equal on any given night there and we are one race in!!!. he has hundreds of laps at the bowl in just about everything but a bandelero or super mod.if he is illegal it may eventually be found.the 3 or 4 cars at the bowl that have timed faster have sometimes NOT been there at the end due to attrition.I was there sat night and james would have gotten rocco if not for the brake problem.yeah I know its the thompson car ..I didn`t see what was done in the pits.rocco has gotten into everyones head with the davis tech comments in victory lane as well as the thompson gear comment. do we really know it had thompson gears ?? ok ok perhaps its a straight rear did anyone check?? who cares?? the other contenders were damaged from accidents and not up to par at the as far as the late model … I will keep my opinion to myself but will say the proof is in the pudding.. run again at thompson and pass tech or run an ACT show at the bowl and see what happens … the car counts in the late models are terrible at thompson and waterford. naturally there is going to be less competition.he has tremendous talent,great instincts and lots of luck.. so did all the others who dominated from time to time.its only May. lets see if everone is screaming in july and august. big fish in a small pond at the bowl.. medium fish in a small pond at thompson and a regular fish for now at stafford.

  9. Danny G. says

    I have watched Keith drive since he was a rookie the kid is a natural talent! If you don’t like him fine but give credit where credit is due! There is a reason he is in the car and you are not.

  10. Linda Brady says

    Here we go again…you are leaving TC alone and starting in on have to bash is the same ole story we can’t beat him on track so lets try something else..the man has talent learn to live with it

  11. I’ve seen a lot of drivers come and go but I have not seen anyone in the northeast come close to what Keith has done I bet Richie Evans is looking down on Keith and saying “good job that’s how you do it” everyone loves Ryan preecce and tommy Barrett but there not cheaters how come they win a lot to so if you think kid rock is cheating put your money where your mouth is and file a pro test I’m sure Keith and crew will buy you a beer with your money when he clears tech keep it up Keith you are the best

  12. Kneel & Pork says

    I think he sucks. He only wins because he has Junior Woods and Scott Fearn. If it wasn’t for these two guys knowledge Keith would be a no one. That Fearn has been nothing but a mentor for Keith. Junior teamed up with Scott Fearn years ago and the two have formed a great relationship with Keith and have guided he to all his wins. Again, if Fearn and Woods leave Keith , all he will be is a no body period!!!!!!

  13. mike pane says

    Looks like. He has the same problem as danica

  14. hello im the pacecar driver for the speedbowl and yes i did rain that night so the person that said it didnt rain must of been at another track as for kieth rocco love him or hate him the kid a wheelman he knows how to get the job done and yes when he came to the track with the thompson car of course its gonna raise questions but remember the guy is a wheelman

  15. Kneel & pork if you really knew anything you would use your real name . LOSER!!! Keep it up Keith and crew. Everybody else just needs to do there homework better.

  16. I have been a Keith Rocco fan for many years now. I wasn’t alive when Richie Evans raced but, family members of mine were and they would call him a re-incarnation of Richie! He can put that car in places that many never thought would happen. Its truly amazing to watch Keith race and win! He can seriously wheel a car and I will always be a fan! He has a will to win and that is why he sent his team to go get the other car and I believe he won because he had that will! He’s an awesome driver!

  17. Richard says

    Nobody likes it when one driver wins all the time I go to seekonk speedway and nobody likes gerry in the late models there because of him winner a lot .years ago it was Rick Martin they didn’t like . Next year it will be someone else


    When Richie Evans started getting booed in New England when he was winning alot Eddie Flemke told him to ignore it you must be doing something right. Keep up the good work Keith you have many more fans than haters.

  19. mike pane says

    He won 40 or 50 races in the 57 there was no woods or fern helping then until u have worked in the garage with him and his brother u shouldn’t make comments

  20. Not Stan Greger says

    I’ve heard that Kieth cruises through inspection at the Speedbowl because his Dad made a deal with Terry Eames to allow him to cheat if he would accept half of the normal winnings on Saturday nights.

    If its true that Junior Woods and Mr. Fern are some sort of mentors to Kieth, maybe they could show him how to pick up a dinner tab sometime. I’ve heard he’s as tight as they get with a buck. Not to mention that that Thompson car is illegal to run at Waterford too.

    On top of all that, how come he paid Bruce Thomas once to block for him in some late model races? That’s not a champion if you ask me!

  21. lunchbox says

    No doubt that Keith can drive, but I do doubt that he is that much better than every car in the field at Waterford, there are other good drivers with top notch equipment as well and they cant run with him, he passes people like they are standing still. If he dominated on the tour where the cars are equal I would never say anything but he hasn’t done anything in a tour car and no MRS don’t count! He has been in good tour cars and was average at best but for some reason in a SK he is untouchable, just doesn’t add up in my opinion.

