Multi-Time Stafford Speedway Champion Michael Bennett Walking Away From Racing

Michael Bennett working on his car during a practice on April 21 at Stafford Speedway

Michael Bennett’s racing career at Stafford Motor Speedway has included a multitude of moments on the track that had fans on their feet making plenty of noise.

On Sunday at Stafford Speedway there was an eruption from the crowd when Bennett and Tom Fearn ended up crashing into the frontstretch wall during the 30-lap Late Model feature in a battle for the lead.

Little did those reacting fans know at that moment they had just watched the final moment of Bennett’s racing career at Stafford.

The 34-year old Bennett, a third generation racer at Stafford with a pair of championships and 39 career victories, announced Wednesday that he will walk away from the sport.

“I knew that deep down this was coming, I just didn’t know when,” Bennett told RaceDayCT. “I guess really this decision is solely based on me and my feelings. I feel like in the past few years I’ve been racing for, you know, my sponsors that have always supported me, Bingo [Bob Navratil] that owns the car and has financially helped me huge the past few years. For my family, for my father. … My entire family, especially my parents. I know the joy they get out of seeing their son go out there and perform every week. I know I’m just as proud of mine son playing farm league baseball right now, so I can just imagine what they feel like when I’m out on the racetrack representing so many people and having success doing this … since 2002. … I’ve been doing it for those people and not for myself the last few years.”

Bennett, who started racing at Stafford in 2002 in the former DARE Stock division, walks away from Stafford Speedway having racked up some gaudy numbers.

His 39 career victories puts him eighth overall on the track’s all-time win list. He won the 2015 Late Model championship and his 20 career feature victories in the division is tied for eighth all-time. All 14 of his victories in the Limited Late Model division came in 2005 when he won the division’s championship. He also had four DARE Stock wins and one victory in a Late Model 16 event.

“All those stats will always be there,” Bennett said. “I think, I guess I don’t realize how many races we won. Everything I always did I always put my heart and soul into and I always wanted to win or be the best. So I guess I always expected that out of me personally to always be on top and we always did those things. It’s great to have these pictures and stuff like that, but I don’t know. I feel like maybe I could have done more with the sport with different opportunities, but I’m very thankful for the opportunities that I had to do the things that we were able to do. I think it’s great. Of course, who doesn’t want to win races and win championships. But I kind of expected it out of myself. I kind of set my standards or goals really in everything I do, so I guess I kind of expected to be a champion down there.”

Bennett said he found himself the past few years constantly thinking about walking away.

“I kind of hinted here or there with just comments that I knew that I was honestly feeling, but I just couldn’t follow with through with those and I would just continue racing and continue to prepare the car,” Bennett said. “It just became harder and harder for me to mentally be ready to go down to the race track. We always made sure the car was prepared to 110 percent and it just kind of, those things wore on me.”

He said he found himself hoping for rain outs last year.

“I’m constantly am checking the weather app all week long to see if I’m going to race, and I was praying for a rainout,” Bennett said. “Even when there was a slight chance or no chance, I was just hoping that it would rain out. And I kind of knew then and it was just ‘What am I doing?’”

Bennett said he woke up Sunday morning and told himself it would be his final Spring Sizzler weekend racing at the track.

“And I didn’t have these discussions with anybody, not even my wife, I just had these discussions to myself,” Bennett said. “I woke up Sunday morning and looked at myself in the mirror and I said ‘No matter this is your final Spring Sizzler.’ … Maybe I was trying to convince myself then that whatever the day brought it didn’t matter, that was my final Spring Sizzler.”

Michael Bennett (16) and Tom Fearn (92) get together on the frontstretch in a battle for the lead in the Late Model feature Sunday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor)

After crashing during the event he said he made the decision he was done.

“I’m sitting there for a quick moment and I had no desire to go home and rip the car apart and do the things that we need to do to [go back to Stafford Speedway Friday],” Bennett said. “I just knew that I just couldn’t do it no more. I told my family Sunday night. I told my wife, told my kids for the little bit that they understand, told my sponsors, told Bingo and Ben Dodge. Of course, nobody wanted me to – I don’t want to say give up or quit – nobody wanted me to stop racing. They enjoy it. But I just can’t do it no more. That’s all.

“I don’t hate the sport. I’m not against Stafford Speedway or anything. This is just based on what I need to do to start another chapter in my life. It’s just mentally taxing. It’s just, I can’t do it. I feel like by saying what I said Sunday to everybody, a weight, this huge burden weight was lifted off my shoulders and it was all for the better. It wasn’t because I was mad at the sport or anything, it was just that I have other things that I feel like I need to do.

“The timing was horrible. … It sucked. But, something happened right then in that moment that I knew that I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

To hear Michael Bennett open up much more about his decision to walk away from racing , the struggles he has had in making that decision and his legacy and history in racing, listen to this extended conversation we had with him Wednesday on this Unmuffled Quickcast.



  1. Sad to hear of Micheals departure from racing. I’ve always told myself and others that if your not having fun racing, stop racing. It appears he was no longer having fun. Wish Micheal the best going forward.

  2. Race 413 says

    Bennett walking away is sad.sounds like he’s been fighting the decision since last season, so why didn’t he step away at the end of last season. Late Models aren’t cheap, and betting his car owner spent good coin over the winter preparing the car, only to have his driver walk after 1 race. Hopefully Bingo can find someone to fill the seat and continue to race. Best of luck to Mike and his family

  3. Crazy in NY says

    Passion and dedication drive this sport more than money does. If your heart is no longer in it quitting is the thing to do. He has nothing to apologize for and he leaves behind a legacy as a champion. Good luck Michael on your future endeavors.

  4. Race 413 says

    Well said, Crazy

  5. Brian D says

    I’ll miss watching Magnum at the speedway. He leaves with an impressive tally of wins and accomplishments, definitely a racing career to be proud of.

  6. Blind as a Bat says

    Totally understand.Iiam sure plenty of drivers,crew members,car owners,go through this.Family is more important than any racecar,enjoy your kids and family

  7. maRK HAND SR says

    Michael, if your heart is not in t anymore you made the correct decision. You have a family and that’s more important than racing buddy! We all stand behind your decision and god bless and have no fears about your future!

  8. Viva race fan says

    Listen you’re doing the right thing and God bless you and your family. I walked away just now being my second season with only seven wins and two track championships. I bought a boat and I go fishing at least once a week. I hang out with my friends and family and we even talk racing on occasion. But most of the time it’s a business orientated or family structured conversations and after a recent bout with eBay and Craigslist I got rid of most of my reminders. Kept a few of my favorite trophies and gave the rest away. I’ve even stopped and watch a couple Heats and maybe 5 features last year. I actually feel like I don’t even belong. The youth movement is fun to watch but me and me and taking care of me is the most important thing. Hey thanks for all the great memories and I hope you make many more in a better place.

  9. Once again Good Luck Michael.
    Having raced against him, I can tell you that back then he was driven. Whatever has happened to have him make this tough decision is what matters most. This sport alone can bring the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Deciding to step away when your heart ain’t in it is the best thing to do, and who knows, someday he may decide to return. Either way it was an honor to race with him, and I wish him the best in whatever life brings

  10. So you got guys working hard on the car to race every week, a owner spending money for the team to race, sponsors butting money up and the driver is hoping for rain.

  11. Franky I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that way, I bet there is a few people that spent some cash this winter ,owner ,sponsors,season tickets probably should have made that decision last fall

  12. Franky, I was thinking the same thing, didn’t want to be the first to say anything. If he spent most of last year hoping for rain, why didn’t he quit last October? It sucks that his car owner spent good money getting the car ready, sponsors paid money to be on the car, and his team most likely spent allot of time working on the car, only to have their driver quit after wrecking out of the first race of the season. Hopefully Bingo can find someone to fill the seat and keep the sponsors happy, maybe bring some money too. And always remember Karma’s a fickle bitch even if he wants to race again down the road may be hard to find a ride.

  13. Woody seems like the logical choice to put in the car to me. He won in the 16 a couple years ago when Bennett was suspended, and he is only 5 wins behind Ryan Posocco on the all time late models win list.

  14. Anybody seen Doug a.k.a. welding wonders a.k.a. Sybil?

  15. Good luck to Mike in his future endeavors what ever that may be.I have gotten a rep here as a hot head responding to stupid people who make idiotic comments.It takes a brass pair to criticize someone for a personal choice that was made.Such wonderful folks worrying about owners, sponsors,or anyone other than Micheal Bennett.

  16. art, you can’t be all things to all people all the time. Try and you will certainly fail. Calling it as it is does not make one a hothead. Those that don’t want to read it will play the victim and accuse you of anything they can come up with.

    Good luck to Bennett, he obviously toiled with this decision and the impact it would have on others.

  17. Oh God I’m going to ralph. Sycophantic Depends dareal bonding with his only reliable stooge and missing the entire heart of this story while trolling. Which is a father’s struggle to deal with his sons diagnosis, treatment and remission of a life threatening ailment and living with the possibility of a recurrence every day. To reconcile his involvement in racing with a brutal life reality while working a job and providing for his family. Breaking away from racing is brutal under idea conditions. Bennett’s was not normal but only the most crass person living in the fantasy world of racing could not give the guy a pass under the circumstances.

  18. humphry says

    I am not being negative but as an outsider and knowing very little about this situation it sounds like there is more behind his decision than we know about.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing