Landscape Of Connecticut Short Track Racing In 2020 Unclear Due To COVID-19 Regulations

Whelen Modified Tour driver Dave Sapienza participated in a private test session earlier this week at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Courtesy TFR Distribution)

Stafford community message boards on Facebook perked to life Wednesday with questions from town residents about a familiar sound echoing through the area. 

Stafford Motor Speedway hosted a private test session for some Whelen Modified Tour teams on Wednesday and the sound of high horsepower motors reverberating outward across the local area had townspeople delighted to hear a little bit of normal returning. 

Government restrictions due to the COVID-19 global pandemic shut down short tracks in Connecticut in mid-March. Thompson Speedway had been scheduled to kick off the short track racing season in Connecticut in early April. Stafford Speedway was supposed to open in late April. Management at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl – which was closed for the 2019 season – had been taking steps to complete construction at the track and had expressed hope of bringing competition back in 2020. 

Stafford Speedway got approval from state and local officials recently to host private test sessions at the track and held the first open session last Saturday. 

Stafford management is optimistic that the allowance for private sessions is the first step in the right direction toward a return to regulation competition with fans at some point 

At Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park the plans moving forward are less clear. The road course at the facility has already returned to operation with club days. The SCCA will host its regular Track Night In America program at the facility June 2, under strict guidelines. 

But unclear are any plans for the historic .625-mile oval. 

The last public announcement by track management concerning anything to do with the oval came through a posting on the track website on April 28 which read: “Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is aware of Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont’s Executive Order 7X which extends all current prohibitions on business activities through May 20. We will continue to abide by the directives of our local government and health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic and will have to further adjust our 2020 season schedule accordingly. The safety of our race teams, fans and staff remains paramount. We will have further updates once available. Updates will come from our social media channels, and website,” 

Repeated attempts to reach Thompson Speedway CEO Jonathan Hoenig since May 22 have been unsuccessful. There is no indication that any private testing is being scheduled for the oval at Thompson.

The original NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule had six of 17 events being run in Connecticut with three each scheduled at Thompson and Stafford. 

Thompson’s Whelen Modified Tour Liquid Death Icebreaker 150 was originally scheduled for April 5, postponed to May 16 and then postponed indefinitely. The track is also scheduled to host the Whelen Modified Tour on Aug. 19 and for the division’s season finale on Oct. 11 as part of the Sunoco World Series weekend. 

The NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 was originally slated for April 26, was postponed to May 31 and now remains postponed indefinitely. Stafford is also scheduled to host the Whelen Modified Tour on Aug. 7 and again on Sept. 27 as part of their NAPA Fall Final weekend. 

Current state restrictions don’t allow for crowd gatherings that could facilitate tracks hosting events with fans. State officials have given little indication of when restrictions on crowd gatherings could be eased to the point of allowing events with fans. Should tracks be allowed to open with fans in state this season, restrictions on capacity levels could make hosting high purse Whelen Modified Tour events unfeasible for track operators. 

Before COVID-19 shutdowns went into place, management at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl had expressed optimism that they would be able to reopen in 2020 after being closed for the entirety of the 2019 season. It’s now unclear if that optimism remains. 

Two new grandstand structures were constructed last month, but according to sources close to the track, further work to complete planned construction projects to facilitate reopening of the track have been put on hold. Track general manager Mike Serluca was put on furlough by ownership in April. Serluca said to his knowledge there is no plans for the track to open even for private testing at anytime soon. 


  1. crazy larry says

    The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Connecticut since the pandemic began has reached 41,762 — 203 more than Thursday.

    The total number of deaths has reached 3,868 — 75% Of death occurring convalescent homes OPEN THE TRACKS THAT’S ONLY 100 PEOPLE NO WORSE THAN THE FLU !!!

  2. Good summary. A related editorial released last night from a little further north in NE. Some pretty good observations by a writer that has been pro motorsports

  3. Speaking of landscape, garden centers have been JAMMING and the gardens and landscapes of New England never looked better.

