Two-Time SK Mod Champ Jerry Pearl Joins SK Modified All-Star Shootout At Stafford

(Press release from Stafford Speedway)

Jerry Pearl (Photo: Courtesy Stafford Speedway)

With former 3-time SK Modified® champion Mike Christopher already confirmed as an entry for Stafford’s Inaugural SK Modified® All-Star Showdown, another former multi-time track champion has been confirmed.  Jerry Pearl, the 1984 and 1985 SK Modified® track champion, will pilot a Todd Owen prepared racecar in the 50-lap race that will guarantee the winner a minimum payday of $4,000 with an opportunity to take home as much as $10,000.  Over the years Stafford Speedway has seen brothers, fathers and sons, and even mothers and sons racing against one another but in a Stafford Speedway first, Pearl will join his grandson Bryan Narducci on the track.

“It’s going to be different for sure,” said Pearl.  “I raced against my son for a few years but my grandson is totally different.  I’m really looking forward to it and I’m sure he is too.  It’s been a while since I’ve driven a car but they always say you don’t forget.  When they first started talking about this race, I thought I’d like to be in the race and everyone was asking me you’re going to do that and I said why not?  I got to talking with Mike Christopher and he asked me if I was going to do it and I asked him if he was going to do it and he said he was so I said I would do it.  I raced with Mike and Ted Christopher back when they were just getting started.  I remember when Ted first came on the scene he was having some trouble with his carburetor.  A fellow named Nick Dinsmore used to help me with my motors and one day Teddy was revving his engine up and it was falling on its face so I said to go over and help them out and Teddy ended up beating me that night to win the race.  That was the last time I helped him out.”

Pearl recorded a total of 12 SK Modified® wins at Stafford from 1983-1989 along with his 2 SK Modified® championships.  Pearl’s last Stafford start was in 1989 and his last start in a modified came in 2002, but he is hoping to put any rust aside and come away with a top-10 finish.

“The last time I raced Stafford was the late ‘80s and after that I raced at Riverside at Waterford and I retired in 2002, so I hope it all comes back to me,” said Pearl.  “I go to the races every week towing Alexander’s car but I haven’t driven any of the cars that they have today.  The cars today are a lot different to the cars that I was driving against guys like Busgy Stevens, Geoff Bodine, Ronnie Bouchard, Fred DeSarro, Jimmy Spencer, and Satch Worley, so I’ve been around for a while.  I’ve driven for a lot of different people over the years and Todd and I are pretty good friends and I have to thank him for allowing me to drive his Waterford car.  I’ll have to get used to the head restraints and things like that and I’m sure it’ll all come back to me.  A top-10 finish would be really great for me.”

While Pearl may have to worry about getting acclimated to a new style of SK Modified® race car, one thing he won’t have to worry about is the competitiveness of the car he will be driving.  The car that Pearl will be driving was taken to victory lane at Waterford this past Saturday, meaning the car will go directly from victory lane into Pearl’s hands at Stafford.

“The car that Todd is letting me drive is the same car that Todd won at Waterford with last Saturday night,” said Pearl.  “His car is pretty close to what I like in a car so hopefully we’ll be good to go.  I’m a little bit older now that I was back then but it’s just a number.  We’re going to put four new tires on the car so hopefully we’ll go pretty good.  Years ago they called me ‘Coast and Collect’ because I was always there at the end.  Sometimes I probably should have won more races but I always tried to finish.”

An event schedule and additional event information for the SK Modified® All-Star Shootout as well as the SRX Racing Series is available at Tickets for the Inaugural SRX Racing event presented by are sold out. Tickets for Friday’s Twisted Tea Open Modified 80 are available at

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


  1. Jerry has some of the best racing stories! I hope he has fun and does well. Kudos to you Jerry! 👍

  2. The two SK championships were in the early years of the SK’s when they were second division to the Modifieds. I raced Streets at the time, worked at the same company with one of Pearl’s car owners Pete Simonson and we chatted from time to time. Pearl and the 33 raced modifieds in the early 80’s and were always outgunned doing most of their building and engines themselves but did have their moments. When they went down to the SK’s they were able to hit the ground running and the results showed. Pete said he and his partner liked Pearl because he knew how to win but conserved equipment while doing it which every owner appreciates. Then they went with Gunning after Pearl having experienced a lot of success so I guess conservation took a back seat to victory for the S&S Race team.
    Pearl started his career in the early 60’s in the Bomber division at Plainville Stadium. At the point he came to Stafford he was already a contemporary of Bob Potter and well established as a winner. Pearl was at Stafford then gone while Potter went on to win 5 SK championships and for my money the best SK driver that ever was Ted Christopher included.
    I mention all that as groundwork for what I’m going to say next.
    The notion of including past champions I thought we terrific. Preece could always get a good car, Pitkat has the connection to Avery and there are a lot of other drivers that could be included that are capable of competing successfully and safely. What we have so far is Mike Christopher who is fully qualified to race not just because of who he is. He’s raced in the current era and he’s intimately familiar with every aspect of SK’s building the darn things. Everything surrounding the Christopher’s is compelling an extraordinary addition to this special race. Jerry Pearl is not in the same class at all.
    When Jerry Pearl started racing they used milk truck seats and strapped or chained the doors shut. It’s 50 to 60 years later. Jerry Pearl is an old man. He was on the Bottom Shot Podcast and he looks and talks like an old man. I can say that because we are about the same age and I have intimate knowledge of the type of body Pearl inhabits and what it’s potential is. Having raced at one time can say with some authority it’s not race ready.
    If Pearl gets in the car, stays out of everyone’s way and this is treated like an honorary appearance of a local legend copying the Bob Potter Ride Along strategy that will be a terrific race add on. If he, Stafford Speedway, Todd Owen and every other person associated with this are actually green lighting the guy to race competitively in my view it’s disrespectful to the current era of drivers and a ludicrous notion.
    You don’t have to have raced a car to appreciate just how hard driving one of them is. We have the video. They’re going really fast in a pack, literally inches away from each other. Even for the youngest and best it’s almost impossible to react in time to some the the racing challenges they face in every race they run. Now you’re telling me you’re serious about putting an old man who hasn’t done it in decades in the same field with the drivers competing for a lot of money and say have at it. COME ON MAN!!!!
    No age isn’t just a number. There’s nothing wrong with being old and there’s a lot of things we can do. Driving the car to the track for your grandson is one of them and helping with the car where you can. Relating your history on a Bottom Shot podcast is another.
    There are exceptions to the “no fool like and old fool” saying Red Farmer being one of them. This isn’t that in any respect.
    Every time Pearl is interviewed he takes pride in the label he was given “coast and collect”. That would be the perfect solution here. Coast out of the way of the younger drivers, provide a flashback for all of us that knew you in your prime as a winner and collect a nice check in the process.

  3. Doug,

    I hope other old past champion drivers join the field. A nice way for kids to see their dads champions race. To your point. I am sure he is going to keep the car clean and have fun: I am sure it’s going to take some laps to get settled. Age is just a number. Think about half the field that shows up each week with minimal chance of winning.. they are there to have fun and improve and entertain the fans. Jerry is a great addition to this event!! I am glad Todd Owen is letting him run it. Todd is a good guy. The ultimate winners are the fans.

  4. Although not a champion at Stafford, maybe Keith Rocco can put his dad Ronnie in a car for the race as well. That would be a fun addition to the race!

  5. Ronnie Rocco. An unappreciated character in my view. Blows in late, misses the heats, starts scratch and proceeds to drive the regulars nuts slicing his way through the field like a hot knife through butter. I embellished that but it has elements of truth. On two occasions, 7/31/87 and 4/10/88 he won.
    I don’t know why I feel so strongly about this Jerry Pearl thing. Perhaps it’s envy although I don’t think that’s it. I think it has more to do with viewing the SK’s from the start. Believing that what we see now, an ultra competitive division populated by very good drivers in equal cars is the culmination of decade’s of refinement. That 15 number is not just random. The top 15 compete in a window frequently that is only two tenths of a second difference. That throwing an old man into the middle of it cheapens the product it took decades to refine turning it into a side show and disrespecting the abilities of the current crop of drivers.
    “Age is only a number”. I read people say that like it can make this normal. For me that expression has more to do with mental state and potential. Not letting age hold you back from participating in any endeavor. However it is not a substitute for practice and training. If an old guy was a good basketball player at one time, sees some kids shooting hoops and says to himself I’d like to take one of them on one on one it’s not enough to say “age is just a number” and make the challenge. You should be getting yourself a basket and ball, practicing, putting in the time then making the challenge. Anything short of that put you in the “no fool like the old fool” category.
    The odds that Pearl’s participation should he end up near the front of the field in any segment result in some kind of injury to himself or damage to cars is very low. However it is a risk and the top 15 drivers that have earned their spots trying to win some pretty good money in what amounts to three sprints shouldn’t be distracted worrying about what they do around a 70 year old guy that has not practiced or trained extensively in the car leading up to the race.
    Watch and listen to the guy many of you say is capable of running with the young guns in the SK division in this special event.

    That guy is a leading citizen of local racing history that by the time NEAR catches up with be in the hall of fame. He is not race ready and I can say that because I’m very much the same guy. I could say a mans got to know his limits but it’s more then that. That man should have the respect for his fellow drivers not putting himself in a position that could affect their performance worrying about him.
    The Ronnie Rocco reference is a seed that if the Stafford management cared to could plant and take root. You want to see grey beards drive competitively in an actual race make it happen. Pearl, Gunning, Chowanski, Ronnie Rocco and I’m sure a lot more in a special race and all on an equal footing. Put them in anything and let them duke it out the crowd would love it. I know I would and not worry about any of them in the process since they’d be competing hard on an equal footing.
    Finally, no advise but an observation for those south of 60 that have high expectations for their later years that seem to put so much store in that “age is just a number” expression. There’s another expression called “over the hill” . As you get seriously old you have the choice to live by either. If you chose the former it won’t just happen it will require work. You will have to eat right and exercise regularly, depriving yourself of many of the things you formerly loved and stay mentally engaged and challenged. In the absence of that discipline if you’re depending on the “age is just a number” deal by itself to help you in your golden years you’re going to end up very disappointed.

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