Camping World SRX Series Brings Electric Atmosphere To Stafford Speedway

The Stafford Speedway grandstand just before 6 pm Saturday night (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

The eyes of the short track racing world descended on Stafford Speedway and Stafford Speedway looked back at the world in a most amazing way. 

The inaugural Camping World SRX Series, the brainchild of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Tony Stewart and NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief Ray Evernham, brought some of the biggest names in motorsports to Stafford Speedway Saturday. 

And local fans responded to the arrival of the SRX Series by turning the facility into a daylong festival of electric anticipation for the live series feature on CBS at 8 pm. 

The grandstand gates opened at noon and fans swarmed in. By 6 p.m., two full hours before the SRX telecast was set to begin, the grandstand at the track was packed butt-to-butt. A crowd of about 10,000 had the place buzzing.

“This is what everybody talks about, back in the 70’s when it was packed, when it was a full house,” 29-year Stafford Speedway chief operating officer Paul Arute said. “It’s really what you want for an event. You want to have that electric atmosphere. We did it. We got it.” 

By the end of the night wild crowd was in full rocking celebration after home track driver Doug Coby scored victory over the likes of Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and more. 

“It’s a special night for short track racing in America,” said the 41-year old Coby, who began his stock racing career as a teenager at Stafford Speedway. “This is a special night for Stafford Motor Speedway and everybody who is a short track racer around the country. To have these guys here and this amazing crowd at Stafford. I really want to thank Ray Evernham and everybody at SRX and Camping World.” 

After the day was complete, Stewart said he was happy with all he had seen. 

“I thought it was fun” Stewart said. “It’s cool. The personalities we’ve got show in the driving. That’s exactly what this is designed for. When you see these guys run you’re going to see their personalities show up in their driving style.” 


  1. Think about all the years Stafford had been under the NASCAR and Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham shined more light on Stafford in one night than NASCAR has done in decades!

  2. At this stage there is no way I can be objective about this. I’m giddy at what I saw last night. I knew this would be the opportunity of a lifetime for the Arute’s and local racing and knew it would be huge but it exceeded even those lofty expectations.
    Coby was great and proved without a doubt he is a dynamic and cerebral driver and those championships no fluke. Was his dominating the first event good or bad for ratings we’ll see. I think it was good TV seeing a packed house totally engaged in supporting the Rocky Balboa. It now becomes a story line to promote for future Rocky Balboa’s and a standard to equal for all of them.
    My only concern now is the reviews and rating of the first event. No one knows the monetary value of all this for Stafford Speedway outside of the inner circle but I’m hoping it’s big, the series is repeated next year and Stafford once again the site of a race. The money so big it provides a nest egg for the repaving of the track when that becomes necessary.
    It’s early and not much is out there but Nick Bromberg from Yahoo Sports weighed in.

    “It was a straightforward broadcast that succinctly explained what was happening and didn’t dumb anything down. At the slight risk of being hyperbolic, the production value of the SRX telecast was better than what Fox’s NASCAR telecasts have become. Fox set a new NASCAR standard when it started broadcasting the series in 2001. Since then it’s become hokey and the production quality has declined in recent years.
    The racing itself was, well, it was racing. There were a few wrecks but passing wasn’t plentiful. That could change over the next few weeks. You can’t expect the first event to be a barnburner. Even if the racing doesn’t get any better it’s at least a fun novelty to watch if you have nothing else to do on a Saturday night this summer. “

    That’s not a bad start as far as I can see.

  3. These guys need more practice to get better for race time, to prevent the field from getting spread out. As I said earlier, the Indy Car guys will need to play catch up, and indeed it showed. The full fendered guys ruled, as I expected. Waltrip and Elliot had technical issues, dropping them to the bottom, they were competitive while they were running, otherwise they would have been near the top. Helio gave it a good shot though, he was entertaining. The Indy car guys were a bit out of their element.

    Tony Stewart learned during the race and was able to hang, as did Bif. All they had to do was follow Kobe and learn his lines, entry and exit technique.


    Can not wait to see the Bobby Santos III race!!!!!

  4. pat clancy says

    great to see such a large crowd . not to mention CBS on hand if you there wow did you watch there drones what a show, and the little drone flew around with race cars. fun to watch.and then all the great drivers on hand put on a great show.

  5. The drone cam was the show… just awesome flying!!!!!

    Stafford Speedway looked great!!!!!

  6. Excellent post Doug, Great summary ..!! This is Great for the Sport, Full Grandstands live TV…. Congratulations all around….. !!!! Hopefully I can catch the replay somewhere…Was turning wrenches at Seekonk last night…

  7. Great job Stafford. Entertaining race and I think as these guys get used to the cars the racing will get better. Plus now the folks at SRX have some data to build on it will make for better chassis tuning going forward.

    Can’t wait to see BSIII get behind the wheel, he should put on a great show!

  8. masks optional says

    Packed stands, people everywhere, smiling, unmasked faces everywhere, the way racing is supposed to be!! Loved it!!!

  9. Can’t tell you how much I’ve missed Allen bestwick. Refreshing for sure. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Danica, but I thought she did a great job. She mentioned that these cars were running bias ply tires. I missed that.
    The drone shots were really a nice perspective around the old girl, all lit up on a Saturday night. I thought Biffle might have a shot early on, but got to give it to Coby, as he ran a great race.

  10. Stuart Fearn says

    I can verify the tire Bobf.
    I chatted up the Goodyear engineering folks on site. 9.5” wheel and tire, same as cup. Bias ply short track tire with a hard compound and stiff sidewall construction. Forgiving tire the cars are able to slide a little bit on and puts it in the drivers hands.
    The SRX organization was very prepared, factory engineers and reps from all the major components like brakes, engine, tires, radio communications (Waddell communications on site as well, diamond 💎 level Racing electronics dealer) fuel , just all around very well thought out and executed on their end operationally and the SMS family knocked it completely out of the park
    I’m sure there were hiccups but the team dealt with probably 100x and made the show and experience seamless and enjoyable for all

  11. 🌈🦄2020 says

    If Coby doesn’t get a cup ride by next week, I’m boycotting NASCAR

  12. Mike Glasscock says

    They should let Coby race at Eldora. Let’s see what he can do on dirt.

  13. Can’t wait to see them Indy drivers on dirt…

  14. I’m liking this SRX series, and looking forward to the rest of the races. The concept is really good, and best of all, it brings attention to SHORT TRACK RACING!!!!!!

    The announcers need to expose the importance of short track racing and how it is the foundation of racing.

    I do hope that this makes people look up local short track and check it out.

  15. Thank you for that information Mr Fearn.
    It reinforces that this is totally about a level playing feild. It will be interesting to see these things on dirt though. At least they are going to genuine dirt tracks, unlike the Bristol debacle, which should be a huge help.
    Does anyone know, what cbs would think would be a successful ratings number when all is said and done?

  16. Cleotis Blackman says

    There is no way 10,000 people were at this event max capacity is about 3000 and even that is pushing it.
    This was a drawn out boring event I would’ve had more fun watching the bumper cars at and amusement park this was only about the money

  17. lin gerringer says

    Little lackluster for me. Thought it may have been set up for local guy to win. Great looking cars but not any great racing. I’ll give them the next five races and let’s see how it works out. Maybe dirt will be much more exciting.
    Quarter mile tracks…???? Won’t be any passing there…
    Good luck guys…really want you guys to succeed.

  18. Cleotis Blackman,
    I try not to feed the trolls here just fishing for attention, but if you think that was 3,000 people there Saturday you may want to go get your eyes tested.

  19. I think we’ve learned since the pandemic started that fan observations on crowd size is one of the most biased and least accurate of all possible observations made about anything connected to races by fans.
    Race fans tend to be jaded but that RaceDayCt poll shows the event at least locally was a big success.
    The only ratings information I could find so far was a preliminary report of 1.33 million views and that was on a sketchy reddit entry. That doesn’t sound that great but Saturdays are thin for networks normally getting .5 to 3 million views. Who knows what the goal was of CBS but they’ve made it clear as far as motorsports go this is it for them. They aren’t going to be bidding on NASCAR or Indy or any other big motorsports event with a full sports calendar. Whatever the number is it will be important to see the views go up.
    Here’s a good one about the odds modeling predictions before the event.
    Oops, time to get a new algorithm.
    One thing is for sure. In the national sports world Doug Coby definitely got his 15 minutes of fame. The story everywhere is him beating some of the best drivers in the world.

  20. I took a look and it talks about Stafford seating 10K going back to the 1983 when “At least 30 people were injured when two race cars traveling 90 mph bounced off the track at the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway and crashed into the grandstands as 10,000 spectators watched in horror.” This number is very consistent over the last 40 years. I did enjoy it. Much better then freezing last month in the stands.

  21. Brian Bowidas says

    Great race to witness in person and the crowd was unbelievable. Doug Coby is a cool calculated driver and now hope someone gives him a bigger opportunity like an Xfinity ride👍👍

  22. Loved seeing the grandstands packed. The TV broadcast was pretty good with all drone coverage. I was skeptical they could put on a good event with only half a field of cars but watching it I thought it was entertaining. I also like the david v Goliath aspect of the local v the grizzled veterans. It makes for a great storyline. I am not sure they expected the local to be that dominant, it certainly didnt make the superstars look all that good. Anyway, they got me interested enough to check out the next one which I believe is on dirt. That should be something interesting. Congrats to Stafford and Coby both came out looking great from this event.

  23. Stuart A Fearn says

    Pretty easy math, even I can do it. Front straight is 800 feet long (might be 850), seats are say 18″ wide, thats 533 people per row. 20 rows high is 10,666. Plus there is the turn four small grandstand and the two pit grandstands. I’d bet $10,000 there was 10,000 people there without a doubt.

  24. I can appreciate the humility from the guy that undoubtedly uses a lot of cyphering and very expertly getting the 12 and 92 going so fast but the capacity calculation but I’d have an alternative view.
    The Stafford specs say the front stretch is 550 feet. The bleachers comprising approximately one third of the front exposure and grand stands two thirds. There’s walk ways to account for and this is America after all. As a society we tend to be super sized and that 18 inches may not be sufficient for race fans at large who do tend to favor sausage over a nice cob salad.
    During the pandemic with restrictions in place numerous race goers hating restrictions consistently observed the races were “packed” with fans when they weren’t. 3000 is ridiculous on the low side. Trust the printed number of 8000 main grandstands, 200 reserved and 2000 stands. Not everything is a conspiracy meant to overstate and deceive the public at large. Those numbers aren’t subjectively thought up by the facility. They have insurance, fire and health district implications that were clearly on display during the pandemic.
    On or about 1980 the family attended a race at Stafford for the first time. It was the hay day of modified racing pre NWMT and the field of modifieds routinely star studded. We were stuck in the corner of the first turn bleachers that were wood at the time. It may not have been capacity but compared to the norm now it sure as heck stuck in our memories feeling like a mass of humanity. Lines for food, beer and the rest rooms…….. fa-get-about-it.
    The important thing is did the mega attention the SRX race had on Stafford Speedway increase it’s chances to get a bump in attendance for the regularly scheduled events to follow. Sure can’t hurt. Perhaps in the short run. More likely the bulk of the fans in attendance were there for a big time, once in a lifetime happening with big names and bright lights. The beautiful carriage will most likely be turning back into a pumpkin for the rest of the season at Stafford Motor Speedway. It’s still a country fair prize winning pumpkin. What may be lasting is the financial impact the event had for the track that will hopefully allow them more flexibility and security going into the future.
    These things aren’t accidents. Every bit of quality management at Stafford Speedway leading up this put them in a position for Ray Evernham to consider the track for the honor of being the first event. Then the event came and they managed that expertly as well working like they did with Tri Track but on a much bigger scale. If there is a second SRX season they did everything humanly possible to be on the schedule next year and in my view none of this was luck with the possible exception of the weather.

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