Welcome To The Big Show: Huge Field Highlights Tri-Track Mod Series Debut At Stafford

Doug Coby is part of a stacked entry list for Saturday’s Tri-Track Open Modified Series CBYD Modified Classic 81 at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

On April 25, 2004, Jerry Marquis scored victory in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Speedway. 

It marked the last time a Tour Type Modified event at the historic half-mile attracted an entry list eclipsing 50 cars. Fifty-four cars showed up that day at Stafford Speedway looking to make a 33-car field. Names like Tom Baldwin Sr., Ken Bouchard and Mike Christopher Sr. were part of a group of 21 drivers that didn’t make the feature that day.

On Saturday, 16 years later, that 50-car mark for a Tour Type Modified event will once again be eclipsed at Stafford, though this time it will not come from an event bearing the NASCAR brand name. 

The Tri-Track Open Modified Series has made its first event at Stafford Speedway one that has hypnotized the Northeast Modified racing world with a 53-car entry list overflowing with champions and winners galore. 

“It kind of is starting to remind me a little bit of the [first] North-South Shootout [in 2003] when it was at Concord [Speedway in Concord, N.C] and everybody got excited and went down,” said six-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby, who will run Saturday at Stafford for car owner Gary Casella. “It’s just the right time. Everything is done. I don’t think people got their full fix of racing this year and it’s a good paying race. Tri-Track always tries to make sure that the guys in the middle of the pack and the back of the pack are taken care of at least to make it worth coming to try to qualify. There’s a lot of factors that have gone into making the entry list as robust as it is.” 

The entry list features every winner of the Whelen Modified Tour championship over the last 10 years. Coby won titles in 2012, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17 and ’19. Also in the field are 2011 champion Ron Silk, 2013 champion Ryan Preece and 2018 and ’20 champion Justin Bonsignore. 

Saturday’s CBYD Modified Classic 81 is a race born from a negative situation that has blossomed into one of the most highly anticipated Modified events in Connecticut in years. The last time a Tour Type Modified event in the state of Connecticut attracted an entry list of at least 50 cars was the 2004 World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway. That event, on Oct. 17, 2004, had 50 cars on the entry list for a 32-car starting field.

The Tri-Track Open Modified Series traditionally ends its season late in October with the running of the Haunted Hundred at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway. Because of state restrictions due to the global pandemic the series and Seekonk Speedway were forced to cancel the event. Not long after the decision was made to pull the plug at Seekonk, Tri-Track management came to agreement with Stafford Speedway to move the event for the 2020 season. 

“I’m really happy about it,” Tri-Track Open Modified Series managing partner Ed Bennett said. “It was kind of a no-brainer that Stafford does it right. I knew it would be a good event. They’ve picked up the ball and run with it and we’re working hard to make it a better event. It’s kind of an honor to go there. They just do things right there. … I knew that this was going to generate interest. I think right from the announcement you could see it. It’s taken on a life of its own. The only thing that I can remember in Open Modified racing in the last 20 years like this was the first North-South Shootout, which generated unbelievable interest.” 

Stafford Speedway chief operating officer Paul Arute sees the event as an illustration of the growing revitalization of Modified racing as a whole. 

“I think it’s the really a perfect storm of 2020, kind of how all these Open events have come together,” Arute said. “I really think a lot of it has to do with the Modified community in general just has a really strong pipeline of drivers that start all the way down in carts and SK Lights, to SK [Modifieds]. If you look around then country it’s got to be the healthiest group of asphalt cars around by a mile and that’s not by accident. It took a long time to get here. 

“I’m very optimistic that this type of event, with a lot of cars and a really good field and a lot of excitement will continue to be the norm. That’s what Stafford has been trying to do forever, to build up the show. Between the SK 5K to the Sizzler, our goal is create to big events and have it that every time we have cars on track it’s a big deal. I think that the process is working.”

Car owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. will run the event with Mike Christopher Jr. as his driver. Baldwin points to the wide variety of entries from different divisions and tracks as a throwback to the old days of true Open shows. 

“It’s really cool,” Baldwin said. “To see all the excitement and everybody bringing different stuff, just like the old days. Different engines, different cars, different theories of set up stuff is going to happen. It’s pretty cool.” 

The CBYD Modified Classic 81 will feature five heat races, two consolation heats and a B-Main consolation finale to set the 30-car starting field. 

“Obviously, anything can happen with the way the heat races are set up.” Baldwin said. “The outcome of someone making a mistake and you getting wrecked, or you wrecking is there. … There’s a lot of good racing that’s going to go on this weekend.” 

From the 2004 Spring Sizzler to the CBYD Modified Classic 81

  • Mike Molleur finished 24th in the 2004 Spring Sizzler. His son Andrew is on the entry list for Saturday.
  • Tom Baldwin Sr. failed to make the field for the 2004 Spring Sizzler. His son Tommy Baldwin Jr. will field a car Saturday for Mike Christopher Jr. Mike Christopher Sr. was one of 21 drivers to miss making the field for the 2004 Spring Sizzler.
  • Renee Dupuis finished 21st in the 2004 Spring Sizzler. Her husband Ed Bennett is a managing partner of the Tri-Track Open Modified Series,
  • Tony Hirschman finished second in the 2004 Spring Sizzler. His son Matt Hirschman will be looking to clinch the 2020 Tri-Track Open Modified Series championship at Stafford Saturday.
  • Driver/owner Dave Etheridge, who finished 15th in the 2004 Spring Sizzler, is on the entry list for Saturday at Stafford.
  • Ron Silk, who will drive for car owner Bob Horn Saturday at Stafford, finished 17th in the 2004 Spring Sizzler.
  • Doug Coby, who will drive for car owner Gary Casella Saturday at Stafford, finished 25th in the 2004 Spring Sizzler.
  • Charlie Pasteryak finished 29th in the 2004 Spring Sizzler. His son Chris Pasteryak is on the entry list for Saturday at Stafford.


  1. Great “then and now” article Shawn! And based on my previous post saying the last one with 50+ cars was 15-20 years ago, thanks for confirming I had the right timeframe. Awesome for TriTrack and Stafford to open the feature to 30 qualifiers! That also gives great potential for about 24 cars for the B-main! What an unbelievably great day this will be for Modified racing! CAN WE GO YET?!? 🙂

  2. Great article Shawn. Looking forward to reading about the event on RacedayCT. Originally I had planned on attending, but a vicious car accident Wednesday night has left my wife and I beaten, battered and bruised up. Hope those who do attend see some great modified racing.

  3. Rob P.,
    I’m so sorry to hear of your accident. I’m glad you’re on the mend and wish you and your wife the best. I’m sorry you can’t make the race but I’m glad you’re still here.

  4. Thanks Shawn, worst part, we were about 800 feet from our driveway I’m looking forward to reading your reports of the racing action. You and your staff do a great job.

  5. Rob P. Glad you both are not seriously injured. Read a stat years ago, that most accidents happen within 2 miles from home. Maybe people get comfortable driving close to home, or let guard down when getting close to home ..??

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