NAPA Spring Sizzler To Be Open Modified Event For 50th Edition In 2022 At Stafford Speedway

In the realm of marquee events, the words Spring Sizzler when it comes to Tour Type Modified racing hold the same significance as the words Daytona 500 mean to stock car racing and the words Indianapolis 500 mean to IndyCar racing.

It’s fair to safe the Spring Sizzler is a granddaddy whopper in the world of Modified racing.

In 2022 Stafford Speedway will host the 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler at the historic half-mile oval, but big changes are in store for the half century celebration.

The NAPA Spring Sizzler in 2022 will be an Open Modified format.

It will mark the first time in 34 years that the main event on the Spring Sizzler card at Stafford will not be a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event and only the second time since the inception of the Whelen Modified Tour that the series will not be the feature event at the Spring Sizzler.

“We are excited to celebrate the 50th Spring Sizzler in 2022,” Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute said. “Fifty years for any event is a milestone. We took a look at the last few seasons and thought it was time for a change. When Dick Bergren, Lew Boyd, and Bruce Cohen thought up the Sizzler in 1972 they wanted it to be a marquee event for the Modifieds, an event that race fans circle on their calendar. The 2022 edition will be just that, an event that pays homage to the past 50 years of Spring Sizzler tradition.”

Since the inception of the Whelen Modified Tour in 1985 the division has been part of all but one Spring Sizzler card at Stafford. The 1988 Spring Sizzler featured SK Modifieds instead of the Whelen Modified Tour.

Stafford Speedway management is expected to announce more details on the format for the event in coming weeks.

Stafford Speedway added its own Open Modified events to their schedule in 2018. The track ran two Open Modified events in 2018. In 2019 three Open Modified events were on the schedule at the track. In 2020 and 2021 the track schedule four Open Modified events each season.

Share your opinion on whether you think this is a good move or not by voting in today’s daily poll


  1. Awesome but, the race distance needs to return to 200 laps.

  2. A Sizzler with heats instead of time trials I hope! Whatever the event length, heats and main feature on the same day please!

  3. Not Phil Smith says

    It would be cool to see them bring back as many of the winners as they can to celebrate the great list of drivers who have won this race. Unfortunately DeSarro, Flemke, Troyer, Evans, Stefanik, Blewett, and Christopher account for 19 of the 49 winners.
    Who will be the Grand Marshall for the 50th Spring Sizzler?

  4. One more nail in the coffin of NWMT. Great move by SMS.

  5. What’s the Duel? advertised as the day before, April 23

  6. I would like a revote on how many Nascar Whelen tour events there will be in NE next season.

  7. will someone explain to me why an open event is better.. bigger purses?? less rules?? more entries?? been my experience that nascar sanctions run much cleaner.. thanks in advance for your wisdom..

  8. I don’t get why people still put the Tour on a pedestal as being the best out there. So it has a national brand name and it pays a decent point fund. As a fan, neither of those things matter to me. I want to see competitive racing on track, a competitive battle for the championship and plenty of events that are close enough for me to attend living in Connecticut. The Tour doesn’t offer any of that now. Most races there are 3-5 cars good enough to win. Before the season even starts there are realistically only five drivers that have a chance to compete for the championship. Next year there will probably be only three teams at the start of the season that are competitive enough to race for a championship.
    This is all you have to look at with the Tour right now when it comes to how bad the competition is. The driver who finished 16th in the standings this year ran every race and didn’t finish a single event. Not just didn’t finish on the lead lap of any events, was not on track running at the end of a single event. That’s pathetic that the 16th best driver in the series can’t even finish a single race on the track.
    The people managing the series have abandoned trying to do anything to please the fan base. Anyone looking at the half empty grandstand at Stafford on Sept. 25 for the Fall Final could see that. Something is wrong if you can’t get fans to show up in the heart of Modified country for the last race of the season with a championship on the line.
    And if the series is as great as so many people want to say it is, why are so many of the good teams leaving?

  9. No tech and spin to win

  10. I think the major benefit of an open tour type event is the cost to put it on the race for the promoter. That cost is hopefully passed down to the teams and fans in the form of lower admissions/ higher purse. With Nascar you have a good idea of who will be there. Opens is kind of a crap shoot especially if they don’t have a published entry list. Driver participation(car count) seems to be kind of a wash these days with Nascar expanding their series more geographically outside New England. From my perspective, that’s the major benefit of running an open show v Nascar.

  11. Last years Tri Track event was the biggest modified field they have had in a long time. No reason why this event is even bigger that that – Hopefully it will be Heats, Consi, Non-qualifier race and 80 green laps – has to pay at least 15k to win…

  12. Ghost Of Atomic Punk says

    But da whelens mods are da best has ever been They pay da most have the gratest uffishels and they are awwsum Go Richie, go Reggie, Lets go brandon.

  13. Fast Eddie says

    JS, here’s a guess for you. Stafford is going to give it a Daytona style look. Time trials to set the fields for two qualifying races on Saturday, which will set the Sizzler field for Sunday.


  15. Stafford better darned well hope this comes off better then the last time they dumped the NWMT because with the SK’s it was bloody well a disaster and the mods were back the next year.
    It is a risk. Stafford opens are always interesting but by every measure the NWMT events are better. More people, a stronger field of cars and the glitz of national exposure. All you need to do is compare last years Sizzler top twenty to the first open or any open race for that matter and it’s no contest. It’s good for what it is but not better then tour events.
    All the costs associated with NASCAR are a burden but if I read Paul Arutes comments right on his last UnMuffled appearance this comes down to streaming rights. Stafford has a superior product they developed and they want control of it. Expenses for Stafford sans the tour will be a lot lower but revenue will be lower as well. In the end a smaller pie but the only outsider is FloRacing. A partner in the venture and not NASCAR that throws crumbs at tracks from their NBC Sports Gold connection.
    Next spring the NWMT will start out with a bang at New Smyrna and the early reactions are very positive. Come April the Sizzler will play second fiddle for a lot of teams prioritizing the tour and won’t be interested in Stafford’s open. May even be in competition or proximity with a NWMT event.
    It’s still the Sizzler and there is the Saturday card that makes the entire weekend pretty great. But the Sizzler itself is about the best modifieds in the region and a whole bunch won’t be there.

  16. Open racing is a JOKE. Spin yourself out and win, certain cars don’t have to go through height sticks, 56,000 on a competitive engine, a bunch of NAPA employees as tech officials. No thanks. If I am spending 100k on a modified I want rules and someone to enforce them or I’m going to the beach. Open modified racing is no different than the WWE events. BTW….what does the championship pay again for a open division??? NASCAR has a HUGE points purse that is given out at the end of the season at a formal banquet in Charlotte NC. Most people forget that. I don’t care what anyone says but when you are sitting at a potential sponsors office would you rather tell them you race the twisted tea division in CT or tell them you race a NASCAR open wheel division? Which one do you think they want their name on?

  17. Not Phil Smith says

    How about the old Sizzler format that worked well for years?
    Time Trials: Top 10 locked into Sizzler but inverted (10th fastest gets pole, 9th fastest gets outside pole… 2nd fastest starts 9th, fastest starts10th). Pay the top five in time trials with at least $1k on the nose. Sandbag too much and you end up in the heats and behind the top 10.
    Heats/consolation races to determine the remainder of the field.
    Race: 80 green flag laps

  18. Tony,

    Not for nothing but you don’t sound like someone who is very educated or currently connected to the current Tour Type Modified scene. The gist of most of your talking points sound like arguments that might have worked 10 or 15 years ago but don’t really hold up today.

    I can’t ever remember someone spinning themselves to get a win in an Open Modified race at Stafford since they were added to the schedule in 2018. I’m not even sure what you’re talking about with NAPA employees.

    Yes, NASCAR does a healthy points fund, but that points fund is only healthy because the tracks that host the events are the ones putting the money into it as a portion of what they put up to host events, so let’s not act like NASCAR is digging into their wallet to put that point fund together.

    You mentioned collecting that point fund money “at the end of the season at a formal banquet in Charlotte NC.” Well, I hate to break it to you, but NASCAR hasn’t held one of those banquets since 2019. Don’t think they’re coming back anytime soon. Check’s in the mail though.

    And then you said: “I don’t care what anyone says but when you are sitting at a potential sponsors office would you rather tell them you race the twisted tea division in CT or tell them you race a NASCAR open wheel division? Which one do you think they want their name on?” Question on this statement, have you been to a Whelen Modified Tour event lately? You do know most of the cars are “sponsored” by companies owned or directly affiliated with the team owner or driver of the car. You’re argument here doesn’t hold up. There are way more visible “sponsors” on cars on a Friday night in the paddock at Stafford Speedway than on Whelen Modified Tour cars.

  19. I didnt see anything in the article or posted by Stafford that there won’t be WMT races at Stafford this year. Just not at the Sizzler. The WMT races in the last few years at Stafford have been quite boring. Most teams ride around for 80% of the race and then make their moves in the last 40-50 laps. I feel like the open races are much more competitive. I was skeptical about the Cup series stage racing format, but man it has significantly improved the racing in that division. They were doing the same thing, riding around and then making moves in the last 50-60 laps. I and several other modified fans believe adding some sort of stage format to the WMT would improve the racing there as well. I know that is not a popular opinion for many of the purists, but something needs to be done to improve the racing.

  20. Never will I go to another Stafford spring sizzler without the modified tour cars!

  21. I liked the old format as well Not Phil. As long as they keep it at 80 laps. Mixes things up a bit and more interesting.

    How about a non qualifiers feature with the winner having the option to relinquish his winnings and start the feature last?

  22. As far as the WMT not being part of the Sizzler, fine with me.

  23. Doug Stafford had 50 cars last fall for a open event, yes it was a Tri Track partner race but the 50 cars went because its Stafford, TriTrack has never seen those counts before or since. The first open last yr a weekend race was 37 cars, that was with a no spec motor rule. Now that Specs are allowed and the Sizzler is a weekend event it will be close to the 50 car count of last fall. WMT had 24 cars at Stafford this year, if sizzler starts 33 cars nxt year those 33 will be far more competive than the 24 that Nascar was able to bring.

  24. Group time trials to determine your starting spot in two 20 lap heat races (THE DUEL ) maybe a consi or match race to fill the field . One hundred fifty laps, caution lap’s don’t count after lap 125 .And let’s not forget to Honor our past winner’s of this historic race over the course of the weekend . Only the Arute’s thinking outside the box will bring this race back to it’s glory . ( The greatest race in spring )

  25. True the first open at Stafford in 2020 did attract a banner field. True the TTOMS race at Stafford last year was epic from the car counts to the vibe that was stratospheric at the time. Those two events were pandemic driven and atypical reflecting a more limited supply of events at the time.
    If all you want to stress is car counts then I shall stipulate you win on that score. I would still say that if you look at the top 20 at the Sizzler in 2021 I don’t know how anyone could say that was not a very strong field of cars compared to any open this year at Stafford.
    Regarding the prediction that there will be 50 cars at the Sizzler in 2022 fingers crossed that pans out. I’d bet if I checked the comments when the 300 was announced I might see the same kind of predictions. Time will tell.
    I don’t want to get pigeon holed into some kind of NWMT or nothing deal all I’m saying is when you drop the NWMT something is lost.

  26. Where will the 01 run?

  27. Speedbowl14 says

    50+ cars at an Open Sizzler???? Crazy talk. Most Stafford opens attract right around 25-28 cars. A few with 30+ and a few below 24. The only one that got to 40+ was the Tri-Track co-sanction. Anyway, too many Stafford Open’s, IMO. 2 Stafford Open’s and 2 WMT races a year would be ideal.

  28. Doug. Bingo.
    Whether anyone loves or hates the tour, how can losing it help modified racing in general? And yeah, maybe only a handful on that tour have a shot at winning for the majority of the time, I get it. But fun to watch. Fun to watch guys chase points. Fun to actually feel like you are vested as a fan watching guys familiar in a series to you, with consistency. It’s why I’ve chased this, and other modified series as well all these years.
    Tell you what pisses me off if I may.
    If and when nascar kills this tour, it won’t be their “fault”. No support they may say, or changing times, or no longer a viable business model. They will do what they do best. Spin it so it isn’t their fault at all. It will be the biggest load of manure you will have heard in a long time IMO. And like manure, this just stinks for a series with so much former glory, recognition of being premiere, and all the dedicated countless people that have put all their blood sweat and tears in it to support it. Not a knock on other modified series at all. just a shame if this comes to fruition for the sport as a whole. Hope it don’t happen.

  29. I don’t think any of US who have chased the TOUR for years and years want to see it end, BUT the facts are if you MISTREAT the group of Racers for as long as they have, At some point they get what they deserve…. True Facts. I Loved the Tour as much as Anyone, Chasing since late 70’s , Went to Martinsville VA this year and really enjoyed it .. { may have been the last one… But I think they are having another race next year, according to my email from Martinsville } Love the History . But they didn’t PROMOTE the Series with any Serious EFFORT … SO here we are , High Profile Owners leaving in droves the last 5 or so years so its on life support at best. But it is nascars fault …. The Modifieds will SURVIVE, The landscape has changed, We will be fine , Modified Racing will continue in New England… WE will be fine. they got what they deserved ….see you at the Haunted 100’s …. Have Fun = Be Happy …..

  30. Good job SMS. Need to go back to the old sizzler 80 laps. Green flag laps ONLY count. The tour is BORING, time trials STINK, HEATS, CONSI, feature. Lets go racing old school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Jerry Fascione says

    No 200 lap crap the original sizzler was 80 laps and it was an exciting race. I agree heats and conci’s earn your way in.

  32. jack lacroix says

    I loved the tour for a long time, but times do change, and sometimes you need to wake up and smell the coffee. I speak from a fans point of view. To my eyes, and I have been watching since the 70’s…. big money really changes the sport. There has always been haves and have nots, but the competition has gotten worse as these gaps widen. I am happy to see Stafford take the steps to make the shows as good as possible in this day and age. In my opinion, SMS has been the premier track for modified racing and that didn’t just happen by accident. The long races and time trials do not lend themselves to a lot of excitement. I would like to see shorter events with heat races and a consi. The weekly shows run this way for the most part and have offered better racing than many of the big shows. It’s time to get rid of these marathon lap sessions and get back to the meat and potatoes of modified racing!

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