Keith Rocco To Drive SK Modified For Dan Avery At Stafford Speedway 

Keith Rocco (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

After parting ways with driver Teddy Hodgdon IV early in the 2022 season, Stafford Speedway SK Modified team owner Dan Avery and his team’s crew chief Mike O’Sullivan decided they would patiently take their time looking for the next full-time driver to fill the team’s seat. 

That patience has led them to an SK Modified racing legend. 

RaceDayCT has learned that Keith Rocco will take over driving duties for the Avery owned Horsepower Hill Farms SK Modified at Stafford for the 2023 season. 

It marks a long awaited reunion of sorts for the 37-year old Rocco and O’Sullivan. When he was 16 years old, Rocco went to work with Ted Christopher’s SK Modified team as a crew member, with O’Sullivan as the crew chief for the team. 

“I’ve known Mike O’Sullivan since I was a 16-year old kid and I started working with Ted [Christopher],” Rocco said. “He’s always been like a big brother to me. So I’m really looking forward to working with him and Dan. Racing is all about having fun at the end of the day. This isn’t a money making sport. It’s funny to think back of all the good times me and my brother had when we raced with Ted. All the laughs we had with Mike and Ted. It’s cool to get back with Mike.”

Rocco is second all-time on the track’s SK Modified win list with 67 victories. He was 10th in the SK Modified standings at the track in 2022 with two victories. He is a four-time SK Modified division champion at Stafford, with his last title coming in 2020.

“I’m excited,” Mike O’Sullivan told RaceDayCT. “I have’t been this excited since Chase [Dowling] got in the car.” 

Rocco raced an SK Modified at Stafford for 13 years for team owner John Rufrano. Rufrano and Rocco parted ways following the 2021 season. Rocco fielded a team at Stafford with owners Mike and Mark Payne in 2022 with Rocco overseeing operations. Rocco also operates Keith Rocco Racing, preparing cars for numerous other drivers. 

“It’s taking a toll on him doing his own car and taking care of his customers,” O’Sullivan said. “A couple years ago I said to him, ‘What’s going to happen when you get so busy that you can’t do your own cars?’ And he said ‘Well, I guess I’ll have to quit driving because this is how I make a living.’ So we were just joking about it a couple times and then he tells me one day, “Don’t count me out, I may still want to drive that car.’ And then it all came together.”  

Said Rocco: “At the end of the day my stuff has kind of been getting neglected. We’ve had great success in the past with Mark and Mike Payne, but everybody is at their point in life where there’s other things in life that we have to concentrate on. They’re concentrating on their business, I’m concentrating on my business and it was just reflecting in my performance and hurting the time I could put into my own car after working on all the stuff for my customers. So this is going to benefit everybody that is connected with me, from the rental cars to my own stuff.”


  1. Interesting news!

    Does Keith still work at Pettit Racing Engines?

  2. Rafter Fan,
    No, he operates Keith Rocco Racing.

  3. Thanks for the info, Shawn.

    Hats off to Keith for making a living with KRR. In addition to renting SKs to other competitors, is KRR a TFR and parts dealer? Did Keith leave Pettit a few years ago as KRR ramped up?

  4. Rafter Fan,
    Question one, my understanding is yes.
    Question two, yes.

  5. I thought he may have been stretching himself a little too thin with all the rental cars and his own SK program. I would expect Keith Rocco the driver to have much better results next season with this new arrangement.

  6. What great writing. Compact, dripping with nostalgia, dotted with historical points of reference and anecdotes with the undercurrent of hope.
    Love looking at the roster as it emerges for the succeeding year. As always there are interesting moves up in class and confusing entries as well. One thing is pretty clear reflecting on the past two years and seeing a new seasons roster emerge. Aside from Owen there’s a new hierarchy in the SK division. A healthy turnover and sign of a robust division.
    How big a deal was it losing John Ruffrano as a partner? Just look at the standings and you’ll see Marcello in the 88 in second. The 57 entered the season with a new car, new paint scheme and old friends Rocco had won races with but could not produce the consistent results they had hoped for. If they want to call it other commitments fine. For me it’s more about breaking up the band, getting new members and finding it impossible to produce the same great sound. Take Butch Shea out of the Chassis Pro shop and Owen would probably struggle as well.
    That particular Avery team has had Dowling in it and he quit before the end of the season. Hodgdon as well. Pitkat has turned the wheel of few times. Aside from a fortunate Dowling win not really the success one would have hoped given the driver talent. Can some new, symbiotic relationship between two experienced modified guys, each with his own set up philosophy form to produce results not previously achieved by the team? Sure anything can happen but history says don’t count on it.
    This move is an expedient. The priorities now for a family man with customers to keep happy which in racing means faster lap times, is not necessarily to win SK races. It’s to keep the wife and kids happy, take care of business and way down the list is having a decent ride and a chance to be competitive. The Roc from several year ago, part of an awesome team with an elite driver doesn’t exist any more.
    Just watch how the KRR rentals do. Gervais jumps up in results and gets a win perhaps that’s the success they’re looking for.
    This version of The Roc may be more successful just maybe not as a driver on the track.
    Curb your enthusiasm accordingly.

  7. Csg, completely agree. Thought the same thing, never seen him run that bad, although bad for him would be considered pretty darned good by many competitors. I think the rest of the SK field will be chasing the 10 all season.

  8. Hopefully he will have good results and good cars and not suffer the same fate as Dowling and Hodgdon not finishing the season. At least he has the resources to compete if it does not work out even though that’s not what he wants to do.

  9. steven seiler says

    Would love to see him at Waterford for tri track dates racing

  10. Question what number is Rocco gonna have on Dan Avery’s car

  11. Bonner,
    No. 22.

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