Time To Go: Stafford Speedway Ready To Open For Racing Next Week

Eric Berndt (54) and Keith Rocco (88) and the rest of the Stafford Speedway competitors will be back in action June 26 (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

Before the COVID-19 global pandemic put a stranglehold on live sports across the country, Stafford Motor Speedway management had been planning to be hosting the second day of the NAPA Spring Sizzler on April 26. 

Pandemic shutdown ended up taking a two month bite out of the Stafford Speedway schedule, but things will literally get back on track next week at the historic half-mile oval. 

The 2020 racing season at Stafford Speedway will kick off with spectators in the grandstands on Friday June 26. Stafford Speedway has received approval from the state to open at 25 percent capacity. The track holds 10,000.

“We’re pretty excited that the governor has let us open at 25 percent,” Stafford Speedway chief operating officer Paul Arute said. “It also appears as though they’ll increase that at some point in July to 50 percent. We’re just glad to be back open. We’re going to take all the proper precautions. We’ll have some more information about what that is going to look like probably by the end of the week or the beginning of next week. We’re back.” 

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

Under the new guidance for outdoor activities, those operating professional sporting venues were mandated to get approval from the Connecticut Department of Economic Community Development and the governor’s office. Stafford Speedway had submitted their original reopening plans in May. 

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 the track will pick up with its original schedule beginning with the event on June 26. He said the track is expecting to extend their season with events through late October. The track typically run its final racing events in late September or early October. Arute said they expect to announce the new modifications to the schedule after the June 26 event. Arute said he can’t comment at this point on whether or not the three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events on the schedule will be run this year. Limited capacity regulations could make those events economically unfeasible.

“We just don’t know what’s going on there yet with that,” Arute said.

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 and will lose another Friday night event this week.

The Whelen Modified Tour was scheduled to be a part of the track’s NAPA Spring Sizzler weekend and is also scheduled to be at the track Aug. 7 and on Sept. 27 as part of the NAPA Fall Final weekend.


  1. Is Stafford doing online ticket sales for individual events like Monadnock Speedway or is it first come first serve on race day?

    If Nascar can find a way to make it economically feasible for WMMP of all places than they can find a way to make it feasible for other tracks like Stafford.

  2. JD,
    I’m sure Stafford will be doing some type of online sales. I think right now they’re working out the details on everything and will likely have more announcements soon.

  3. Boogity boogity boogity let’s go racing boys!!!

  4. Advance tickets cost an extra $5. Not sure if u can get advanced tickets for the pits

  5. Do the race teams, track workers and officials count toward that 2500 person limit? Will teams be limited as to how many crew they can have? Will spectators be allowed in the paddock? Inquiring minds want to know.

  6. Rob P.
    Still waiting on all the details, but it is my understanding the 2500 limit is for sold grandstand admissions and does not include competitors, team members or employees. I can’t fairly answer the other questions right now.

  7. 25% sounds inordinately restrictive but it may not be that far off what the attendance typically is for a regular show.
    How about an ignorant fans guess at what the numbers could look like.

    -600 patrons in the paddock
    -1900 patrons in the spectator area
    -20% of the spectators are children
    -total purse with full fields is $21380
    -front gate ticket $20
    -back gate average is $30 accounting for all early discounted season passes

    If the weather is typically nice for June and they get 100% of the reduced capacity they may make out OK. I’m getting gate revenue in the $50,000 range. The full field purse is $21,000 and that’s high since all the fields are never full. Paying employees, sub contractors, supplies, vendors and insurance cuts into the 30Kish surplus but food, drink and program revenue mitigates those costs. Might even end up with a few bucks left over to set aside for property taxes.
    So there you have it. If any of this is remotely correct you’ve spent a mind boggling amount of time coordinating with the state on guidelines and approvals. Determining, setting up and paying for new protocols in addition to all the usual work necessary to start the season. By the end of the night under ideal conditions you’ll make very little, end up essentially working for free with virtually no hope of ending a Covid19 shortened season in the green.
    Tough way to make a living.

  8. 25% which could rise to a higher percentage down the road. I’d say regardless of the guidelines set, it would be in everybody’s best interest that fans wear masks, social distance and take advantage of any sanitizing stations provided, or bring sanitizer with you.
    I’m somewhat sure, but not positive, that if Covid cases tied to events at the track start to pop up, the state would most likely shut them back down. But by the same token,if no cases showed up, after a few weeks they may see a rise in the allowed capacity.
    Everyone, Fans, teams, workers ECT.. all control your own destiny. So keep up with social distancing, wear masks and wash your hands often. These steps will help assure racing continues. Act as if Covid doesn’t exist, and kiss live racing goodbye. The choice is yours, will you play nice, or ruin it for everyone.

  9. Ole Timer Trivia
    When Mike Stefanik first started in modified racing, what town did he list as his home town?

  10. Great job by Camerissa, who answered in another thread.
    The correct answer was Wilbraham MA

  11. Ole Timer Trivia
    How many races did Bob Polverari win in a modified at Stafford?

  12. Purchased my ticket last night, and am looking forward to 6/26. I was a bit surprised by the $5 “will call” charge, but I willingly paid it to support SMS.

  13. Phil A. Got the correct answer to the trivia
    Bob had only 1 victory at Stafford, the 1981 Spring Sizzler. Bob and Richie Evens battled wheel to wheel over the final laps, bouncing off each other several times on the last lap. Bob won by a little over a bumper.

  14. Anarchy 2020 says

    Buy a ticket online for 25 or take your chances and buy for 20 at the gate. I didn’t see anything that said tickets wouldn’t be sold at the track.

  15. More information to come end of this week or early next week. Highly doubt there will be on site ticket sales.

  16. Old Timer Trivia
    Will try to make this one a little harder
    Not sure what year. Ron Bouchard was in contention for the modified division championship. He ended up destroying his car. Who was the car owner that stepped up, and gave Ron a ride for the remainder of the season?

  17. So I made a wish to hierarchy of Stafford Motor Speedway to please allocate a section of the stands requiring masks be used that we that are vulnerable or nervous Nelly’s may feel secure in our attendance of the races. And behold, the wish was granted in turn one by the kind a benevolent rulers of Stafford. Wise leaders indeed and we that are riddled with many years of life or at least this geezer thanks you.

  18. Man up and catch the virus like all of those fools who don’t wear masks.

  19. I am debating whether to go or not. I looked and they are charging an extra 5 bucks to order online. Being the cheap guy I am I would rather just pay cash at the ticket gate night of, save a few bucks for concessions. I also have a couple of people that are trying to figure out if they can go or not so I don’t have a good number of how many tickets I need. Is the box office open during the week to pick up tix? I picked tickets up at a local Napa for a couple shows is that available for every show or just the tour races.

    What are the thoughts on how attendance will be for this event. Do you think they max out attendance. Will they turn us away at the gate if they have over 25% capacity. Is there going to be police there with a counter turning people away once they get to capacity. Are restaurants open in CT if we get turned away at the gate. What is a good place to eat in Stafford?

    Nice to finally have some local racing. NH this weekend Stafford next.

  20. I don’t think you could have cloned a better public spokesman then Paul Arute. They have a video that has made it to Youtube. It’s outstanding combining the thrill of starting the season by hyping car counts and upcoming events with safety protocols that they seem to be taking as serious as can be expected.
    A reduced max sell out is expected with a packed paddock. Turn one universal masks required, masks required on the midway, entering the track and a teaser about a PPV live video stream next week. Details to be announced right here on RaceDayCt no doubt.
    Clearly enforcing the rules will be a challenge as a few in this forum have made it clear they have no regard for any of the safety measures Connecticut or any state for that matter are calling for. If any track can pull off a safe and entertaining show Stafford can.

  21. First y’all were complaining about Government overreach, suppression and oppression because of the COVID-19 lockdown and racing was shutdown, now you grouches are complaining about conflicting racing dates. What a bunch of unappreciative dopey snowflakes. ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

  22. Anarchy 2020 says

    Races happening in NH CT and NY MA soon. What a slap in the face to dafella and Karen’s everywhere. Poor fella.

  23. getserious says

    Thank you, Doug.

  24. rob p…
    enjoy your trivia questions!! if possible, keep em coming!! thanks!

  25. Phil, posted a new one in the Tri Track thread. Will most likely post in the newest thread posted in multiple threads a few times, but too hard to determine who answered first.

  26. “What is a good place to eat in Stafford? ”

    Basil’s is good!

  27. According to Stafford website, opening night is already SOLD OUT.

  28. That’s a trivia question isn’t it? When was the last time Stafford could say it was sold out?
    Even at 25% capacity it’s a money maker and they get the money up front. How great is that? If you missed out there still is that PPV possibility dangling out there to pay attention to.
    Over 100 cars is a very real possibility.

  29. 🌈 JD🌈, that 50% capacity?

  30. Second thumbs up to Basil’s for a good place to eat. Or try Backroads BBQ on rt.140 near Crystal Lake.

  31. More people without masks than people with , at practice today , a packed pit area and new driving range not open yet

  32. Hello Rob P. I believe it is Mr Hood. Out of Central Mass. He had a construction business.

  33. Just like the jewelry cars were owned by Mr. Armstrong. Jewelry business vs Construction business. Born in the late 70’s. Know this. Ron Bouchard was a great driver. Same as Geoff Bodine, Richie Evans and my personal favorites George Kent, Bob Potter, Tony Hirshman, and the Christopher Twins.

  34. Anarchy 2020 says

    More people without masks than with? Dafella take note please.

  35. Elect,
    I spent a few hours walking around there and I’d be hard pressed to say there was more people without masks than those wearing them.

  36. S)n I thought it said every other pit stall was going to be used ,it looked like a Friday night , I know it said you didn’t have to wear one in your pit stall , but pit stalls were close , a big turnout I thought

  37. “More people without masks than people with , at practice today , a packed pit area and new driving range not open yet”

    I don’t know about that…

    I saw plenty without masks sitting isolated in or near trailers and directly around cars, but most I saw walking around away from individual pits, or in common areas were wearing them.

    I didn’t spend much time in the stands, so I can’t comment on that.

  38. How much was it to get in the pits last year??? I paid $45 for a pass for next week- might be some price gouging going on? Thought it was $30 but I might b dating myself. Might be more due to an extra distance race for the dare stocks but it really should be Less for any fenderd division

  39. Dont like the price steve? Then don’t go. Someone else would gladly take your ticket. They sold out in a few days…complaining about pricing when the place has been shut down for 3 months, get over yourself

  40. Sure would of liked a heads up on the price increase- no discount for NASCAR license either. I will sell u my ticket for $50… be the last time I go in the pits this year

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