All-Timer’s Night: Woody Pitkat Tops GAF Roofing Open Modified 80 At Stafford 

Woody Pitkat celebrates victory in the GAF Roofing Open Modified 80 Friday at Stafford (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Early in Friday’s racing card at Stafford Speedway, Tom Fearn scored his 64th career Late Model victory. It was his 81st career win overall at the track, moving him into a tie for second place on the track’s all-time win list with Woody Pitkat

Fearn got to celebrate the honor of being second on the all-time win list for all of about a couple hours on Friday. 

The night’s card ended with Pitkat holding off the charges of George Bessette Jr. to win the GAF Roofing Open Modified 80 Friday at Stafford Speedway. 

The victory moved Pitkat back into sole possession of second place on the track’s all-time win list with 82 victories. 

It was a night at Stafford that saw three of the four drivers in the top-four on the all-time win list score victories. Keith Rocco, who sits fourth on the track’s all-time win list with 79 victories, won the SK Modified feature. The late Ted Christopher leads the overall win list at the track with 131 victories. 

“Tom Fearn has been racing about 69 more years than all of us so he should have probably about 30 more wins than us,” Pitkat joked in victory lane. “It’s all good fun. We just keep adding to the list.” 

Over his career at Stafford Pitkat has 40 Late Model wins, 30 SK Modified wins, five Open Modified victories, three Street Stock wins, two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins and two Modified Racing Series wins. 

An email promotion sent to fans Friday running down the storylines of the Friday racing card had a section pointing out Pitkat’s struggles in the last two Open Modified events with a tagline asking “Where’s Woody?” Pitkat responded in victory lane.

“I’m right here,” he said.

George Bessette Jr. of Danbury was second in the GAF Roofing Open Modified 80 and Teddy Hodgdon IV of Danbury was third. 

Bessette was leading Pitkat with Hodgdon in third when caution came out on lap 51 for debris. Pitkat won the race off pit road with Hodgdon coming out second and Bessette third. 

“[Crew chief] Cam McDermott, we work awesome together,” said Pitkat, who was celebrating his 43rd birthday Friday. “He does such a great setup. Nailed the pit stop. We had a killer pit stop. Came out light years ahead of everybody.” 

Matt Galko did not pit under the caution and led the race on the restart. Behind Galko Pitkat and Hodgdon fought side-by-side for second. Hodgdon got by Pitkat for second on lap 56. On lap 58 Hodgdon went by Galko for the lead with Pitkat moving to second. On lap 63 Pitkat got under Hodgdon into turn one and came off turn two with the lead. Half a lap later Bessette went by Hodgdon for second. 

Bessette pestered the bumper of Pitkat over the final 15 laps, but never found a lane under him. 

“George was knocking on the door there and I was just trying to do whatever I could to protect and make it hard for him,” Pitkat said. 


  1. Would be curious how much having the two big open shows bookend the season is finally starting to catch up with the mid-season open 80’s.

    it used to be that you either had to pay all the NWMT costs and run the big shows, or you ran the open 80’s for cheaper. now that everything is open, its kinda like why bother with the mid-season ones now. its kinda just turned into some sk/skl guys in tour cars, + woody and goodale.

    And then, if you bumped the money up, does it take away from the bookend races?

    The only thing I am sure about is that the comment chains would have been a mile and a half long if the tour lined up 17 cars on the front stretch.

    What are the betting odds now for low car count of the year in major events? Early season favorite was probably Langley, I think tonight has to be the new fav right?

  2. Congrats to Woody and the whole #88 team for winning the GARoofing open 80. Great job.

  3. Phil Brance Jr says

    The difference is stafford management will probably react to what’s happening and cut the amount of open events for next year. NASCAR will just keep on not reacting to bad car counts and keep scheduling way more events than teams want. They already lost one top 10 team this year and it’s pretty sure at least 3 other current top 10 teams will be shutting down before next year or going to part time schedules.

  4. You really think that, huh? You think stafford is going to blink first give up one of these 4 dates that they have, and potentially let something else like the tour, thompson, or jdv swoop in and take it?

    And I challenge you to name a major touring series (ie something with a dozen races atleast) that has a better car count or more full-timers than the tour. i bet almost all of them will be dirt series.

    cars tour? sure. ACT? car count but not full timers. PASS? nope. ROC? nope. ASA? not enough races. dont think any of those southern late model series does either. SMART tour is close.

    Northeast racing fans, specifically ones that call Stafford home, live in a bubble. 30 car fields are not the norm for almost everywhere. most series are perfectly fine with 20-25 car fields.

    Anything more isnt sustainable, unless you have a short, low travel schedule.

    I wouldn’t worry about Stafford just yet. 17 is getting iffy though if it falls again. it might be sacrilege to some, but I wonder if giving sk’s these nights off would help. Let top teams focus on a tour car, and lets bottom teams catch their breath. Could make both divisions better.

    And i know I’ve kinda made fun at the car count. But its mainly making fun of the part of the fan base that almost insists you can’t have a good race without a full 30+ car field. They made fun of the tour for the last few years, they should be able to handle their own medicine for a while.

  5. Here we go again , bitching about car counts. Hey zig13, why don’t you give a team about $200,000, then they could build a car, buy all the support equipment, and run the open races at Stafford. Racing isn’t a cheap sport. Plus, in the case of last night, allot of families are on vacation, which could explain why some teams were not there.
    Couple all of that with the lack of respect shown on track and you’ll know why counts are low. Why would someone spend the money it takes to run a modified just to watch an overpriced demo derby? Until the drivers start respecting each other on track, the low cacounts will continue.

  6. Can’t blame teams for not turning out for a mid season, non-points paying event in 90 degree heat and humidity. Not to mention this is a big vacation week for families and the attrition that the season takes on equipment.

    Comparing cars counts to other tracks and series it wasn’t too bad, and there were enough quality teams to put on a really good show.

    The Open Mods have been putting on excellent racing at Stafford the last few years and I imagine they will be a part of the schedule for years to come. Perhaps some sort of point fund would entice more teams to compete in all the events.

  7. A sad note; Nick Mastriani,Who owned the #L21 modified, passed away on independence day. Nick was a car owner back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. His #L21 was driven by SJ Evanston at both Stafford and Thompson.

  8. Did I miss the car count contest I thought there was an open race last night. Actually I’m sure there was Woody won. Everyone want’s to be Woody he’s a natural and a pretty cool cat.
    My my, talk of the Stafford schedule sandwich being two slices of the tastiest home made stone ground whole wheat bread with only baloney and processed cheese in the middle. Panic in the executive suite with cutbacks for next year under consideration has been suggested. You know what Woody would say because he’s so cool? Easy there, take a breath. Three tour mod shows at Wiscasset, Wall and Stafford in two days. Six tour mod events in the last 15 days.
    This was all anticipated. Ben Dodge said as much well before the season. He did not place blame but it’s obvious who the blame belongs to and that would be NASCAR with that ridiculous, bloated schedule. That to be clear I’m loving but in terms of regard for the overall health of the division it showed none. And complicit with NASCAR is JDV Productions not satisfied simply with their NASCAR promotions but expanding to opens of their own.
    Stafford, ACT/PASS, MRS, The Racing Guys and the MMTTS tweaked their events but basically stuck to precedent in terms of the quantity. NASCAR and JDV are primarily responsible for taking an already busy schedule then proceeding to pack it to the breaking point. And you can bet they knew what they were doing.
    28 cars at Wall in 2019, 27 just last year and 23 signed up for tonight not including last year champ. Are they panicking at NASCAR over the continued erosion of the quantity and quality of their fields of cars or the almost complete lack of fans in the stands at some races. Certainly not, they’re NASCAR. And when you see weaknesses over a series of years what’s the answer? Pretty obvious isn’t it expand the schedule by nearly 20%. And in that schedule have a lot of races with no pit stops and in the space of less then a month send them on road trips. Way out to Lancaster, then way down to Langley then back back out to Oswego. The cost of racing you say a problem. There ain’t no stinking problem says NASCAR look at all the money we saved on pit stopless races on tires.
    There’s cross currents between many of the promoters with grudges and competitions and alliances. They’re all partly responsible for creating the chock full schedule like last year that showed strain at times but mostly held up. But make no mistake it was NASCAR and JDV Productions that saw the strain, said to themselves how many straws will it take to really get the camels knees to buckle. Then proceeded to add the straws.
    No doubt at NASCAR central, the broom closet sized offices with no windows they have the the team over seeing NASCAR modified races is doing their best Steve Urkel. “Did we do that???”

  9. 80 laps is too much. First 50 laps was a snooze fest, thankfully the air cleaner fell off the 20 car to pull the caution. So glad the 3 car stayed out and blocked the track to make the race entertaining for 10 laps. Great run for the 1 team, The Pup did an amazing job behind the wheel, lost the race on pit road.

  10. 80 laps is too long, everyone is riding around saving tire incase yellow never comes.

  11. The amount of whining is indicative of the society we live in. Stay home and knit a blanket if you don’t like what’s happening with racing.Just be happy the track is still open and guys show up every week. If you want boring overspend on a whelen mod tour show….congrats to woody for getting the win and happy birthday to that awesome individual

  12. i think ive been pretty open that i dont really think the car counts are bad, im just giving it back to the same people who gave it tour for the last few years for the same car counts. 17 isn’t great. But the lower mid 20s most things have gotten is fine.

    I’m not really sure why anyone is blaming the tour on this. the tour has always pulled their own fields for the most part, and their drivers rarely race outside of it.

    Compared to this event last year, drivers like Dowling, Newman, Ethridge, Preece, both Dimatteo’s, Ruffrano, Blewett, Barrett, Salzarulo, gallap, Swanson, Bakaj, Perry etc. were all no shows,

    Some of those were never going to come back, like Newman and Preece. But the others sure as heck didnt flock to the tour.

    And NASCAR doesn’t really care about how many fans are in the stands. they care about how many tracks sign a sanction agreement. and as of this year, those are still as high as they’ve ever been. if the crowds truly arent enough for a track to make money, that number will start to drop, and then maybe theyll care.

    At least if there ever comes a time when it has to happen, pulling back a select few races is a massive cost savings right away. thats not something open shows can really do.

  13. wmass01013 says

    Ooook to Dr. Phil can u show me where it was said the 79 team went away was because the WMT schedule is too much when McKennedy himself in a release and a contact from this site would Not Comment on the reason and add the 79 Team RAN STAFFORD, THOMPSON AND NHMS open races as well before the team said No more.
    To Doug you can show me where any Track on the WMT said Jimmy Wilson showed up with a weapon Threatening the Track to hold a WMT race, If a track or Promoter=JDV wants a WMT race is Jimmy supposed to say ‘ NO we will have too many races and will Bloat the schedule of Tour type racing, if the track pays the purse and wants the race then why limit the schedule? Does McD or BK, Coke or Pepsi, Bud or Miller limit their brands so the others can have their FAIR Share?
    Please tell me the RIGHT amount of races the WMT should be, 6? 8? 10? 12? all in CT or New England? Lee, Langely and Lancaster hell No, TOO FAR as with Richmond and Martinsville, dont even mention North Wilkes!!!!!!!!! Wall, Oswego or Riverhead, naw, that JDV fool with Mad Dog and Claremont where only 500 people show up.
    Stafford and Tri Track have lost cars in 2023 because NASCAR has bloated the schedule, Rufrano, Rocco, Dowling, Both Dimatteo’s Bakaj, Etheridge, Flannery,, Swanson, Chrsitopher Jr, Barrett, Izzo all regulars at Stafford Open, no where to be seen in 2023 because of Jimmy Wilson!
    Tri Track which in its 1st few yrs would always draw 40 plus cars from alll over now down to lower 20s in 2023, NASCAR’s Fault for having 19 races in 2023.
    So for 2024 i hope Jimmy Wilson Contacts you Doug to set the PERFECT schedule, and for all the other haters, charge no fees for licenses or pit crews, limit races to 40 or 50 laps, that worked at Thompson! S.o no pit stops needed and people wont be bored, pay a 1 Million $ purse at every WMT race to teams wont QUIT or leave, No tech or safety on cars to hold down cost, so we can injure or worse Drivers again.

  14. Fenders Galore says

    Shane, you are spot on!! I completely agree…

    Some people just love to complain! Do you people have a clue just how great Stafford and it’s program is in comparison to other short tracks?? The Arutes have a top shelf facility and great product. As Shane eluded to, just be thankful we have this awesome facility to watch racing on Friday nights…

    On another note the battle with Bessett and Pitkat was great! Hodgdon put a good show on, the pit stops added some suspense. What more do people want??

  15. Fast Eddie says

    Who knows how many cars will show for a given event? That’s part of the fun of going, who’s showing up? I’ve seen 12 car races that were relly good, and 30 car races that weren’t. As for Safford, the format is good, last night’s car count a little less than usual but still a good race.

  16. Got you riled didn’t I all you NWMT lovers? Knew I would but to be fair I’m no hater. I did say I was loving the expanded schedule and I organize the Pick 6 after all highlighting Tour races. And speaking of that wmass where’s your entry? Giddy up big guy clocks ticking. And because you’re a big old sweetie pie I’ll give you a little extra time.

  17. Guys I think everyone is missing the High point of the night. The show of the night was the driving of George Bessette Jr. last night. This is an SK Light driver that with a little control reminds me of the GREAT TC. TC. drove a little over his head when he started and learned the hard way to become the GREATEST.
    If George learns to back off and pick his points of aggression , he is gonna be tough haven’t a car or division he couldn’t figure out very fast .

  18. With all due respect Al, your points regarding Bassette ring true, but the driver of whom he reminds you neither possessed nor exemplified the patience you ascribe to him. Consequently, he, for that and other reasons, does not deserve your characterization as “the GREATEST.”

  19. Suspicious Stagger says

    No, you’re right Mike. One, there will never be another TC because TC was his own thing, as is Bessette. Comparing a 60 year old man to a 20 year old man is kinda extreme. Maybe in due time, but certainly he’s a twenty year old fireball. He respected TC throughly, it shows in his performance in racing.

    let Little Mad Dog be Mad Dog and TC be TC.

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