Going Green: Stafford Speedway Announces Tentative Reopening Date

Stafford Motor Speedway management announced Saturday through Facebook that the track has tentatively scheduled its first Friday night racing event of the season for June 26. 

It was also announced that the track would hold an open practice on Saturday June 20. 

The post on Facebook read:

“We’ll kick off our 2020 season with an open practice Saturday, June 20th. Stafford Speedway tech staff will be on hand to complete the mandatory safety inspection for Stafford race cars. All race teams that are scheduled to compete at Stafford Speedway in 2020 are welcome to attend. Practice schedule and safe opening guidelines will be released Monday morning.

“At this time we are tentatively scheduled for opening night Friday, June 26th. Full details will be released next week. Thank you for sticking with us! We’re excited to get back to racing.”

New state guidance released earlier this week in regard to reopening plans due to the COVID-19 global pandemic shutdown opened the door for outdoor events to take place.  

Under new state guidelines the state will allow outdoor events to take place on June 17. Stafford Motor Speedway has been unable to host racing events because of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Under the new guidance for outdoor activities, those operating professional sporting venues must get approval from the Connecticut Department of Economic Community Development. Stafford Speedway chief operating officer Paul Arute said earlier this week that the track had submitted their plan for reopening in late May. 

The new state guidance calls for outdoor event businesses to limit capacity to 50 percent. Stafford Speedway has a capacity of 10,000. Arute said earlier this week that the track’s plan submitted to the state requested a capacity lower than 50 percent but he said of the 50 percent number: “That would be much better.” 

State guidance on outdoor event reopening reads:

“As Connecticut enters Phase II, the state wants to enable its citizens to enjoy quality time outdoors. Such activities must be undertaken only after prioritizing the health and safety of attendees and employees. It is the cumulative effects gained from social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing that will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please keep that in mind as you plan and execute your event.

“Large gatherings and community events bring people from multiple communities into close contact with each other and have the potential to increase COVID-19 transmission. The goals of these rules are to protect people attending and working at the event, and the local community from COVID-19 infection.

Note that event organizers still need to obtain any permits or licenses and adhere to municipal or state guidelines that would otherwise be required in addition to complying with these rules.”

The state guidance on personal protection at outdoor events reads: “All event attendees including employees, volunteers and officials shall wear a surgical style mask or other face covering (e.g. cloth mask) that completely covers the nose and mouth within 6 ft of those not in the same household, unless doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety due to medical conditions, and except when eating.” 

Arute said earlier this week that track’s reopening plan calls for their season to be extended with events through late October. The track typically run its final racing events in late September or early October.

The track was originally scheduled to open with the NAPA Spring Sizzler weekend April 25-26. The season was original scheduled to end Sept. 26-27 with the NAPA Fall Final. Thus far because of the state shutdown the track has lost it’s NAPA Spring Sizzler weekend and seven Friday night events.

Arute said track management is committed to giving its season pass holders as close to a full season of racing events as possible. 

“If we were to start in the beginning of July and go to the end of October we can get in 20 shows,” Arute said. “Season pass holders are one of our most important customers and we’re going to try our best to give them the maximum value on their investment. We’re going to do our best to get as many events as we can in. And if we don’t get enough in we’ll look at some sort of credit for next season. But we’re still optimistic we’ll still be able to get a full season in.” 

Arute said earlier this week that he could not comment on if the track would be able to host NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events under a limited capacity structure this season. The Whelen Modified Tour is scheduled to run three events at Stafford Speedway this year. 

It’s unclear what plans are for the state’s other two short tracks this season.

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park was scheduled to run a six-event schedule on its oval track this season. The road course at the facility has reopened for private events but the track has offered no communications on plans for the oval for 2020. 

The last public announcement by Thompson Speedway 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, thompsonspeedway.com.” 

Attempts to reach Thompson Speedway CEO Jonathan Hoenig since May 22 have been unsuccessful. There is no indication that any private testing has been scheduled for the oval at Thompson. Thompson Speedway was scheduled to host the Whelen Modified Tour three times in 2020. 

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 in April, 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 recently that to his knowledge there is no plans for the track to open even for private testing at anytime soon.