  4. As always, it’s a dichotomy between the haves and the have nots. Those that have a 🧠, and those that do not have a 🧠.

  5. 20 deep at the garden center. A dramatic drop in mask wearing today. Both at the hardware and the grocery. I’d say 50% at most. Compared to about 85-90% a week ago. Funny how that works. The weather gets hot and the masks get put away.

  6. Really? How often has this happened… warm weather then masks get put away? List please. There are states with warm weather and are considered hot spots, and/or cases increasing, surely not clear of the pandemic.

    Masks are the norm here, even people in cars are wearing.

    About the only time I see people not wearing a mask 😷 are people jogging 🏃 🏃‍♀️ or bike 🚲 riding.

  7. solstaceson says

    I guess people jogging have to breathe, youre a genious dareal,

  8. It has nothing to do with the weather. It has everything to do with urgency.
    New Hampshire just is not getting the cases nor is it trending in a clearly unfavorable direction. The infections graph is more like saw teeth rising to over a 100 a day then dropping to 40 a couple days later. 260ish dead as of May 31 and projected to be almost nil by the end of July. The worst day in New Hampshire was May 7 with 22 dead. Most days 7 or under and some days none whereas in Ct we’re doing better and still have 35 to 50 deaths a day. Why would people that are not inclined to take precautions for the good of their community wear a mask when they are not feeling threatened. Team spirit?
    I don’t know about NY, Mass or the rest of Ct but I can tell you at the Enfield, Ct Home Depot there is very heavy traffic even on weekdays and you have to really hunt for someone not wearing a mask. Mainly because three suburban towns outside cities in Ct can have as many dead as all of New Hampshire and we’re reminded of it on our local news every night.
    Hopefully there will never come a time in New Hampshire when it gets so bad that people automatically bolt on a mask out of fear. But if it does then they’ll do exactly what we are doing. Mask shaming and we’re all in this together nonsense don’t work without a sense of urgency.

  9. Hey?

    Where’d all you victims go? ❄️ Oh dear, all you deprived people that aren’t allowed to go to a race track. ❄️ All you folks that think the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax, and a pure power play to suppress and oppress, and practice pure unconstrained tyranny. ❄️ Where are you? ❄️ Make your voice heard. ❄️ Let us know how not letting you go to the track is unConstitutional and mean. ❄️. Tell us how you feel. ❄️

    Anything else going on?

  10. This is why you diversify. Thompson enduring withering criticism from the circle track community for moving to road racing now may be better positioned to ride out the crises pun intended. No the circle track wasn’t resurfaced, a decision that is looking real good about now and the odds of any circle track capital spending going forward decreasing by the day. While other tracks are waiting Thompson with road racing, golf and eateries apparently has some revenue coming in.
    June 1. It’s crunch time for Stafford in 2020. What does late July and August look like using the old crystal ball. The good news plague wise is we’re in decline and projections for July and August are down right hopeful. The bad news is that the worst we experienced won’t be forgotten. Not even Governor Lamont knows what rules there will be in affect in August but it/s safe to say that a couple realities will exist no matter what the rules are. People will be wary and we geezers that comprise a large part of the fan base may actually by advised not to attend races. Bottom line, no matter what race event takes place and there should be something for sure in my view revenue will be sketchy even under the most ideal circumstances.
    I don’t know that it’s financially or logistically possible. The best guesses have been that it’s not. Things change however and I’m hoping that somehow Stafford, the track that has innovated with the Bottom Shot podcasts, that has nurtured Vault Productions The Show and that brought us the Stafford sim races will once again think outside the box and innovate. Find some way to put on a hybrid event, an Open Mod 80 would be my preference, that combines limits on attendance and rigorous safely guidelines with PPV.

  11. Frankly I feel safer going into Mohegan Sun than going into any of the box stores. Both casinos are over the top with precautions and are setting the example rather than being the example.

  12. Interesting to learn that Serluca has been furloughed. Does that “automatically” mean no racing at the Bowl in 2020?

  13. Rafter Fan,
    No it doesn’t mean anything is definitive one way or another. My understanding is that he was furloughed as long as state restrictions are in place that don’t allow for events to take place.

  14. Johnathan is the Corona virus at Thompson. That place was doomed the day he took over. Kid with no racing experience and no business experience to take over the most successful race venue in New England? Really?? So he borrows millions from the bank for the road course and can’t make the payment. Let’s blame it on Corona. Unfortunately that track will disappear and use this pandemic as the excuse. Now you all know the truth. I just hope Don and DR were smart enough to fill some coffee cans before that tool bag took over.

  15. Fast Eddie says

    Having first hand experience with the virus, there’s no way I would consider it to be less than what it is. I do have what I feel is a realistic opinion about the racing situation. The local Home Depot and Lowes are swarming with people. Almost everyone has masks, but there is not always “social distancing” taking place. If everyone is wearing a mask and the primary cause of infection is from your breath and/or saliva droplets, then the mask should be sufficient protection, along with the other hygiene protocol. So why can’t we go spectate at an OUTSIDE event with a mandatory mask and a temperature check on the way in? Yes the lines at concessions and rest rooms will be longer, but that would be distance-wise and not crowd-wise. A few strategically placed hand sanitizing stations could be put in place. A regular weekly event at a track won’t draw a huge crowd, but might be enough to allow the tracks to exist until things reach a better level of normalcy. I’d just hate to see any tracks go under because of this.

  16. Tony,

    Do you have an MBA? Have you ever left Thompson outside of visiting a champagne room? Maybe you should stop trying to be the Fake News of the Quiet Corner and focus on doing better than $7.25 an hour. If you want to find some achievement in life I can recommend you for a bar back job once the shutdown ends. All I’m saying is, I heard your father worked at the airport.

  17. Fast Eddie posted, “Having first hand experience with the virus, there’s no way I would consider it to be less than what it is.”

    Eddie, what does that mean?


    OUTSIDE is better than INSIDE with a number of people. But when you get the very large numbers of people that would be at a track, in the thousands, outdoors does not matter much.

    You need to understand that the world is social distancing. Cities are barren. What used to be areas that were persistently crowded have been and are now barren to prevent the spread of the pathogen. Eddie, you gotta look beyond your yard or home center and see what’s going on out in the rest of the world.

    There are MANY reports of people spreading and catching the infection at large OUTDOOR gatherings.

    Look at the recent Lake of the Ozarks partying. Some people were found to be infected and now everyone there, thousands of people, have been ordered to quarantine.

  18. I don’t know. I’d say a guy who actually dealt with the illness in his household, had to deal with the worry, a sick wife, dealing with the need to take care of his wife and still pay attention to all the precautions he had to take to keep himself healthy over a quarantine period should know exactly what he is talking about.

  19. Plugs 2020 says

    Social distancing is officially over. Has anyone been watching tv lately?

  20. If one person can spread the coronavirus at the Ozarks at a party what could happen at a race track with grandstands either full or partially for pets etc. if somebody sneezes in the air or coughs handshakes etc. this is not a good scenario for racing

  21. Social distancing is NOT officially over.

    I have been watching TV.

    There are plenty of stupid people.

  22. Just consider what happens in the stands. The stench from the cigarettes and cigars travels far and wide. That also means that the air people exhale travels far and wide, blanketing all the people in its path. That air carries the pathogen 🦠 from infected people. It goes back to crowd size and density. People are clearly not responsible enough to social distance, that has been shown over and over.

  23. Shawn
    I think you should rename the site Coviddayct

  24. Plugs 2020 says

    Ok, then how about this. Social distancing is officially over in Democrat run cities. And then there’s this. “The operations of some county covid 19 testing sites are impacted due to the current state of emergency in LA county and some locations have been closed. Wonderful

  25. Hopefully stage 4 reopening dates don’t get postponed. I think if the tracks are allowed to open at 50% capacity, Stafford and Thompson might be able to race. I’d be willing to say if it does happen it will be with allot of restrictions. Most likely teams will be limited to X amount of people per car, no spectators in pits ECT. But Stafford has allot of cars show up each week, so don’t know how they would go about it. For the Tour shows they’d have to figure out how to limit ticket sales to meet attendance restrictions. With the reduced attendance, don’t be surprised if all the races were limited in ticket sales, and that ticket prices may rise. It all hinges on how the virus acts, so keep doing whatever it takes to keep those numbers declining. We May see racing this year, but don’t expect things to be the same.

  26. Fast Eddie says

    Dareal, Doug’s comment about me is accurate (Thanks Doug!) My wife had the virus, fortunately a minor dose of it that did not get worse during the quarantine period. However, I spent two weeks hopingand praying her condition wouldn’t worsen and worrying about me getting sick while trying to take care her and my Dad who lives nearby with pre-existing medical problems. I would not wish or want to give those conditions to anyone!
    There allegedly is no smoking in the grandstands. If EVERYONE wears a mask and they keep at least some distance from each other and periodically sanitize, I think local tracks could run weekly racing events with no touring series. Even to run every other week would possibly give them some income to help keep them afloat until it’s safe enough for the larger crowds that touring series and special events would bring. I’ve been in and out of the grocery and hardware stores multiple times without issues. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work at the track. Tracks could rotate their categories to allow for pit spacing, or run some classes in the morning, have them leave, then run the others in the afternoon. I think racetracks and racers can make something work if they are given a chance to by the government.

  27. Well, Plugs, there wouldn’t be a state of emergency 🚨 in LA county if George Floyd’s life was not terminated by a police officer in Minneapolis. Police are getting away with it. There’s too much of that going on and people are getting fed up with it. Doesn’t make the rioting right, but when people have no other choice, no recourse, desperate times call for desperate measures. Since you are watching TV, you probably see the police are not doing a good job, they are getting caught on camera while being big jerks. And to think that a few years ago the police claimed that recording police was illegal and a threat to their safety. A couple Supreme Court decisions cleared that up. It is indeed legal to record police, after all, it’s your tax dollars at work. This might be the point where the police realize they need to police their own, instead of joining in solidarity to defend bad cops. Just one rogue cop makes all of them look bad.

  28. Eddie, I don’t read Doug’s 🤮. Until this one since you mentioned it. Eddie, just because you had COVID-19 close to home does not mean you now know what it takes to open a large venue with thousands of people. And just because Doug says you must be right does not make you right. Doug has no clue what he’s talking about.

    Eddie, there’s plenty of smoking in the grandstands. Plenty. Just because you say there’s no smoking in the grandstands does not mean it does not happen. It does. And the discussion is not about if smoking is allowed or not, but I brought it up as an example of how the stench travels, just as the virus would.

  29. Ct numbers continue to go in a favorable direction and as of yesterday hospitalizations are at 23% of what they were at the peak. Even the US weekly averages are going down. The troubling current events as well as the Ace Speedways of the country may put a dent in that but for now the trend is favorable.
    I was especially glad to read Eddie’s suggestions considering his experience and agree basically with everything he said. I feel comfortable in places where people are wearing masks which is basically everywhere I have been. Why wouldn’t it work at the track?
    Unless there is some incredible reversal in the Northeast the virus will be a shadow of what it was at the peak in a month or or two and the perspective will be entirely different. What seemed impossible weeks ago will seem very doable.
    Eddie’s view of what could be is not some wild imagining of an ignorant optimist. It’s the informed view that seems not only possible but likely in my view.

  30. CT Tracks will be after Phase 4, CT is preparing already now for no schools in Sept and more Distance learning at the Grade School Level. Unemployment rates in the state are not dropping, and death count has not slowed down that much and remains one of the highest per population. Only thing dropping is hospitalizations which I don’t think is a fair representation, the death count is affecting the hospitalization count, today we had 500 new cases, and at anytime those 500 can be admitted to the hospital, and the same with tomorrows 500 new cases.

  31. Don’t be crybabies all you folks who miss racing, Think of others besides yourself. If you miss the excitement of racing do something worthwile in the meantime….the Trump haters are engaging in all kinds of exciting activities, like shutting down highways, throwing molotov cocktails at police cars, spitting at police officers, burning churches and looting stores. Join the fun and excitement and send a strong message to Trump at the same time!!!!

