Celebrity Spins: Tom Fearn Introducing Unique Late Model Program At Stafford Speedway

Tom Fearn and Pat Kretschman are partnering to put a new Late Model team on track at Stafford Speedway for the 2021 season with rotating list of drivers behind the wheel (Photo: Courtesy Tom Fearn)

Looking for a chance to make an appearance in the Late Model division at Stafford Speedway in 2021? 

If you’ve got a racing resume stout enough to impress the track’s all-time winningest Late Model driver you might have a chance to do that. 

Six-time Stafford Speedway track champion Tom Fearn will partner with former racer and longtime team owner Pat Kretschman in 2021 to put a new Late Model team on track regularly at Stafford Speedway. 

The idea for Fearn and Kretschman is to have the ride always available for use by a rotating group of well-known talents.

Fearn, who has 56 career Late Model wins at Stafford and championships in the division in 2016, 2018 and 2019, said the idea for the program was seeded for him after a conversation he had with dirt racing standout and Camping World Truck series regular Stewart Friesen. 

“I had talked to Stewart Friesen two years ago in Charlotte at the banquet,” said Fearn, who was also a three-time champion in Stafford’s former Pro Stock division (1993, ’95, ’98). “He had said something about Stafford and how he always wanted to go there to race. I said ‘What if you had a ride there in a Late Model waiting for you, would you go?’ And he said yeah. He said ‘If had an open Friday I would love to do that.’ It kind of got me thinking.” 

The new Fearn/Kretschman owned ride will debut for Saturday’s 40-lap Late Model feature with veteran Mike O’Sullivan behind the wheel. O’Sullivan is scheduled to run the first three events of the season in the car. 

Fearn said ultimately the car will serve as a backup for him and his cousin Ryan Fearn, who also competes full-time in the Late Model division at Stafford. 

“It’s kind of a spare car for Ryan and I,” Tom Fearn said. “If we’re at the track and we’re having problems on a certain night the car will be there for us. But, we want to use it and have different names running it.” 

Tom Fearn said the team is in the process of trying to get one of the competitors from the SRX Series lineup to drive the car on Friday June 11, the night before the SRX Series debuts at Stafford. 

“We don’t care who it is, just as long as one of them wants to do it,” Tom Fearn said. “Why not? Have a little fun. Just don’t tear the wheels off of it, just go out there and have fun.” 

Tom Fearn also said he’s hoping to convince Cup Series driver and former Stafford regular Ryan Preece to take the car for a spin at some point in 2021.

“We just want to have fun and throw a bunch of guys out there,” Tom Fearn said. “And it can benefit Ryan [Fearn] and I too at the same time because we can try some different stuff and not have to worry about it. We plan on bringing the car every week. If we don’t have anybody to run it maybe we’ll do a start and park or something.” 


  1. Really interesting concept here. Hopefully the rotating celebrity driver can Inject some new life into the late models. I havent been too interested in the division for several years now as they struggled with car counts and had one driver who was pretty dominant for awhile when I was paying attention. I guess it has gotten better recently but I tuned out a few years ago. Hopefully these drivers are there to race and compete wins and not run around the back of the field keeping the car safe from harm. Honestly, I dont think some of these well known drivers would be interested in a start and park type of program. Really if they are going to go that route any driver would do. If you do get Stewie behind the wheel for a late model race at Stafford let me know I would like to get down there for that one. Given his schedule I am not sure there will be too many opportunities to make it happen.

  2. be cool if they could put in last weeks winner of the other divisions – say draw out of a hat of last weeks winners – Stafford can foot the bill

  3. I just don’t see any reason why an SRX top gun would want to do it unless they were completely confident it was a highly competitive ride. They know the SRX cars are the best and they’ll be competing on an equal footing. A back up car for a star. That I would think would be a tough sell.
    Interesting idea indeed and it wasn’t that long ago everyone was noodling for new wrinkles to generate fan interest and this could be one. Sorry I just think it will be a disappointment. The reason would be that race preparation is everything to success, really labor intensive and back up cars just never get the attention they need to really compete. Grinding it out week after week. What most experienced drivers will not want to look like is a Rent-a-Racecar just doing laps. The Late Model division is highly competitive for the guys 100% dedicated to one car and it takes most of them everything they have just to keep pace. I hope I missed this one by a mile.

  4. What happens when you have a celebrity driver lined for a Friday night and you or Ryan have a problem early , does the celebrity get tossed

  5. That would be my guess Elect. The celebrity driver turns into the celebrity spectator. Its not often that issues arise in practice and heats. Everyone makes the field most nights and with the handicap system in place there is little incentive to take risks or race hard in the heats. Sure a mechanical issue could arise but their program is pretty good. I doubt it would happen more than once or twice during the season where they need the back up for a Fearn.

  6. A neat idea. If the car is as good as Tom or Ryan’s, whoever is driving should be somewhat competitive. It will be interesting to see who ends up driving. Whoever does drive will have no handicap, which could make things interesting

  7. Stuart A Fearn says

    Elect, not to jinx myself (which I don’t believe in) but the last time we had a mechanical issue in a car like that was maybe 4 years ago and we swapped engines between practice and the feature in the 92 LM. Tom started last and finished second with the backup motor on a green to checker feature.
    Don’t remember the last time before that we had to miss a feature due to an incident earlier in the day. In the rare case this might happen we would do what makes the most sense, whatever the case may be. Often times when this kind of thing happens other competitors will come by to offer you their entire car to use in the feature and they would sit out. Believe it or not, this scenario does happen and most would be amazed and impressed by the sportsmanship and comradery amongst the competitors off the track.

  8. Race day so Stuart and all the Fearns are no doubt caravaning or setting up in the paddock as I finish this up. The best of luck to you all today. Unfortunately that comment on sportsmanship and camaraderie combined with morning coffee got the juices flowing so now I’m off to provide another perspective.
    The year was sometime around 1980. Sitting in the stands with the family and listening to the mellifluous voice of a young Ben Dodge telling the crowd that you too can be a part of the racing on the track by building an affordable and simple Street stock and becoming a future star at Stafford. So I did. No it was not affordable nor simple in any respect. It was worth every penny however becoming a big of an addiction but that’s not what this is all about. It was some hair brained notion that being a race car driver wrapped you in a cocoon of like minds in the paddock where it was one for all and all for one. That didn’t exist in my experience nor do I believe it exists now as some kind of universal theme of racing.
    What life is like in the paddock is not like minds it’s more like society with all kinds of people and different personalities. Many clannish, secretive, small minded and petty. Most minimally friendly to a degree and of course the big personalities. A very successful, big personality befriended me early seeing no threat on the track and it is that experience that may be relevant here.
    Condensing it all it was the first half year of acclimating and learning and it was mostly a disaster. Starting with the first night being told by my pit mate next door not to worry about inspection just go out in warm ups and they’ll find you. They found me all right and chewed my ass off. Enter the front runner later on who provided some tips while networking and regaling us with stories of what it was like racing for the championship that we all found beguiling. Jumping ahead he lost his motor at the end of the season, was in a points battle at Riverside Park, I volunteered my car for the final race and it got destroyed in a wreck that was not my guys fault. Not only was I not upset that a car with only a handful of races got destroyed I built a new one over the winter and offered it up for the IceBreaker the following year. Got a top ten that he was not thrilled about observing the car was under powered but left me ecstatic and hopeful for the coming season. .But that also in not my point.
    My point is that in return for offering my car to a very knowledgeable, talented driver and his crew the car advanced light years in performance in a short period of time. I was given a wealth of tips on setup from springs, shocks and toe that ended up jumping me from struggling to make the feature to mid pack. It would have been better to not have a car wrecked but the knowledge was worth it all.
    I’ve searched my mind and can’t think of any widespread practice now of front runners being offered cars out of a sense of racing camaraderie and sportsmanship. The few times it happens I’m certain it’s not a one way relationship.
    In the mid 80’s Tom Fearn started his what would become historic run of success in the Late Models. Sidebar: Tom suggested that he may have started the practice of buying great motors from engine builders in the Bottom Shot Podcast which is not the case at all. The Streets that became the Late Models had been using engines supplied by builders the most successful of which were TA Engines and Horsepower Engineering. Anyway Tom was a bit of a phenom at the time with many in the paddock marveling at his single minded devotion spending every waking moment figuring out how to get his car to go faster and be a better driver. I know if he was in need of using my car at the time I would not have hesitated to let him have it and it would not be because of generosity. It would be because he’d make the car better.
    You can call it sportsmanship and camaraderie if you like as a front runner. The guys getting run over at the start of features by the front runners may have a different perspective. For those lending cars I would think of it as more a quid pro quo type of deal that is anything but altruistically based. They’re getting knowledge, possibly a better finish with a different perspective, a thrill of something new or banking points for a return favor in the future but they are getting something.
    Front runners can afford to make references to camaraderie and sportsmanship because they are winning the races and getting the lion share of the money. Back in the field populated with teams that many times are referred to as back markers and field fillers this nobility of racers may be a bit more muddled.

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