No Major Changes For Late Model Division At Stafford Speedway For 2019

Tom Fearn (92) and Tyler Leary (11) in Late Model action at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – With the Late Model division ready to compete in their extra distance Call Before You Dig 50 Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway, competitors in the division were offered some news for the 2019 season.

Tom Fox, director of racing operations at Stafford, said during the track driver’s meeting Friday that no major changes will be coming to the division for 2019.

“There are no major changes planned for the any division,” Fox said. “We’re building for the long term.”

Many have questioned whether or not wholesale rules changes, or even going to a different style car, could be in the works at Stafford.

The Late Model division got 19 cars for the season opening event on April 29, but car counts have hovered around 12 for much of the season.

Tom Fearn of East Longmeadow, Mass. has won 10 of 16 Late Model events this season.

“New rules sometimes benefit us because we seem to pick things up a lot quicker than some guys, but coming back next year with the same rules, I think that’s good for everybody,” Fearn said. “Any rule change costs money, whether it’s the plus side or minus wise for speed, it costs the racers money. So no rule changes, that will be pretty good I think for everybody. Maybe get our car count up even more next year for our weekly shows. Big shows we always seem to grab a few extra cars here and there. Hopefully [no changes] will help build a car count.”


  1. wmass01013 says

    Geeez of course the GUY who has won 10 of 16 races this year thinks NO changes is a GOOD THING!!

  2. Thank you almighty premier race track in New England for ignoring your fans!!! Have you not seen the low car counts in the LLM and LM divisions and you make no changes??? I will make a change with my wallet and only go the big shows next year. You could bring in another division or go the ACT rules so other cars can come and race. I hope Terry brings more races to Thompson and I will spend my hard money there. What a joke!!

  3. Could this all be part of the grand plan? That plan being to kill off the LM & LLM divisions alltogether. SMS management seems oblivious to the dwindling car counts in both divisions, while at the same time promoting the lame SK LITE division. If this is the plan the least they could do is get rid of the LITES and have TOUR TYPE & SK modifieds

  4. Rob, the lites put on awesome races week after week and many times are better the sk division. It’s fun the watch the young drivers compete with some of the veterans in this division. It’s the LM and LLM divisions that need serious work. and today we find out the Stafford leadership doesn’t care about the fans and fixing these two divisions with talented drivers. Just not enough of them. Shawn can you find out from Tom Fox what is exactly are the building for the long term? Maybe that will help fans like me better understand the thinking of those that are making these decisions. Thanks for the forum and excellent reporting

  5. Rob has not hidden the fact he’s an old Late Model guy so when he suggests getting rid of the SK Lights to make a point it makes sense to give him some leeway. Obviously if you go to the shows the Lights are one of the biggest reasons besides the SK’s for most.
    I and apparently a few others have moderated our race going at Stafford to include special shows that limit the tedious LM and LLM action to features. It’s not so much either division specifically. It’s having to endure both. 6 total for the night of cars that essentially look and race the same in very limited numbers with a very high probability of predictable results. That’s the part I don’t see any logic to continue.

  6. To run two heats in each division is a waste also. Run one race (heat) in each division-save a lot of time and less boredom

  7. The best thing for LLM and LM would be to have group qualifying during final practice. That way there wouldn’t be any heats, just features.

  8. Wouldn’t you like to know says

    Stafford Stubborn Speedway , a few years back they put out on FB asking fans what they wanted in a schedule or changes . Well many suggestions were noted several times from many different people . Some were fans some were drivers and some were owners. The suggestions ranged from scheduled nights off for divisions, ACT LM , PRO STOCK tour division and a few other great things like change the upper bathrooms. Out of those suggestions they changed the bathrooms , and by doing so you get to watch the same lame schedule for years while you p**s the high dollar beer and food down the drain . The LLM and LM divisions are so close in rules that if they decided to combined the 2 they would probably get 15-20 cars . Which then opens up the ACT LM to come in . Friday nights are in my opinion the best night to race and I’m sure they would find other teams that own those style cars will come and participate . It might not be the same 15-25 Act cars every week but they would get them there and let them figure out if Fridays work best for them . Another thing if you can’t get people to go to the track how do you expect to sell that high dollar horrible food . General admission should be $10 an adult so they can watch 5 divisions and really only go to watch 1 the SK .

  9. How about some car count stats 17 races in?
    The average car counts for the Streets, LLM, LM, SK Light and SKs have been 16.9, 10.2, 11.7, 23.7 and 22.8 respectively.
    Have the car counts dwindled? Yes and no.
    In the last four events the Streets are up about two cars over their season average. LLM’s and LM’s are essentially the same. The SK Lights are down about 4 cars and the SK’s down about 2.5 cars.
    Given the lack of rain outs and the grind over this particular season my take it these are great numbers. No one should be comparing the Streets to the LM’s because their numbers are stronger and increasing and the competition is fierce. Unless you hate Street Stocks or full bodied cars in which case no number would make you happy.
    LM’s and LLM’s numbers are what they are. Low and consistent.
    SK Lights you would expect a big drop because it’s a learning division with marginal teams experimenting and inordinately high car counts to start with. Even so the numbers are still very strong and the competition speaks for itself.
    SK’s down 2.5 cars in the premier division considering the grind, the wrecks and everything else also is outstanding.
    Many question the logic of Stafford keeping the status quo on the LM and LLM’s but don’t blame any other division as being sub par.

  10. Yes I am an old Late Model guy, and it saddens me to see what the division has become. Since SMS totally ignores the fans and competitors to increase car counts, or replace the LM division alltogether, here’s an idea. Run the L. & LLM features together. With electronic timing and scoring the cars could be on track at the same time. This would give the illusion of a full field. Maybe even give some money for an overall winner.

  11. Hillary 2028 says

    Just do what Waterford does. Group qualifying when you have 11 or less cars.

  12. Stafford has made their decision so discussion of what to do is mute at this point. But for the sake of discussion I would suggest a combined race would never work for the following reasons.
    1) with few exceptions regional oval track racing has always been by class with common rules. Each car taking the green on common ground with an equal chance to be first to the checker.
    2) if you’re a Street Stock team thinking of moving up its highly unlikely you would elect to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a LLM with the guarantee of getting run over every race and never being the first to get the checkered flag. They’d go SK Light.
    3) The cars look the same to the average fans and they’d wonder what the heck was going on. LLM drivers were permanently view themselves as second class citizens and ask why bother.
    4) Aside from the move to SK’s that was forced on Stafford for economic reasons they have never been big risk takers with new divisions and experiments. Unless they absolutely have to.

    Now if you want to destroy the LLM’s but give the holdovers a chance on the track then OK. But it’s a loser if you’re pretending to build a viable division.
    Based on car counts at other tracks we’re spoiled at Stafford. SK’s and Lights are a wealth of riches and many of us think the Streets are pretty terrific.
    I love Bob Npt’s idea but it will never happen.
    Our only hope is for Stafford to do what they used to. LLM’s or LM’s last for the night and based on their record we can forget that.

  13. Hillary 2028 says

    Just think, without those two divisions when would you get to the bathrooms or grab a beer? I don’t know how the the races have actually been at Stafford. But with the 10 or so late models at Waterford, they can put on one heck of a show.

  14. Did you expect anything less? Of course they are scared to rock the boat, give in to the ACT specs because Mark thinks they will come back. It’s to bad really, there could be a strong weekly field seeing how there’s more ACT type cars around than nonconforming “Stafford Spec” late models. Maybe the track has no idea how to introduce the modern late model without making their car look like a pile. The only thing holding back Stafford Motor Speedway is Stafford Motor Speedway. And.. why are SK lights a division 5 when they bring more then twice the car count over the skeleton crew of late models. Pretty soon, they won’t be able to field a heat race. Combined races? This isn’t a road course with 2 minute lap times. A lap is done in about 20 seconds depending on the division. Putting them together would be an absolute nightmare because of the lap time differences and they run a different amount of laps.

  15. I think you could easily run the two late model divisions together. The Limiteds have the wing on the back, while ugly it distinguishes the limited from the late model. Different laps yes. I say run them 25 laps instead of 20 and 30. Keep separate points and winners lane celebration. Run two heats one for all the limiteds, one for all the late models. Separate them if you get over a combined 32 cars. Now demote the combined late model class to level 3 and promote the sk lights to level 2 run them 30 laps. Thompson a bigger faster track was having an SK car count issue and ran SK lights with the SK’s. There are no visible differences between the two divisions unlike the limited and lates and I don’t remember any on track issues with the combined class. There is no drivers doing double duty in both limited and lates, the lap times are about 1 second off when comparing fast guys. That may seem like a lot but the slowest late model is 8 tenths of a second slower than the fastest late model. I think they could easily run them together. Save some time and make the show more enjoyable for the fans. I know I would go back just to root for a limited against the late models.

    My guess is there is no way to introduce the ACT style late model into the Stafford style late model without obsoleting the Stafford late model. No amount of weight can safely be bolted on to equalize the two cars. I doubt keeping the division rules largely unchanged will all of sudden cause a spike in car count. The rules have remained largely unchanged and the count has basically gone down a car or two each year to the avg of 10 and 12 cars. There biggest race didn’t draw any additional cars. I am not sure drivers want to build a car that is limited to one track, It limits your options and resale.

    The ACT late models are the industry standard in the north east with Waterford, Thompson, Seekonk, Star, White Mountain, and thunderroad are running them. Thompson and Seekonk get close to 20 each time they run and they are on limited schedules. None of the local tracks run ACT style late models on Fridays. Seems like it would be a good fit for Stafford.

  16. Fast Eddie says

    CG, I like your style! As a “plan B”, I wonder how hard it would be to convert a Stafford LM into an LLM? Maybe the LM class could be dropped altogether. (No offense meant to the LM guys) Other tracks with the same issue have done this with LLM being the top weekly “door car” category. It seemed many racers wanting to stay at the “home track” did drop down, and some moved to ACT.
    AND THEN… maybe have a monthly ACT event to test the waters. If the car counts look promising, it could progress to bi-weekly or maybe to weekly. I’d bet over a couple of year period the changeover would be complete, giving larger LLM car counts and the “new” ACT LM division. Stafford would then be back to having a good progression for “door car” drivers; Street Stock to LLM to ACT LM.

  17. As a long time late model fan at Stafford I feel the eventual change-over to ACT rules is the only option to realistically save the division. Other comments mention testing the water with once a month ACT rules events is a great idea. Especially with all the other area tracks running them off on Friday nights. Despite all the fan comments Stafford chooses to do nothing. Even though I live nearby I will no longer attend weekly to watch boring 10 car feature events. Stafford Tour and MRS events only in the future for this fan. Maybe a few Albany Saratoga trips on Friday nights as they draw huge fields and actually listen to their fans.

  18. Does anyone realize that Waterford only draws 8-10 ACT cars per week? Thompson draws 17 on average and they only race a few times per year and on an off day which helps them pull from other tracks. The Act argument really makes no sense. I get the idea that teams can go track to track and race, but other than that why does it matter. They either draw 8 act LMs or 12 stafford LMs.
    Question for you RichO, would you rather see the track screw all the teams that own late models?

  19. Everyone realizes that the Speedbowl gets meager numbers in the LM’s but they also get them in the SK’s. The assumption would be Stafford could do better with ACT like they do in other divisions then Waterford.
    A lot of folks have mentioned gravitating to special shows as have I to avoid the LM and LLM’s. Apparently the crowd numbers are good enough without us that they are maintaining the status quo.
    These days it seems tracks think they need a lot of divisions vs long ago when 2 or three would suffice. So Stafford sticks with the weakness they know rather then take the chance of creating a whole new problem. Who can blame them if the numbers they have work for them. SK’s and SK Lights are what the overwhelming majority of people come for and no lower division musical chairs will change that dynamic.
    I suggest that most weekly fans don’t care that much and we may be the vocal ourliers. But whining can’t hurt. Run one heat in the LLM if you have 10 cars and run the LM or LLM feature last. Please!

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