Marcello Rufrano Joins 2019 SK Mod Rookie Class At Stafford

(Press Release from Stafford Motor Speedway)
Marcello Rufrano with what was left of his SK Light Modified championship winning car Sept. 30 at the NAPA Fall Final at Stafford (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

When Stafford’s SK Modified® division hits the track for the season opening NAPA Spring Sizzler on April 26-28, defending SK Light champion Marcello Rufrano will be living a dream by being part of the starting field. 

Rufrano will make the jump from the SK Lights into the premier SK Modified® division in 2019 and he will go back to his original number 48 on his Wheelers Auto sponsored modified.

“It’s been a dream of mine to race in the SK Modified® division since I got started racing,” said Rufrano.  “I’ve wanted to race against Keith Rocco, Ronnie Williams, Matt Galko, and all those guys since I started racing and to finally achieve that goal is pretty cool.   This is something that my Dad and I have joked about since I was younger.  We’ve gotten better and better as a father/son combination, without my Dad none of this would be possible.  He’s always been the guy that’s been there in my ear as we try to win races.  To be racing SK’s this season with my Dad and Jimmy Fuller as the crew chief is pretty cool.  Keith [Rocco] has been racing the 88 for a while now and 48 was my first number in the DARE Stocks so I figured I’d go back to my roots this year.  I’m hoping I can make that number famous across the short tracks in New England.”

Rufrano’s journey to the SK Modified® division has been a quick progression through the ranks and Rufrano has found plenty of success thus far at Stafford.  Rufrano was a DARE Stock rookie in 2015 and he won twice before splitting his 2016 season between the DARE Stock and SK Light divisions.  Rufrano won his very first SK Light start in 2016, and he followed that up with 4 more wins in 2017.  Rufrano reached the pinnacle of the SK Lights this past season by winning 6 races and the championship.  Rufrano knows the competition in the SK Modified® division presents a tough challenge but he is eager to continue his winning ways at Stafford.

“I’ve gone from DARE Stocks to the SK Lights and now to the SK Modified® division and looking back, it wasn’t too long ago I was racing go karts on Monday nights,” said Rufrano.  “Rookie of the Year is definitely a goal on my mind.  If we can get at least one win this year, that would make my season and there would be a huge celebration for sure and it would be one of my best accomplishments in racing.  We could be the quickest guy out there or we could be mediocre, but we won’t know until we hit the track for the Spring Sizzler.  I’m sure we’ll be pretty good since we have a fast car and I have one of the best crew chiefs in the business, but I definitely have a lot more to add to my notebook before I’m on the same level as some of the guys who have been racing SK’s for a long time.”

Although Rufrano will be a newcomer to the SK Modified® division in 2019, he has already made two starts at Stafford and he won a race and finished 5th in points in the Sunoco Modified division at Thompson Speedway in 2018.  Rufrano finished 11th in the 2017 NAPA Fall Final SK Modified® feature event and he was running with the leaders in the 2018 NAPA Fall Final SK feature before a flat tire took him out of competition.  With his experience and the leadership of Jimmy Fuller turning the wrenches on his #48 car, Rufrano is cautiously optimistic about his chances at running up front and taking a win as a rookie driver.

“I got my feet wet in the Sunoco Modifieds at Thompson and we showed pretty good there and we were in the top-5 at the Fall Final at Stafford before we had a right rear tire go down, which kind of ended our day,” said Rufrano.  “Those runs give us some pretty good confidence going into the 2019 season and hopefully we can chase some wins.  I’m not getting my hopes up too high for 2019 knowing I’m going to be racing against some pretty tough competition.  I have great support from Wheelers Auto, Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair, Liguari Plumbing, Maturo Motors, Tick Mike, Moroso, and Waddell Communications so we’ll see how things go.”

The 2019 SK Modified® season will kick off at the 48th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® on April 26-28. Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now by calling the Speedway Box Office 860-684-2783 or online at

Do you enjoy what you’re reading and seeing here at RaceDayCT? Would you like to see continued coverage of New England short track racing? Your support can help ensure that professional coverage of short track racing can continue at RaceDayCT, and you can get some great rewards for that support. Patreon allows readers to make small monthly contributions to RaceDayCT that support the ongoing coverage of short track racing. Your pledge comes with exclusive tiered reward programs for offering that support. For just a $5 a month pledge fans can have access to the weekly Unmuffled podcast. For more information click the link here.


  1. A sleepy time for sure with regard to racing banter but there are interesting things afoot on the Stafford Team listing page. My observations on the heart and soul of Stafford, the SK’s.
    -40 listings so far less duplicates Berndt, Kopcik and Christopher making 37. Then taking out Hirschman who apparently is only saving his number and never shows making 36. For December that’s pretty great isn’t it?
    -pretty excited I’m seeing the 99 listed. No driver but just seeing the familiar white and gold gets the old blood percolating.
    -top tier cars Rocco, Williams and Berndt……….all there.
    -DJ Burnham who took a pass on the second half of the season last year may be back.
    -Avery and his protege’ Reen, one of my favorites……..check!
    -what would the season be like without the intrepid warrior Bowles………he’s there.
    -Quinn and Mike Christopher are listed as the owners of the 82 this year so we look forward to a full year of the guy that finished 2018 on a red hot streak.
    -Kopcik in but no Dowling so far. Hmm. The 99 maybe? Fingers crossed.
    -High School student body includes Moeller and Rufrano in what will surely prove to be first class equipment.
    -Second tier stalwarts and perpetual threats for a win Owen, Gervais and Galko……..check
    -many other guys not on my radar but in great equipment looking to improve over last year as well.
    All in all I just don’t see how at this early stage things could be shaping up much better.

  2. Question: What will Keith Rocco be driving? His own car? The Payne #57? A team car to Rufrano?

  3. Shop tours a few years back did a segment at Rocco’s shop. It’s huge and he has numerous cars he works on over the winter.
    Absent a story it’s difficult to say who owns what. The teams listing shows the Rufrano’s owning Keiths and their sons cars. Michael Gervais’s car is owned by Rocco. Rocco is listed as the crew chief for Casandra Cole’s SK Light car that I assume means he sets it up.Then there are the cars Rocco drives in the TTOMS, Stafford Opens and VMRS including the 88 that are another layer of who knows. The 57, his Thompson ride owned by Mark Pane……… Rocco working on it or setting it up………got me.
    What seems clear is that with regard to Stafford anyway the Rufrano’s are key money players in the Keith Rocco Racing stable at least for now.
    KRR Fabrication. Details coming soon. What’s that all about?

  4. Almost half those cars will be gone by June and SK Lights will have more cars by late July

  5. I did a quick review of the SK SKL Late model Limited car registrations. Its early but with the season pass early renewal discount having expired there was some incentive to register by end of last week. The Modified divisions look good., the full fendered late model divisions appear to be struggling to gain car count in spite of holding status quo on rule changes. It look like there could be some short fields once again next year.

    I will agree the SK field looks great. I was disappointed that Dimatteo (12 races last year)and Zachem (2 at the end of the year) were not listed yet. Tyler Leary of the Late Model division has a SK number registered though he also has a LM number. I would love to see Woody back in that 99. I think with the loss of TC, Pennink retirement and Preece moving on Stafford could use a big name driver added to the roster. Looks like the top 20 in points are mostly there with the exception of Dowling, Messervery, and Pennink. Last year, the SKs s had 42 drivers score points and 10 cars made every race last year

    SK lights roster is filling up nicely with 32 numbers registered which may include some duplicate drivers. The roster includes three women which will be nice to root for. A personal favorite of mine, Street Stock points champion George Bassette JR has filed an SK Light number registration. Last year they had 44 different drivers race with 7 making every show.

    Late models have 21 car numbers registered. The only notably missing driver who competed semi regularly last year is Glenn Reen. It looks like they picked up RJ Surdel from the Limited division. Tyler Leary is listed in the Late Models as well as the SK. Last year, the late models had 29 drivers score points and 5 cars made every race last year

    Limiteds Late models have 8 cars registered. Kyle Casagrande is added and they lost RJ Surdell to the Late models. Last year, the limiteds had a total of 17 different drivers score points with 3 making every show.

    Hopefully Stafford will run the limiteds and late models after the SK’s on nights in which they do not have a full field. I would not be disappointed if they combined these two divisions into one race to save some time. Personally I think it would be fun to root for a limited against the late models. They would have a nice David v Goliath underdog story going.

  6. Interesting factoids on Surdell.
    He told Matt Buckler on his show that he was using an unfreshened engine last year if memory serves. Now he’s moving up. Hope he has the horsepower now. Also unique is his crew chief who appeared on the show who is a tech geek in the best sense and very committed. His wife in fact Megan.
    One of the reasons I go to the Open and VMRS shows is to avoid having to suffer through the the LM’s and LLM’s. Saw them on Modifiedz Night and just am surprised how much they mess up my attention span of the event. It’s only a few heats that should be no big deal but somehow it just messes with my head.
    So this fan is also supporting putting the LLM’s especially at the tail end of the night like we Street Stocks were long ago. But I doubt Stafford will do it since the place would probably empty out completely.

  7. I love the fact that we can analyze rosters in December for a season that starts end of April. Meanwhile we have no idea who will be running at any other track in CT or even New England. Stafford is the the place to be. Can’t wait for 2019

  8. Hillary 2020 says

    Run the late models after the sk’s so the stands can clear out early? Yeah ok.

  9. Hillary 2020 says

    Exactly. Absolutely nothing to look forward to this racing season soical media wise besides Stafford. Is it really that hard for other tracks to do what Stafford does? Maybe it is.

  10. The Surdell’s made for an interesting interview on Shawn’s podcast last season. Great to see them moving up!

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing