New Roads: Michael Bennett Readying For Changes In Racing Scenery For 2016

Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett

When the Late Model division hits the track for heat race qualifying as part of the NAPA Spring Sizzler on April 23 at Stafford Motor Speedway there’s a good chance to Michael Bennett won’t be on the track.

Bennett, of Stafford, fully intends on competing in the season opening Late Model event at the track on April 24, but if he misses the qualifying event, he won’t lose any sleep.

Bennett, the 2015 Late Model division champion at Stafford, has decided that the 2016 racing season will be one about stepping back some from competition and putting more focus on family.

Bennett’s 4-year old son Chace has his first tee-ball game on April 23.

“How can I miss the opportunity to see him be part of a team and have fun and learn a sport because I’m out there racing?” Bennett said. “It’s on qualifying day. If I have to miss the heat race it’s still worth it to go see him play.”

The 32-year old Bennett has been competing full-time in various divisions at Stafford since he was 19 years old. He has decided the time has come to take a break from chasing points week after week after week.

Instead of racing full-time at Stafford Bennett will compete part-time with his Late Model at Stafford and also run an American-Canadian Tour type Late Model part-time at Thompson Speedway and the New London-Waterford Waterford Speedbowl. He also hopes to participate in the American-Canadian Tour Southern New England Tripleheader Series, which will have events at Thompson, New London-Waterford and Seekonk [Mass.] Speedway.

“It gives us a chance to race different race tracks that we’ve never raced,” Bennett said. “And we decided that we weren’t going to race anywhere full-time so it frees up a lot of time for my family. [Stafford Speedway is] the only place I’ve ever raced and I love racing there and why not, it’s right down the street from me. But I’m looking to getting to racetracks I’ve been to but never raced at. Free up some weekends and Friday nights to be able to do stuff with the family. I’m very fortunate that my family is involved in racing. To be able to still be able to race and have family time, why not do it? We’ll do what we can do and be able to do more with family.”

Bennett will race an American-Canadian Tour type car purchased by car owner Bob “Bingo” Navratil.

“Bingo is a big race fan, but he didn’t understand why we never raced Thompson,” Bennett said. “He goes to Thompson on a regular basis to watch racing. I had to explain to him that we didn’t have a car that was capable of racing there for rules. So then we got talking and we decided to buy an [American-Canadian Tour] car. It gave us an opportunity to look at Thompson’s schedule and the availability to do the [American-Canadian Tour Southern New England Tripleheader at Thompson, New London-Waterford Speedbowl and Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway].”

The 2015 season proved an emotional rollercoaster for Bennett and his wife Lindsay. Their first daughter, Tenley, was born in July. In early August Chace was diagnosed with Leukemia.

“Chace is doing very well,” Bennett said. “He was in remission in September. They told us the cancer is in remission. He’s been going through his treatments. We had a pretty intense few months from December to February. He handled the treatments very well and was able to receive every treatment that he needed. He’s been doing very well. He’s getting through the hardest parts of treatments. In April he’ll be going down to once a month, instead of the once or twice a week we’ve been doing. We’ll be getting to a point where his treatments are down to once a month. Everything is showing good signs and he’s been able to live life like any normal 4-year old.”

In addition to the support from Navratil, Bennett said local racing team owner and supporter Ben Dodge has been a pillar for him to lean on.

“He’s been so good to a lot of people in the racing community and he supports what I’m doing so much,” Bennett said of Dodge. “Even if its just the smallest thing sometimes, even if it’s advice. He’s been around doing this stuff a long time so it helps a lot just to talk to him sometimes. He’s helped me this winter getting this ACT car together. He’s a close family friend. He’s helped me so much, along with Bingo and my family and my race team along with all my sponsors.”

Bennett will also have support in 2016 from compete with support from Mastiff Armory, TSI Harley-Davidson, Think Green Pest Control, Alpine Tree Company, H&B Siding, Stafford Mechanical, Randy’s Trucking, Visual Perceptions, BA Muzio Plumbing, Tolland NAPA, Hilltop Restaurant, S&B Carpentry, Mirage Softball Team, Kris-10 and his grandmother Irene.

“It makes you feel a lot better that they’re in it for me too, supporting my beliefs in what I want to do racing and family-wise,” Bennett said.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing