Jon McKennedy Reconnects With Art Barry Team For Stafford Open Modified 80’s

(Press release from Stafford Speedway)

Jon McKennedy (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

When Stafford Speedway drops the green flag on its 4 Open Modified 80 races during the 2020 season, race fanswill see a former partnership rekindled.  Jon McKennedy and Art Barry, who won the Modified Racing Series championship together in 2012, will reunite to make a run at the checkered flag in Stafford’s Open 80 events scheduled for May 8, June 12, July 10, and August 21 with the #21 SPAFCO Chassis Chevrolet.

“I ran for Art [Barry] back in 2012, we won a handful of races and the MRS championship together,” said McKennedy.  “The open shows at Stafford are something I’ve been looking at doing because I always enjoy coming to race at Stafford.  Art and I have stayed in contact over the years and we touched base over the holidays and thought it would be good to get back together and do some races together.  We had pretty good success back in the day and Art and all of his guys are great. He has good equipment so I’m hoping we can have some good runs.”

Having already worked alongside each other to win races and a championship, McKennedy is looking to pick up right where he left off with the Barry team and eliminate any new driver/team combination woes.

“Having worked together before, we should be able to get up to speed pretty quickly,” said McKennedy.  “Kenny Barry and I have always gotten along great and we’re usually on the same page with things and he always gives me a good car.  I don’t see why we can’t pick up right where we left off last time we were racing together.  We’d obviously like to win all 4 races but that’s unrealistic.  I certainly think we can contend for a win or two and we’ll see what happens.  Art’s car is definitely a good ride to be in.”

Stafford is known for being a track that is tough to conquer for any drivers who are new or lack experience at the Connecticut half-mile.  McKennedy struggled at Stafford early in his career, but teaming up with the Barry team turned McKennedy’s Stafford fortunes around and he enters the 2020 season with 2 MRS wins and 2 MTS wins at Stafford in limited experience. 

“Going back 10 years ago or so, Stafford one was one of my worst tracks to go to,” said McKennedy.  “When I started racing for Art in 2012, Kenny Barry gave me some pointers on how to drive the track and ever since then it’s been a night and day difference.  Our first race together at Stafford we won and I remember it was a good race with Ted Christopher to get that win.  Ever since then Stafford has been a great track for me and I think I’ve won 4 or 5 races there.  It’s a neat, technical track and beautiful facility and the Arute’s and everyone involved with the speedway do a great job.”

In order for McKennedy to replicate his winning ways with the Barry team at Stafford, he knows he will face some stiff competition from all different forms of modified racing.

“If there’s 25 cars for these races, there’s probably about 10 or 12 of those cars that can win on any given night at Stafford,” said McKennedy.  “There’s certainly a lot of good drivers with a lot of experience and to win at Stafford you need to have the whole package with a good car, good strategy, and some luck.  It’s nice to come into Stafford with some experience and feeling confident that I know the track.  I’m looking forward to the open shows with a variety or drivers coming from all different series with different car and engine combinations, which should make for some exciting races.”

Registration for the four Stafford Open Mod 80 shows is open and teams can register online at  The registration fees are currently discounted to $85 per race or $250 for all four races.  The registration fee increases on March 1 to $100 per event and $350 for all four events.  Beginning Monday, May 11, the discount for registering a car for all four Open 80’s ends and the price goes up to $125 per event.  

For more information, visit, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

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  1. This should be a contending team for sure! Could there maybe be any TriTrack races added? Maybe the Open Modified race at NHMS? Glad to hear he’s running Modifieds again!

  2. McKennedy in Art Barry’s 21, a potent combination. Art always fields fast cars, and with McKennedy’s talent, wouldn’t be surprised to see him in victory lane. Best of luck to them as well as all the open modified competitors.

  3. Great stuff, the legendary Art Barry 21 with Jon McKennedy behind the wheel should make some noise at Stafford in 2020. Go get-em Art and Jon!

  4. Andy Jankowiak has teased us before with a registration then a no show but he is on the list and that’s good news. Dowling in the Paige 00…check. Tommy Baldwin’s famed 7NY returning with Mike Christopher as the pilot for the second year. Former winner Tommy Barrett….check. NWMT regulars Goodale and Lutz.. Zachem and Etheridge…….check. Stafford regulars……check. Barry/McKennedy as well. All this history and the top 5 finishers from the Haunted Hundred. Registrations don’t always make it past the back gate but not a bad start at all.

  5. These open modified shows are on pace to rival a tour race

  6. This is great news.

  7. Didn’t they team up a couple years ago w an SK? Thought they lasted about 5 weeks???

  8. Whoa modfan. Let’s see if they consistently get 20 plus cars before we start comparing them to other events. Everyone and their brother is always entered in February. We shall see this summer if the rubber meets the road. Given my self imposed ban of Thompson Speedway I’m hoping to catch a couple of these open shows. I’m also hoping to not be disappointed.

  9. I believe it was the combo of Art/Justin Bonsignore that ran a handful of SK races together at Stafford

  10. No Steve, that was Justin B and they ran the entire season.

  11. So Doug, what makes you believe that the Barry/McKennedy combo won’t make it past the back gate?

  12. That was Justin Bosingnore who ran the 21 SK for Art Barry for at Stafford.

  13. I get it Earl. You saw the name Doug, looked down at your danglers and they told you Doug is trashing Art Barry. Saying he may not show up.
    Those that are not lead around by their danglers understood the reality that registrations do no equal race participants More registrants being better but not any guarantee they will show up at the back gate. The Barry/Mckennedy registration never singled out in word or implication.
    Mamma told me that when someone invites you to a dinner you should bring more then an appetite and sour attitude. Mr. Courchesnes invites us to his home every day at no cost to us so here is my contribution.
    This thread is about Art Barry and a few kernels of his history may be in order.

    Began racing career at 16 in 1952 at the Speedbowl.

    2008 New York State Stock Car Racing Association’s Hall of Fame
    2009 New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame

    George Summers who drove and won many races in a Barry car wins his last race at Thompson 1983 driving for Barry. It used to be on Youtube and perhaps still is.

    Bobby Santos, Brett Bodine, Greg Sacks, Mike McLaughlin, Jeff and Rick Fuller, Jerry Marquis, Mike Stefanik, Mike Ewanitsko, Richard Savary plus many many more including McKennedy drove for Barry.

    Started SPAFCO Race Chassis in 1998. Not the sexy chassis builder currently but one with numerous championships and still a full shop of work and a major parts supplier.

    2001 and 2002 NWMT titles with Mike Stefanik.

    2012 Barry/McKennedy wins VMRS championship
    2014 Barry/Bonsignor win VMRS championship

    Would it be creepy to just stand in the pits watching Barry just to know you’re seeing the guy that has participated in local racing almost from the very start and won? I may. You could split his career among 3 different people and have 3 outstanding careers. Fielding a car at the age of 84. It’s an honor just to have the guy there. With an accomplished, pure driver like McKennedy the fit is perfect.
    Next up, Stafford Opens vs TTOMS. Which is the better value? Here’s a hint. They both are the best value to whomever attends them.

  14. Rubber Meets The Road says

    JD “Whoa modfan. Let’s see if they consistently get 20 plus cars before we start comparing them to other events.”

    What do you count as consistency?
    May 24th – 21 cars
    June 14th – 23 cars
    July 12th – 30 cars ( 4 did not qualify for the race)
    June 8th – 21 cars
    July 13th – 20 cars

    You’re right that’s not to consistent. With the last race in 2019 sending 4 cars home, you better bring your A game or you might not even make the race.

  15. You made my point. Four out of five events did NOT get a full field and barely hit 20-21 cars. Those aren’t good numbers. Sure not tour like which I was originally referring to. Not sure why you think they are. I’ll refer to Doug to fact check those numbers. I seem to recall a night last year where Stafford, MRS and ROC all had a really bad turnout with under 20 cars on the same night. Could have been 2018. I don’t have the energy or motivation to go back to look.

  16. I can see the fun in bragging a little bit about what you support, that’s simply being a good fan. In reality there is no comparison in the opens because they are different products. Even the TTOMS events are different products. Open Wheeled Wednesday will have 350 Supers and Nema Lights. Haunted Hundred a big Pass event and LM’s. Monadnock will have there regular divisions. Claremont adds a Pro Truck challenge race and several of their lower divisions. At Star it’s pretty much the TTOMS race and a few lower divisions. Most all the tracks charge $30.
    Staffords opens are also priced at $30. However unlike most TTOMS events with the exception perhaps of Monadnock the Stafford opens start with the full regular division lineup. No heats but 5 divisions racing for points in feature events. The open is to spice it up and draw more people, get a higher gate and it does all that and more. They could have 18 cars and it would still be a great show. Add the TC13 and that spices it up even more.
    Are modifieds your priority? No open show has more. Moreover in the SK’s and Lights the features in all likelihood will be loaded and exciting right down to the last lap.
    May 24th – 21 cars plus 51 SK’s and Lights
    June 14th – 23 cars plus 52 SK’s and Lights
    July 12th – 30 cars ( 4 did not qualify for the race)
    2018 Plus 51 SK’s and Lights
    June 8th – 21 cars plus 53 SK’s and Lights
    July 13th – 20 cars plus 49 SK’s and Lights

    The best open feature between Stafford and TTOMS is TTOMS…..always. The best open show top to bottom…..doesn’t exist. They’re all good. They all are unique and all draw fans looking for different things besides the tour modified feature event. We have our travelers in this forum that range far and wide for TTOMS but the events are local with success dependent of drawing local fans just like Stafford.
    If the Stafford faithful want to crow a little bit it’s understandable. The Stafford opens got mocked relentlessly when they were announced from the rules to all the MRS light taunts. A lot of those that mocked the events now go to them and think they’re actually pretty good.

  17. For the streamers out there you may find this interesting.
    I’ve been talking to Speed51 about their TTOMS streaming events and this is what they said.
    Unlike NBC Sports Gold that requires 5 Mbps they recommend 15 Mbps as a minimum speed to stream the races although they said the 10 I have may do the job with some buffering issues. They said try it using the monthly charge option and if it fails contact them and they would refund the charge which I thought was mighty nice of them. The two Seekonk events have a 90 mile blackout. The rest there are no blackouts announced yet but that can change and they would announce them the month of the race. Blackouts are a track decision.. The cost is not as good a value as NBC Sports Gold but it’s still a good value.
    The contact which was Patrick Hahe was very responsive and accommodating. He stressed that even for blacked out events “you will still have access to video highlights after the event”..

  18. For those a little critical of the Stafford Open events, keep in mind the next Open event will only be #6. Any new events take a little time to develop. The first SBM125 had I think 19 cars. Now they get almost 40. With 20-21 cars in Stafford’s first 3, 23 in #4, and 30 in #5, they are gaining ground with entries. Hopefully the purse will eventually increase to entice more. If anyone is going to split hairs between 21 cars and 26 cars in a starting line-up, that’s your choice. More is better, however I’ve been to all of these events and seen three good full or almost full field Modified races each night for $30. A couple of them even had consi’s for the SK Lights. Where else can you go and see 70-80 pavement Modifieds in one night? Case in point: I passed on an MRS race at Lee a couple of times to go to Stafford. My travel time on summer Friday afternoon is 1.5 hrs. vs. 2.5 hrs. The difference? 20-25 Modifieds vs. 70+. For me, it was well worth fighting the additional traffic to go to Stafford!!

  19. Williams driving the Williams/Skowrya 50 and Casella’s super awesome 25 driven by Swanson now registered. Still early and over 20 cars signed up. Tony Membrino is in as well. I guess it’s nice to see purses rise but don’t see a reason why with the registrations being what they have been.
    Most agree the SK Light purse is an embarrassment considering the value they provide to the program’s entertainment in terms of competition. Yet the roster is bulging and rookies abound. Just saw Jon Puleo’s shop and multi car “fleet” on Facebook. The resources some teams are throwing at their effort appears to have no relationship to purses.

  20. For only having 5 open shows to date, I’d say they’re doing pretty well. If they can manage to make the purse larger, I think they’ll do even better. Looking forward to the open shows this year, good racing. Just my opinion.

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