  32. Fast Eddie says

    Dareal, you’re right. I don’t know how to run a race track. But i have been unintentionally in the midst of groups of people with masks and have had no problems with getting sick. If it works in home depot and stop & shop there are at least possibilities it could work outside at a racetrack. I’m not going to be hugging and handshaking, and i think my n95 mask will work fine for anything in the air. If people use their head for more than holding their hat, i think it would work. Just my opinion…

  33. Not convinced huh. I’ve kept a daily log of all the Ct data since 4/20 as well as a few individual towns.
    Average deaths per day in one week blocks in Connecticut with dates inclusive. 4/21-4/27-95, 4/28-5/4–80, 5/5-5/11–64, 5/12-5/18-63. 5/19-5/25-42, 5/2-6/1- 32. Infections are going down as well although a bit less evenly most likely due to testing that has doubled from roughly 2200 per day in April to 5 thousand plus now.
    Nothing is perfect but the most accurate gauges are hospitalizations and deaths and they clearly are showing a favorable trend. I don’t know if it will continue in the future but I know it’s a fact now and clearly why the economy in Ct is opening back up.
    Nationally the average daily deaths were around 2400 in mid April at the peak and are now in the 1000 range.

    I don’t know if the trends will continue but I know that based on the data up to this point they are trending favorably. If you want to believe they are fake or illegitimate in any way you are of course welcome to do so.

  34. Doug,

    I hear what you are saying but yesterday hospitilzations went down by 27 and 20 of those were deaths, which means only 7 people walked out of hospitals.

  35. 5/2-6/1- 32………should be……. 5/26-6/1-32

  36. Draw your own conclusions Rich. If you want to take numbers in isolation and draw the most unfavorable conclusion you’re welcome to. I read what you said, respected it and tried to show I just didn’t pull my observation out of my ass based of pure optimism. The trend is as I stated as of 6/1. The projections say it will continue. Whether it does we’ll see.

  37. “Doesn’t make the rioting right, but when people have no other choice, no recourse, desperate times call for desperate measures”. What kind of demented BS reasoning is that?

    Just so I understand, you believe this statement gives individuals permission to riot, loot, burn and steal other innocent individuals property? Lives matter? How about the lives of the individuals who own these businesses? It’s OK to destroy their dreams, their livelihood, everything they have worked all their lives for just because you are pissed off? These punks and thugs, no matter their ethnic background that are committing these crimes are nothing but opportunists that are joining in with the crowd. And I suppose you believe they shouldn’t be punished? They shouldn’t be held responsible and accountable for their actions just like anyone else?

  38. Earl, you are clearly an idiot. What part of “Doesn’t make the rioting right” do you not understand????

    How stupid are you? Clearly you can not and do not understand.

    You even cut and pasted it. Do you have any comprehension at all? ANY? You proved conclusively and irrefutably that you are an idiot.

    Earl, let me be the first to tell you that this great country was born from revolution. Violent, deadly revolution. Due to suppression and oppression. At times, it may be necessary.

    Earl, I’m going to guess that you have rarely met black people, and you see more black people and people of color on TV than you do in real life. That’s part of your deficiency and why you can’t get near understanding what’s going on. And your get your window on the world from Fox.

    But Earl, you were probably all upset and riled up that people couldn’t open the hair and manicure salons. That was incredible tyranny, right?

    The protesters are not the looters. The looters are opportunists. There have been many totally peaceful protests.

    Trump and his administration are depraved and diabolical racists, and to be specific due to your incredibly poor comprehension, white supremacists.

    Earl, the police have special protections that make it difficult to impossible to try and convict. And add in the systemic racism, that is supported by and protected by power, it is very difficult to successfully prosecute corruption that includes racism. A bill has been recently introduced to strip that protection. Even when police are convicted, they get very light sentences. A regular person would get decades for murder3 or manslaughter, a cop gets a year or two.

  39. Earl goodfella is the typical L that resorts to name calling to make his point and violence he has CNN in his ear at night when he sleeps he even thinks that in DC the other night they used tear gas the other night when not one police Officer was wearing a gas mask because it was smoke canisters

  40. Smoke canisters vs tear gas. Well, the CDC confirmed tear gas was used. So why weren’t the LEO wearing proper masks? And why would either tear gas or smoke canisters be used? Oh yeah, to clear the crowd for that depraved, diabolical photo op. Even the White House Staff and Cabinet members had no idea what was going on. The Sec. of Defense thought he was being brought along to talk with the various law enforcement agents in the field, and it was NOTHING BUT A PHOTO OP. It was turned into an ad almost immediately after it was over.

  41. Trust me I know racer and I really don’t care. He is the epidemy of perfection, just ask him and he will tell you. He is the proverbial school yard bully of this site, probably because he was the kid that everyone picked on when he was in school so now he is taking the opportunity to unleash his many years of frustration. Easy to do when you hide behind the keyboard rather that standing face to face and hurl insults.

  42. WeldingWonders says

    “Well, I hate to say it again, but I WAS RIGHT!!!!! I’M RIGHT AGAIN!!!!!”



    😷😷😷 darealgoodfella 😷😷😷 says
    June 1, 2020 at 5:07 pm
    Eddie, I don’t read Doug’s 🤮. Until this one since you mentioned it.


    😷😷😷 darealgoodfella 😷😷😷 says
    June 3, 2020 at 9:54 am
    Looks like Doug with his alter egos and personalities are complaining, so don’t be concerned. He complains about everything.

  43. WeldingWonders says

    “Well, I hate to say it again, but I WAS RIGHT!!!!! I’M RIGHT AGAIN!!!!!”



    ” darealgoodfella says
    March 9, 2020 at 7:49 pm
    I’m going to Thompson. Can’t wait. ”


    March 16, 2020 at 9:12 am
    Since this virus first showed up on USA soil (January 21, 2020), we minimized exposure to the public. We didn’t wait. No movies, restaurants, changed errands to times when stores were usually less occupied, etc. (EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF THOMPSON SPEEDWAY) We started social distancing a long time ago, before it was even announced. (EXCEPT AT THOMPSON SPEEDWAY) When the first cases showed up in WA, it was only a matter of time before it spread, and in a week, almost every state had cases. That’s fast.


    ” darealgoodfella says
    March 20, 2020 at 5:38 pm
    Authorities are expecting around 50-80% infection rates. That means out of 100 people, 50-80 are going to get infected.
    The mortality rate appears to be around 4%. That’s about 40x higher than the seasonal flu. It also depends on hygiene, age, general health, etc.
    So the USA has a population of 330 million, half of that is 165 million. Then 4% of that is 6.6 million. We are looking at millions of people dying. ”


  44. Just a fan says

    Dareal sounds like an idiot

  45. The people protesting the wrongful deaths of black people, have been protesting peacefully. Its the radical groups who come out after dark, who are doing the looting, and causing destruction. They’re the ones hiding in a crowd throwing bricks at cops. They are opportunists, who seek out protests, with absolutely no interest in what the protest is about, only that it provides cover and distraction, for their chaotic behavior.

  46. President Trump today said that his trip to the secure bunker beneath the white house was not due to the protests, but rather just to inspect the bunker.
    Come on, the guy can’t even tell a good lie
    He says he knew nothing about police teargassing protests in front of the white house, as well as his much publicized photo op in front of the church.
    This guy must think we’re all stupid.

  47. Well unfortunately all the protesters are now going to die from coronavirus. Even darealgoodfella called them stupid for not obeying the social distancing laws and not caring who else they were going to infect. Now they will carry the virus back to their families and many of them will be added to the Covid-19 death totals. If only they had listened to dareal. Daily he shares his knowlege of the coronavirus with us (and doesn’t even charge us for the information). When the protesters start dying don’t feel bad dareal, you did all you could, the protesters were just too stupid to take your advice. Thankfully the people of this forum have heeded dareal’s advice, our still being alive is proof positive of that. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts dareal.

  48. Rob p. posted, “This guy must think we’re all stupid.”

    Not all, but enough for him to get away with his diabolical evil.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing