Paydays: SK Modified Drivers At Stafford Speedway Have Pocketed Over $115,000 Thus Far In 2021

(Press release from Stafford Speedway)

Stephen Kopcik celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature April 30 at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

Through the first 8 weeks of the 2021 season at Stafford Motor Speedway, drivers in the track’s premier SK Modified® division have been paid out over $115,000 in purse and contingency awards.  35 different drivers have each taken home a share of over $107,000 in purse money and over $8,000 in contingency awards.  Stafford’s contingency partners for the 2021 season include NAPA Auto Parts,, Maybury Material Handling, North East Race Cars, Manley Performance Parts, North American Motor Car, New England Racing Fuel, Sunoco Brand, and FloRacing.

“The SK’s are definitely in a good place,” said Stephen Kopcik, driver of the #21 AirGas sponsored SK Modified®.  “The championship this year will pay $5,000 to win.  That kind of money is awesome.  It takes a lot to do what we do and the track makes sure it takes really good care of us as drivers.  It’s great to have the marketing partners that the track does with the SK Modified® division and hopefully it can continue to keep growing year after year.”

“Stafford does a lot with the contingency program,” said Michael Christopher, Jr., driver of the #82 Eastport Feeds / PT Watts SK Modified®.  “Usually if you get a top-5 finish, you leave the track with a gain on the night and if you can win a race, it’s even better.  It’s thanks to FloRacing, NAPA, Sunoco, Maybury, and all the companies who pay out bonus money for us. Shout out to them and a shout out to Stafford for getting those partners on board so we can have some pretty nice bonuses to go racing for.”

Christopher was the winner of the June 12 SK Modified® All-Star Shoot Out, which paid $4,000 for the win.  Christopher also won stage 2 of the All-Star race to win a $1,000 bonus which brought his total winnings to $5,000.  That winner’s check will be second to only this Friday night’s NAPA Auto Parts SK 5k winner, who will take home over $5,000 in purse and contingency bonuses.

“[The All-Star Race] was pretty awesome,” said Christopher.  “Obviously it was a lot of money to win and we race for money but we don’t really race to make money, we race to put on a show.  For local short track racing, it is pretty awesome to have the All-Star race as well as the NAPA SK 5k that pays out $5,000 to win on the schedule.”

In 6 career NAPA SK 5k starts, Christopher has posted 3 top-5 finishes, including a career best finish of 3rd last season.  Christopher will be looking to add a second $5,000 payday to his 2021 resume and he is looking forward to the 100-lap extra distance NAPA SK 5k. 

“I feel like I’m more suited to longer distance races so hopefully we can come out of that race with another big paycheck,” said Christopher.

The 8th Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K is set for this Friday, June 25.  Tickets for the NAPA SK 5K are available online at and will also be available at the gates day of show.  General Admission tickets are $30.00 for adults, $10.00 for kids 6-14, and free for kids 5 & under.  Reserved seating is priced at $35.00 for all ages and pit passes are $45.00 with a valid 2021 Stafford Competition License and $50.00 without a Stafford license.  If you are unable to attend the event, tune into the live stream on FloRacing, the official streaming partner of Stafford Speedway. 

For more information, visit, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.


  1. The Atomic Punk says

    They should spend some of that cash on a resurface or a 2nd racing groove… You Stafford fans do remember a 2nd Groove?…Back in the days you could jump to the outside and pass a few cars…. and Please do not try to say otherwise.

  2. Ya……ok…….and what has Stafford made? Quick math, average fan count 6,000 at average 45.00 per person, including concessions……270,000 per Friday. Hmmmmmm….. Stafford is doing just fine. Charging drivers and owners for a pit pass is embarrassing. Do the NFL players pay a entry fee at the field? Come on Arute family. Recognize the folks that put on your show that pads your pockets. Maybe the owners and drivers should stand at the gate until their passes are comped. That would be epic.

  3. Barry,
    First I will say there has been someone who has commenting on this site for years who uses the name Barry when leaving comments and I just want to make it clear to anyone reading that this “Barry” is not that person who comments here regularly.
    Second, your numbers aren’t even close to reality, and even discounting your fairy tale numbers, this is a business. They don’t just count the money and leave at the end of the night and put it in a vault. You act like there’s no operational costs? Hilarious. And thirdly, nobody puts a gun to anyone’s head and says they have to go racing. Every guy racing has the option of staying home if they don’t think it’s fair. I will say after more than 25 years of doing this it still amazes me how many people in short track racing think track owners are awful people for trying to run a profitable business.

  4. Bill Realist says

    Barry- Stafford Motor Speedway is a business not a charity. The primary function of a business is to offer a product or service in order to make money for the proprietor.

  5. The Barry who usually posts says

    ” I just want to make it clear to anyone reading that this “Barry” is not that person who comments here regularly.”

    Thank you.

    FWIW, the payout is about $15k per week, which I think is pretty respectable considering there are four more divisions, the track is a business, the employees and owners like to eat, and there probably should be a rainy day and improvement fund.

    Over the last 5 years, SMS has made major fan friendly improvements, like new bathrooms with TV’s, a new uphill bar, replay TV’s at many concessions, and streaming TV access, all while weathering post-recession and COVID restriction pressures, without major ticket price increases.

  6. Uconnjohn says

    When I see an article like this I honestly don’t know what to think. I like Stafford. It’s a clean, beautiful short track facility. It’s the closest track to my home and I am there most Friday nights. I have also come to realize Stafford never misses an opportunity to charge extra when they can, even if it’s for 5 or 10 extra laps by the street stocks. If the teams are happy with the purses with what Stafford charges for admissions, good for them. Why am I somewhat confused about this-Lebanon Valley. Their big Mr.Dirt event pays $25,000 to win! How much is the average Saturday night show an LV, $11. BB Mods, SB Mods, Pro Stocks plus other classes, $11. I think the owners of Stafford do very well for themselves indeed and I have always felt the teams have deserved more money than what they receive considering THEY are the show. I know it’s more complicated than this and nobody does put a gun to the teams heads, just something I have felt over the years.

  7. Barry since it sounds like your new to this site you should go back into the archives and you won’t find many trashing the Arutes most are all positive, you obviously haven’t been to Stafford ever or in awhile ,you might have noticed improvements some big some small every year ,and your numbers WOW ,I’m sure taxes aren’t much or electric,sewer,water bills are all small

  8. solsticeson says

    That pay for whats needed to be fixed? Or a few cars? TY Shawn

  9. Stafford, 60% full on a typical night and a ticket price of $45. Whoa if only. More like 25% full if the weather is pristine and a regular show price of $20 and totaling everything you’re south of $100,000. Then you have to pay people as inconvenient as that may be. If there’s a threat of rain or cold you still get the bills but don’t get the 25%. It’s the special shows that make or break the season.
    In my view what the Arutes have cobbled together out of spit, bailing wire and chewing gum in a declining industry and in the shadow of a pandemic is nothing short of miraculous. Add in the break from the NASCAR sanction, refining and improving their streaming product not to mention SRX and fa-get-about-it. You want to take shots at them you definitely won’t be doing it with a whole lot of company nor does is speak very well to your knowledge of the current state of circle track racing in Connecticut.
    Thompson, Stafford and the Speedbowl all have the resurfacing clock ticking louder and louder. Stafford may be in the best position to address it when the time comes. They have had the most success and they have a secret weapon in Lisa Arute who is a civil engineer with experience in road work and was involved in the last repaving of the track.
    For now if you’re beating on the one groove drum at Stafford you’re not watching the races at the track. That is simply not the case at all and in fact the high side groove has improved marginally as the track has aged and the fines in the pavement in various areas erode at different rates. That’s not my opinion it’s what Lisa Arute mentioned in a Bottom Shot podcast.
    The wild card in all this is FloRacing. Everyone mentions FloRacing. FloRacing put a bunch of money up front to be the outlet for Stafford and I assume they know what they’re doing. People in the stands and a high percentage of the folks in the paddock have subscribed. Matt Buckler, Shawn Courchesne and probably Ben Dodge subscribe to FloRacing. I see the Gleason brothers discussing Stafford races on their Making Laps podcast. They’re not going to the races at Stafford much at all they’ve got subscriptions to the service and they’re Thompson guys. All the grandma’s and grandpa’s in Florida or anywhere else in retirement communities of all the young people racing have subscriptions to FloRacing so they can see their grand kids. The subscription isn’t that much and it is a pie that gets divided up in large chunks but it’s paid up front and it never misses a pay day by getting rained out.
    Owning and promoting races at a track these days is a suckers bet that few with financial resources would take on as a new entrant into the industry. For those with a history like the Arutes with a generational property and business model that is questionable at best they’ve far exceeded what anyone could ever expected in performance with both incremental and at times bold business decisions.
    All you need to do is look at all the Arutes. They are all worker bees. All lean, mean and doing well defined jobs quite well. If they make enough to support a decent quality of life in my opinion they’ve more then earned it.

  10. It hard to get the car owners and drivers together to collective bargain for better compensation. It takes a strong person to stick their neck out like Dick Armstrong did in the 70’s with NEDOC. There were a few Driver and Owner strikes at Stafford, Thompson and Riverside. Mostly about charging admission for the people who put on the show and low purses. We used to be reimbursed 6 pit passes at the end of the night in cash, once NEDOC dissolved due to Dick’s health the collective bargaining went away. Polverari was another big believer in collective bargaining at Riverside, i think he got owners and drivers into the pits and free parking for crew members. On another note Atomic Punk needs glasses…. The Arute family has always put on the best shows and the Kids are really stepping up the program – Thank You Team Stafford

  11. Fast Eddie says

    As someone who goes to a number of northeast race tracks every year, I don’t need to say “I think” on this one. I know Stafford Speedway sets the bar for pavement racing in the northeast! They have the best payouts and great sponsors which attract the highest car counts, hence the best competition week to week. There are some tracks that do a good job with their weekly programs, but for Modifieds in particular, Stafford is THE place! It takes some juggling to get there on a Friday work day from the Boston area, but based on event count that has been my home track. for a while now. And to the pessimists, no, I’m not getting paid for this.

  12. The Atomic Punk says

    Not really sure what “Barry” said that caused all the Name debate. He/she feels the place is making a bunch of cash and could give the drivers and owners a break at the gate $. Heard competitors saying that 25 years ago when I raced. Guess they just never stated in a Fluff pc. Worry not Shawn, I’m sure the track saw your article.

  13. “Phony” Barry should TRY and run a Race Track. One point he brings up is that the drivers and teams are charged a pit pass. Well I know a good portion of that is Insurance Money. Second, I don’t think they are averaging 6000 per night. Third, how about the DOZENS of people that it takes to run the track. To many for me to start listing. Yes, in the ideal world the SK’s would be getting 3K to win ebvery night, but then the front gate price would have to double, and I do not think you would want that “Barry”

  14. The Atomic Punk,
    Not for nothing, but a couple weeks ago the SK Modifieds had an All-Star event that paid over $40,000 and $2,000 to start on the day of the SRX event. You do know they didn’t have to run that event on that day. The place was already sold out before that race was even announced. They didn’t sell a single extra ticket that day because they added that race. And the SK Modified drivers got the chance to race in front of a crowd of 10,000 people and all got a pretty nice payday. It’s funny because I don’t hear any of the teams who compete there complaining about the purses. They want to race. Look around. I give all the credit in the world to Cris Michaud and Tom Mayberry for what they’re doing promoting events at Thompson Speedway, and I hope and pray they can make it work, but the reality is, that’s a track where the people who actually own it don’t even want to run short track racing events any longer. You go to Stafford and you get one of the best short track racing experiences in the country, and that holds true for both fans and competitors. A clean and modern facility that goes above and beyond in promoting its competitors and the sport positively in every way. The reality is, short track racing for the most part in this country is a dying industry and in Stafford you have a family that devotes themselves – 365 days a year – to bucking that trend. I see no issue with them promoting what they do for racers, and I know the racers there appreciate what they do.

  15. Ben Dodge did free driver and owner passes at Riverside Park briefly in the 1980’s. Then there were some irregularities not necessarily associated with the policy, he got dismissed…….it was a whole thing at the time that as you can see has affected him minimally in the long run. Point is he tried it, we appreciated it at the time but it wasn’t workable in the long run.
    It’s funny reading collective bargaining associated with racing for a number of reasons. First it’s not employment. It’s recreation you elect to participate in and is an expenditure for all but a select few who participate. The purse viewed by the majority as an offset to some expenses.. Second racing is populated overwhelmingly with a political orientation that is the exact opposite of those that would support the practice of collective bargaining. Racing isn’t about banding together to accomplish common objectives. It’s about separating yourself from the majority by trying your hardest to beat the snot out of them.

  16. Ken L,
    I think almost anyone that walks into Stafford Speedway on a regular Friday night and pays attention to their surroundings has a pretty good understanding that Fake “Barry” is a living in a fantasy world with his observations and opinions of how things go at the track.

  17. Pay the MONEY $$$ and they will come… We learned years ago at SPEEDWAY SCENE the back gate pays most of the PURSE…. If you added up pit passes per team per car, not to mention GAS sales, Tire Sales which the Tracks get a Cut, Tracks also get a cut from WELDER and RACE PARTS VENDOR , The back gate pays the PURSE.. RIP VAL LeSieur That man had 60 or more years producing the BEST Racing Publication in NEW ENGLAND,, The whole Family was involved in gathering articles , photos putting the paper together , Bones Boucher was involved big time, along with Many other National Writers .. Many of ” US ” couldn’t wait for Thursday or Friday and rush out to the mail box to CONSUME that paper front to back. The upcoming races, Race Results, They had the pulse of the Racing World on each page .. Now we have RDCONN to stay on top of Northeast Racing.!!! Thank you Shawn!!! Val is looking down cheering you on, Keep pushing forward through the ups & Downs….. It’s a tough industry to say the least..

  18. The leading indicator of the health of short track racing is how profitable the tracks are. You can whine about the bourgeoisie taking advantage of the proletariat all you want, but it’s actions that matter. If enough racers and fans support a track so that it earns a good profit, then they’re doing what they should be doing.

    Another consideration is location. I’m sure West Lebanon, NY isn’t nearly as affluent as pretty much any town in CT. The best business model for a track in one area might not be in another. We should all be happy to see any short track turning a good profit. Those of us who actually care about the sport anyway.

  19. My guess from reading this post is Barry and Punk have no clue we what running a business costs. After taking the revenue from the front and back gate and subtracting the following; associated personnel cost, electricity, water, sewer, food and beverage, insurance, advertising, fire and EMS services, race purse’s, IT services, weekly facility maintenance and repairs, etc., what do you think is left? I am certain they have to fund a capital reserve account for major upgrades. What is considered a reasonable profit to exist; 20, 30, 40%?

    The place is a business that provides entertainment to the public and deserve to make a profit. In the future please educate yourselves before you attempt to post about something you clearly know nothing about.

  20. Shawn, I do NOT walk into Stafford on a regular basis, maybe twice, or if I am lucky 3x a year, and I can see what is going on. People who bitch about Stafford should just clam up. You do not know how good you have. A HIGH CLASS track, run very professionally, and that takes a LOT of people. The Arute’s should be applauded for maintaining such a fantastic facility. My wife does not like to go to the tracks. Not really a fan of racing in general. Her experiences with racing were Islip Speedway and Riverhead. DUMPS compared to Stafford. When I finally convinced her to come with me on one of my Stafford trips, she was VERY surprised at how clean it is kept, so if you want a high quality product like you have at Stafford, we as fans have to be prepared to support as best as we can, because of the two LI tracks I mentioned, along with Freeport Stadium, have closed and will be no more!

  21. STAFFORD FAN says

    go buy a track and run it yourself otherwise STFU. so lucky to have Stafford one of the top short tracks in the country and its been that way for YEARS .watch on TV or in person .. if you dont like the rules or the price dont go …

  22. The Atomic Punk says

    Earl, Show me where I commented on having an issue with a Track trying to make as much money as it possibly can? I’ll wait. Typical 2021 Woke /Cancel culture attitude Earl.

  23. Screw the TV ! GO out and support your local short track !

  24. Misread your comment Punk. My bad on this one.

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