Second To One: Big Wins Have Woody Pitkat Leaving Huge Mark On Hometown Stafford Speedway

Woody Pitkat (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Woody Pitkat (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images for NASCAR)

When it comes to the history of Modified racing in the Northeast there are few names bigger in the game than that of Bugsy Stevens.

And Stafford’s Woody Pitkat is just fine right now with sharing a place in the historical lore of Stafford Motor Speedway with the legend Stevens.

The chances are likley, he won’t be sharing with Stevens much longer.

No matter how one plays the historical numbers game at Stafford Motor Speedway, the accomplishments of Woody Pitkat behind the wheel of various racecars at his hometown track are astounding.

The Stafford Motor Speedway record book counted Pitkat’s May 22 Valenti Modified Racing Series victory as the 73rd feature win of his career at the track. But that list of feature wins includes a victory in a 16-lap “B-Main” type consolation event in the Late Model division at the track in 2006.

“I don’t count that,” Pitkat said Wednesday.

The 35-year old Pitkat began his racing career at Stafford competing in the track’s entry level DARE Stock division at 16 years old. At Stafford he has 27 SK Modified division victories, 39 Late Model victories, three DARE Stock feature wins, two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins and a Valenti Modified Racing Series victory. He won Late Model division championships at Stafford in 2006 and 2012 and won the SK Modified division championship in 2013.

With 72 victories, Pitkat and Stevens share second place on the track’s all-time win list. Ted Christopher of Plainville is the track’s all-time winningest driver with 123 feature victories.

“It’s obviously huge just because of what [Stevens] has accomplished,” Pitkat said. “I think it’s a pretty huge accomplishment. Teddy is kind of way out there. If I was still running a Late Model and when I was doing a little bit better in the SK [Modified], I might be able to think about that. It’s definitely a big accomplishment, especially with the names that are up there. Just his name, Bugsy’s name, to be able to put yourself among that status is kind of cool.”

And don’t bet against Pitkat taking over true sole possession of second place on that all-time list – no matter how you slice it – on Friday when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads back to the half-mile oval for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125.

Pitkat has won two of the last three Whelen Modified Tour events at Stafford. He picked up his first career Whelen Modified Tour victory in the Call Before You Dig 150 on Aug. 8, 2014 at Stafford. He won the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at the track on April 26.

In 27 career Whelen Modified Tour starts at Stafford dating back to 2007, Pitkat has an average finish of 13.2. Since joining Buzz Chew Racing before the start of the 2014 season he has an average finish of 3.4 in five events for the team in events at Stafford. He’s finished no worse than sixth in the last five Whelen Modified Tour events at the track.

“Just the way that we’ve been running there, and I think that they just know my type of setup and the way that I maneuver around the track I guess it’s just fitting my style right now,” said Pitkat, who also competes full-time in Stafford’s SK Modified division. “Obviously they prepare the best cars, I believe, on the Tour. [Crew chief Ron St-Marie] is working on that car every day. Pretty much they have two guys in there all summer overlooking everything two, three, four times. Hopefully we can go down there Friday and do the same thing [we did at the Spring Sizzler]. There’s definitely huge confidence right now when we go to Stafford that we probably have a little bit of an edge, with the seat time that I have there and the way the car has been going there.”

Pitkat goes into Friday’s event at Stafford sitting third in the Whelen Modified Tour standings. Ryan Preece, the 2013 series champion, sits atop the standings. Doug Coby, the 2012 and 2014 series champion is second, one point behind Preece. Pitkat sits two points behind Preece.

While Coby and Preece battled for much of the season half of the race at the front of the field in Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 161 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Pitkat rallied from an early left front flat tire to finish fifth in the event.

“I’m kind of kicking myself for trying to pass Derek [Ramstrom] on the outside so early at Waterford,” Pitkat said. “I kind of bounced off his [car] and gave myself a flat. Maybe I was pushing the issue too soon. Obviously with the flat it kind of put us in a bad predicament, and with all the cautions it was kind of hard to get back through the field. We definitely had a car there. If that was another 20 laps, I don’t know if we would have been able to contend for the win, but we definitely would have been right up there battling for third at least.

“We’ve just got to keep the ball rolling and keep everybody on the same page and keep the momentum up and keep everybody with the positive feeling. In all honesty, the race [at Waterford] could have been a lot worse for us. And we’re close, it’s only two points.”


  1. What happened with the engine and the two carbs that nascar has taken this year?

  2. just a fan says

    i know everyone is doing it now …… but its completely wrong to compare what bugs stevens did to anyone else that did not do it in a REAL FULL BLOWN MODIFIED !!!!! its like taking a high school football team and comparing it to the N>F>L> ….not even in the same league….not even close …sorry…not woody he’s one of very few but 90 % of dare stock, late model and even alot of sk drivers could not even qualify a real modified in bugs days thu the heat races and consi… no less win a race ….its really a slap in the face to the stars that made the sport ….woody is a great driver but he won most of his racing in late models …then compare him to that …a couple tour wins in how many years on the tour in a real mod to bugs stevens at stafford ……..i don”t think so !!!!! again not even close !!!!!

  3. Chris D. says

    Oh boy, I knew this was coming. Do todays drivers compare to or are they as good as yesterdays drivers. I’ll play devils advocate. Consider this, if Bugsy came along today or when Woody started out, he’d have to run what’s out there today (the tour or sk’s). It’s pretty tough to win an sk race today due to the competition at Stafford, just ask Teddy. How many would Bugsy win today? Would Richard Petty win 200 races and 7 championships in todays cup series? One might argue it was just as easy to win on a given night at Stafford in 1975 as it is now, 40 years later. I don’t disagree with ya Just A Fan, I grew up a Geoff Bodine fan, so I get your point, but I do think todays drivers do compare if you judge it by strength of competition.

  4. just a fan says

    again the point was….. his wins 98% of them were not in a full blown modified so there is nothing to compare !!!! …. if you want to look at the competition side in bugs day….. every race at stafford was a tour race….the best drivers every week were there… as you said bodine , bouchard brothers,desarro,flemke,evans,miller,ross,the list goes on and on ….all these are hall of fame drivers or went on to cup or raced cup …bugs did finished 6th in the coke 600 ….think any current weeky stafford drive could do that today…then add in most were 30 lap races with the fast cars starting in the back with the handicap….again the type of cars …pull out the woodchoper #15 couple or vega with a big block chevy that has more power than todays tour motors…no power steering….leaf springs…a half bucket seat…no radios …no spotters..throw todays guys in that car….most could not even turn the wheel untill the car was rolling … could put a guy like woody on the pole for a whole season and i bet you a million bucks he never wins a race against those guys….teddy is a good example 80% of his wins are sk wins ….look at his tour side wins in a real mod with better drivers… took him years to get a win in a tour car …something like close to 100 races before a win ….he has not won in years now on the tour but is the sk champ at stafford ….at the end of bugs career he drove the 4 car on the tour same 4 as today …a troyer just like todays cars…his last race 1987 fall final 200 stafford speedway leading at the end of the race ….new cars …new stars . drivers from his heyday….hes old …there young…hes still kicking ass….there was only one bugs stevens…he lost that race with a few to go… tire going down…. but willed that car to hang on to a third place finish in his last modified race…..

  5. Crazy in NY says

    I don’t agree with Chris D at all. The Bug man had to run against guys named Flemke,DeSarro, Potter
    Cleary, Charland,Evans Cook, Jarzombeck, Bouchard, and host of others back in the day.
    It’s tough to compare one era from another but if Buggsy were in his prime today , IMO he’d be right
    in the mix with Rocco, Teddy, Preece,Pitkat and anybody else you want to name. Good is good no matter
    the time and place.

  6. Tom Neff says

    Statistics don’t paint “The Big Picture.” No way do those who Teddy and Woody race against, both talent and number-wise, come even close to Bugs’ competitors – Bodine, Flemke, DeSarro, Cleary, Evans, et al…

  7. You can’t even compare the drivers because the cars of yesterday and today are totally different . The cup cars didn’t have power steering until bodine went down there . Do you really think some of these young kids could even turn the steering wheel on one of those coupes ? Not even close those guys of yesterday were hero’s !

  8. just a fan says

    thanks … tom neff ..your right on…if you were not part of that day its hard for people to understand ….racing was a lot bigger on the local level back then …a lot more great drivers ….a ton of them made there living off it ….real mods were 90% of all the tracks programs …but stafford was a daytona 500 every week ….super bowl every week …the best of the best …not like today were most of the field are lower division street stock drivers driving a sk …. different time …different drivers…a lot more talent because of the size of the sport in the real modified division

  9. just a fan says

    also back then racing was different on the track ….really no nerf bars to speak of….none behind the rear tires …they raced clean ..with respect …you had to work to pass a guy … not off the glass and in style of today …hell most of all the passing today is a slide job …run the guy up the track …move him out of the way …you did that back then …you went home with a black eye !!!! ….everyone knows teddys deal at least half or more of his wins he took someone out to get it ….

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