  22. I have not been a kid roc fan but after the move I saw last Friday night on a long time blocker, I mean competitor, he is now in my personal fan club…

    Btw i didn’t know that junior woods and Scott fearn drove the sk that night… Oh that’s right they didn’t… Keith did. The kid can drive .. get over it. Put him in anything and he can get it done. He’s teddy only younger. Hated everywhere he goes and wins almost everywhere he goes. Don’t forget He was on teddys team as a kid, followed his father around and has had the right people around him to learn from.. But like everything else you still have to drive it, best setup in the world means nothing if you can’t wheel it.

    None of you have proof he’s cheating… None.. with a car setup for long straights and high banks he showed why he’s that good… Traction control?! ya maybe but its in his shoe!

  23. Ken Woodward Jr. says

    The biggest thing he’s not as far like Ritchie Evans is “HUMBLE”, because being arrogant and cocky is a choice, not a “right”, and Ritchie chose to be respected !! That being said, he is one of the most talented local short track driver out there. 🙂

  24. I would like to see one rule change. Each driver has to race the one car they showed up at the track and registered with. Rocco’s advantage comes from the fact that he has gone to a second car on many occasions, whether it was his or someone else is car when his car has had issues. An engine change is one thing but a 1 driver, 1 car per night rule is needed.

  25. Jealousy is a mean mean thing. No matter who a person has behind them the driver wins the race. Being a mother of a teenage driver I can say that. No one won his races but his driving. Get over it people.

  26. Shaun everything you wrote about Keith is spot on. Problem is thats where it ends. An outstanding short track driver that can win everywhere he races. No one can dispute his talent. He’s got a ton. Probably on of the best to come down the pike for a long time.
    But where is he going. If his ambitions are to stay in Connecticut and race in its three tracks than he is living his dream. In todays NASCAR more is expected from a talented driver. Keith in that case does not fit the mold there looking for. Now just going out and winning is not enough. It is a great start but it does not get you the brass ring. Speak of Bodines (all three) Spencer, Bouchard and others but your speaking of a time long gone. They didn’t need to be able to stand in front of board rooms or corporate sponsors, although Geoff, an engineer, had is own innovative talent to sell as well. Now a day thats more the norm for a driver. Dale Carnegie training is just as important as winning races. Talent can only open the door. The Owners and sponsors also want a polished driver that can charm the dollars from the the big money moguls. Thats where Keith falls short. Sad to say it but its what it is.
    Keith will do very well until his career comes to an end but like many before him he will be only known as one hell of a short track racer. Ryan Preece on the other hand is going to go places and will succeed in the uppermost areas of the sport. He is what some say “The Whole Package”….

  27. Rob Walendy says

    Haters gonna hate.

  28. Mike pane??? I’ve been going to the bowl for a long time and I’ve never heard of you or this 57 car that has 50 wins….was it a mini stock???

  29. Hey Mark, you ever hear of a backup car? I’m not a fan of Rocco, and he IS cocky, but like Grampa said, “it ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.”

  30. mikepane says

    shane hopkins { the coach } was the one person who had the most influence on keith early on in the sk. the one thing they should do on this site is if you dont put your real name, your comments dont get posted

  31. I have been into Ct. short tracks for nearly 50 years and their is no doubt Keith is the real deal. I remember Keith and Jeff helping Teddy when they were young kids.I guess they both paid attention and learned. I remember hearing all the same crap with Evans and Bodine and then in later years Teddy. All these shoes I named besides great natural talent also have a huge dedication and knowledge of the cars they drive so well. They have excellent , well funded equipment, and eat ,sleep, and live racing and deserve all of their success.

  32. Kneel = Scott Fearn
    Pork = Junior Woods

    Pretty obvious by their aliases…..

    Keith knows his way around a racecar…chassis, engine, tires, etc…Can’t buy that, can’t take it away. Learned it from some of the best around over the years – Dad, TC, etc.

    That knowledge + his talent = most well rounded driver in the local area, in my opinion.

    and he’s human – hasn’t had the greatest past 13 months at Stafford. Pretty sure he’s not cheating up there. If he is, it certainly is not paying off!

    Preece? Great talent – probably has the most God-given talent in the Northeast open wheel scene.,,,Followed closely by Barrett.

    but if i have to pick one driver to drive and win at any 4 wheeled racecar at a Northeast track? I’m picking Keith.

  33. @junior_woods says

    Hey hey now….I feel like I’m more the kneel and Scott’s the pork… that racedayct has this forum! Now it’s back to cheating up Keith’s cars….

  34. I heard that the Rocco’s are going to buy the speedbowl and change the name to the Rocco Bowl. If you think he’s cheating now just wait until Keith owns the track.

  35. Crazy in NY says

    “Everybody hates a winner” A long quoted phrase not based in fact. Evans, DeSarro
    Stevens and Flemke Sr were all winners and not hated. Keith Rocco is one giant talent
    to be sure but he’s also dirty. Mirror driving, brake checks and bumper passing he’s
    not above. Think I’m wrong?. Go check Sids View video of the Blast off Weekend from
    2013. Ask the 51 or the 64 if he’s straight. A student from the Christopher School isn’t
    going to be any different. SK type driving has crept into the the Tour now and Kid Wreck
    should feel at home there. But he is one fast mother I’ll give him that.

  36. @junior_woods says

    I’ll at least vouch for Keith, that as long as I’ve known him, he’s the only sk in the field without any mirrors. That goes for every car he drives. Stop by and look for yourself.

  37. Per the Speedbowls Race Procedure….
    I. Car numbers may not be transfered to another car once qualifying has been completed. Drivers wishing to change cars must move to a qualified car. Multiple entries (back-up cars with the same car number) by the same driver or owner are allowed to enter the pit area, but may not be used unless they qualify that car.
    So not sure how he was allowed to run the second car?

  38. In the know says

    Umm every car was qualified. It was a short field, so of u showed up with a car after qualifying you would be allowed to race as long as there was less than 26 cars that qualified……no matter who you were. That’s how. Just like it has happened hundreds of times before lol. Frank Ruocco did it every week at stafford last year. Ted does it every time the tour is at louden.

  39. @Junior – Actually, I figured Scott was more likely to be the one to “kneel/get on his knees”…

    Modracer – I gotta believe with the lower car counts these days, every car is “qualified”, if you will, to run the feature even before the heats, at least for regular weekly shows….been plenty of times cars/drivers have not made it to the ‘Bowl in time for heats and still ran the feature.

    Also, I have to believe the Race/Competition Director reserved the right to make any final rulings or exceptions.

  40. 1.13 Promoters Option

    The Waterford Speedbowl reserves the right to add competitors to any starting lineup at their sole discretion. Additionally, The Waterford Speedbowl reserves the right to add cars to the rear of the starting field of any rescheduled race in which no laps have been completed.

    Ya missed this little tid bit of information. It’s always up to the race director.

  41. In the know is correct except stafford is not allowing that this year.which is why frank ruocco is back to running heat races. last year he would show up late and just run the feature but they changed that rule this year

  42. In the know says

    Fred are you sure….I believe stafford won’t let you buy tires if you don’t run the heat race, also if there is more than 26 cars you would have to…..I think frank will run the heats because he wants tires.
    Does anyone on here even go to the races??? Do you really think stafford would make a rule, that twice a year would force ted, coby, and Preece to not race…..

  43. Folks forget when Phil Rondeau cleaned house in the Late Models at all three Ct tracks, wimming champinships at all three in one year, the old Tri-Track program. Not only did he win every week here, he also won the Pocono Late Model race the same year, the 100 lap race at Thompson as well as other’s. They kept blasting him for cheating, but hard work and dedication by him and his crew

  44. In the know.. you are right I was mistaken.. you won’t get a tire card the next week if you don’t make the heats.

  45. Saturday Night racers don’t need backup cars.If you wreck in practice, you load up and come back next week. The idea is to win a championship, not buy one.

  46. The cry of “Cheater!” among motorsports fans belies a lack of personal growth beyond the ability to spell cheater and the inability to understand how racecars and racing works.

  47. OLD MAN says

    Mike Pane you have the best two comments posted

  48. Zee Rocco says

    There are a lot of drivers I dislike on the track and yes it’s because they are talented and some very young but they make the race excited as Keith does. I still hope theses young drivers get an opportunity to get further than Keith has. Now NASCAR looks for young drivers just wish they were scouting 5 years ago. Not too many drivers can run trucks,late models, MRS,SK.’s, legends and NEMA Lite and win in just about everything he drives. I am a very prould MOM and have 2 talented sons. For all the haters it is what it is but you can’t say he s not talented. God Bless

  49. GROW UP says

    Until you’ve actually gotten out there with them, raced, or worked on a car night after night until it’s just right, it’s called your opinion and well we all know what they say abt opinions! Haters will be haters, Keep it up Keith…cant fake talent!

  50. Andy da woodchuck says

    That’s right you can’t fake talent but you also can’t shake that label “cheater” once your caught. Teddy C. had alot more haters than Keith and Teddy NEVER had to have a ghost writer write “The haters are getting to me please make it stop” letter.

  51. Oh Andy I bet Rocco paid Shawn to write this just like he pays Terry to pass tech.

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