  1. Awesome news

  2. wmass01013 says


  3. Sharpie Fan says

    Ready or not here we come! 🏁👍😃

  4. Anarchy 2020 says

    Was dafella notified? Or is he in his basement praying nobody attends.

  5. If anyone had said there would be racing in Ct on April 26 as the plague was peaking they would have been laughed at. And here we are. It’s just an amazing turn around.

  6. I think the Open 80s will be a bigger draw given the limited tour racing thus far.

  7. So happy to hear!

    Hopefully, all will respect the work the Arutes have done and follow the state mandated precautions so we can continue all season. Let’s do our part, not screw this up, and have a great season!

  8. Great news for the racers and fans. I’ve got a few questions, but will wait till the next announcement, where they will most likely be addressed.
    Unfortunately I still won’t attend. My wife has COPD, and it’s just not worth the risk for me. But I truly hope that the events go on without complications, and everybody has a great time, and remains healthy
    Running through October seems like a good plan, and I truly hope they do manage to accomplish that. But we’ve all seen the rising numbers, and “experts” are predicting a resurgence in the fall, so enjoy it while you can. Stay safe, strong and sane. Keep up doing the right things, and if you have to ask, it’s already too late.

  9. What Barry said. We are here, able to go racing with *some* fans because of what WE did. We social distanced, wore masks, washed our hands, etc. Okay, there were some schmucks that didn’t, but we took care of them for they were too stupid to take care of themselves.

    It’s up to you. Nothing like this was expected back in March/Apr when this was raging. But the behavior of the PEOPLE was far better than expected… thank goodness. 😅 The behavior of the people is really the only thing going to stave off a recurrence or second wave.

    Wearing a mask is smart. Who doesn’t want to look smart? Besides Homer, Mike H, Anarchy 2020 and knuckles.

    Just look at the curves, we have done a great job. The cooperation between Lamont and Cuomo was crucial.

    Let’s not screw this up. CT has done a great job abating the pandemic, but we are not all clear. We still have to be very careful.

  10. Watching Mahoning Valley Speedway now. Speed51 definition in terrible. Buffering, blurry, not recommended. NSN way better. Track is great. Hossfeld disappointing and Hirschman predictably very strong even on the outside. Seems to be some kind of effort to minimally space the crowd but the stands are packed.” Will the person with the blue Chevy Avalanche please move your vehicle because it’s blocking other cars.” That’s been going on for an hour and is not a good indication of any kind of control.
    Good luck Barry. This old man is buying a ticket on line out of respect for my favorite track but will wait to see how everything shakes out.
    One section of the stands, masks mandatory, no exceptions Stafford. Consider it.

  11. Agreed. People need to be respectful wear the masks when away from where you are sitting and stay 6 feet apart. Outside is safest. It’s up to fans to keep common sense so we can have a season.

  12. Gets pretty cold at night there in October…..do like to big boys are dong… race on a Tuesday or Wednesday
    and Friday to catch up on missed races.

  13. There is a racing God.

  14. My guess is they will go to Sunday’s in October. We’ve run a few World Series and Fall Finals in Nov before. If not, some of you will just have to man up. I’m not going to complain about a little cold after the year we have been having.

  15. knuckles mahoney says

    Dareal. I don’t have to look smart, I am smart. Easily the smartest dude I know. Make most people look like total idiots. Oh wait, that’s your thinking. Forget it, i’m dumb, but silly rich. Oh well. Let’s go racing. I need to smell mod exhaust to kill a few more brain cells.

  16. With Waterford and Thompson doing nothing, Stafford needs to move to Saturday Nights. With people losing jobs and going back to work fridays will be hard on some crews and fans to make.

  17. “Good luck Barry. This old man is buying a ticket on line out of respect for my favorite track but will wait to see how everything shakes out.”

    Thanks! I can respect that thought, I’m sure many others will do the same. If I see a lot of ignoring the rules, I’ll be joining you in no time.

    I’m super careful, with a great selection of masks, natural avoidance of crowds, and I’m a bit of a germophobe naturally. I’ve spent the last few months compiling and tracking COVID-19 recommendations for distribution to 80,000+ coworkers. The team I hang out with includes a biologist and folks with medical professional families.

    We’ll be the guys pitting out near the river, and I’ll be the guy only waving to Shawn through the glass and running to my camper to pee. ;^)

  18. Stafford opening is in itself great but for me it also represents all the folks in Ct and neighboring Mass doing what has to be done in a difficult situation. Opening is not some random accident of good fortune.
    Mahoning to me was alarming. I’ll be interested to see if the Stafford opening is different and disciplined or if it ends up trying to herd Constitution wielding cats throwing caution to the wind.. Is the lack of discipline at Ace and Mahoning a local statement or is it a trait of the racing community in general.
    I want to go to that Open 80 in the worst way. However if we racing fans are by nature meandering cats and Stafford can’t or won’t herd us I don’t think retreating deep down into the sparsely populated fourth turn bleachers is going to make any of we in the hard hit demographic feel any more secure.

  19. Rich’s idea to move Stafford to Saturday nights is awesome, even if just for this year. . For many people who work, Friday night is tough to get to a race on a regular basis. If Stafford ran on Saturdays, I for one, would be able to become a regular once I am comfortable that the worst of the pandemic has passed. I wont be there on the 26th and will wait until I see how Connecticut phase 2 reopening this week affects the positive direction the numbers have been showing. Saturday has been Waterford’s regular night. Even if they open this year it doesn’t sound like it will be anytime soon. Pure speculation here because I have no inside knowledge of what is going on at the Bowl. But the owner of the track, despite his other flaws, didn’t become a successful businessman by making bad business decisions. Sounds like he doesn’t want to or need to rush to finish the construction until the pandemic plays out. Unlike Thompson at least there is some PR coming out of Waterford, even if it is just fluff pieces to keep us interested I’m betting if they open at all this year it will be a few Sunday shows in the fall when other tracks aren’t running as a tune up for a full reopening in 2021 They may actually have to do something this year to keep all their permits and contracts grandfathered and active. Time will tell. .

  20. Fast Eddie says

    Ed P. I’ll definitely agree with Saturday at Stafford. If that was there regular deal I would absolutely be there more often. Leaving work early on Friday to go from the Boston area is not easy and under normal traffic conditions almost twice the amount of time to get there. The best race I went to at Stafford last year was the one-day Saturday version of the Spring Sizzler. It was great not to be hanging outside waiting to the gates to open, and have to listen to the cars running.

  21. Doug, good point. Stafford being able to reopen is due to the sacrifices made by the people in Connecticut and Massachusetts. It’s been a long few months. For all those who did the right things, THANK YOU, as you can see, your actions made a significant difference.
    I truly hope Stafford’s reopening goes off without a hitch. Wish I could attend, but with my wife’s health, and my dad’s as well, it’s just not worth the risk. Luckily this guy Shawn runs a great website called RacedayCT, so I’ll be able to get the highlights, and results. Hope everyone who attends has fun, because after all, ain’t that what it’s all about?
    Everybody stay safe strong and sane. Keep fighting the good fight. Boogity, boogity boogity, let’s go racing boys

  22. Anarchy 2020 says

    I think running Stafford on Saturdays until the bowl opens isn’t a great idea. One reason they don’t want or can’t have huge crowds right now. They get a decent crowd on Friday’s as it is. If they can spread the fans out in the stands, it will be a success.

  23. Sorry race fans the schedule has been printed.
    Stafford has been Friday at least since 1980. Vendors, employees, teams and their members plan for it.

  24. In ’76, ’77 and ’78 my uncle ran his modified there, it was Friday night. Used to run Stafford on Friday, Riverside Saturday and Thompson on Sunday. Those were the good ole days. He didn’t do well at Stafford and Thompson because he insisted on running a big block 433, but the car was a bear at Riverside the few times he ran there.

  25. Ole Timer Trivia:
    Who had the first Cavalier bodied modified?

  26. NASCAR has announced that the “AllStar” race will be held at Bristol. The race will be a one day stand alone event. Details of the format will be announced soon, but voting is open now. The best part; 30,000 fans will be allowed to attend. Of course Covid could change things, but this is a huge step in the right direction. Go vote.

  27. I’m with Doug. Stafford is sticking with Fridays thru Sept. That’s how it was sold to season ticket holders.

    Bristol will make for better All Star race.

  28. Bristol, TN is not as bad as North Carolina and South Carolina as far as COVID outbreaks are concerned.

    Just look at the DATA here:


    This might have had something to do with moving the race. 😬

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing