Keith Rocco Turns Late Decision Into $10K Payday With Outlaw Mod Win At Thompson Sunoco World Series 

Keith Rocco celebrates a $10,000 payday after winning the Thompson Outlaw Modified feature Sunday at the Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – He wasn’t even supposed to be there. 

A rainout on Saturday made a lot of people miserable at the Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway. 

For Keith Rocco, it apparently made him $10,000. 

Keith Rocco and Mike and Mark Payne owned team weren’t planning on racing in the Thompson Outlaw Modified event scheduled for Saturday at the World Series. When rain forced the event to be postponed to Sunday they decided to jump in. 

And despite having a multitude of problems during the feature, somehow Rocco ended up in victory lane. 

Rocco held off the charges of Kyle Bonsignore over the closing laps to win the 100-lap Thompson Outlaw Modified feature Sunday at the Sunoco World Series. 

Rocco earned a $10,000 payday for winning. 

“This was a last minute deal, we weren’t going to come,” Rocco said. “With the rain out [Saturday] we went back and finished this thing up.” 

Rocco recovered from going a lap down after pitting on lap 19. 

“This team just don’t give up,” Rocco said. “It was a little discouraging. The air cleaner came loose. I said ‘We’ve got to pit, it’s the only option.’ Coming down pit road we lost it. My brother ran down pit road and grabbed that thing. I don’t know how we pulled this off. We lost a clutch, we lost a muffler, this thing is falling apart.” 

Bonsignore was second and Austin Beers third. 

“The car was driving amazing,” Bonsignore said. “We timed it perfect. I just used up a little too much of whatever was left of my right front [tire] and it kept me from being able to cut under [Rocco] at the end. He was brake checking me in the center [of the corners] and I was trying to just dip underneath him and I didn’t have enough power or enough right front [tire] to get by him.” 

The event was marred by an ugly brawl that took place in the infield. It was unclear the extent of injuries involved from the fight or if State Police would be making any arrests.

Sam Rameau went by Jake Johnson for the lead on lap one. Johnson stayed with Rameau and on lap seven it was Johnson moving back to the top spot. 

On lap eight Austin Beers got by Rameau to take over second. 

The first caution of the event flew on lap 12 for the spinning car of Charlie Pasteryak. 

On the restart it was Johnson holding the top spot with Rocco going from fourth to third past Rameau. Caution flew again on a lap 19 for an issue with the car of Carl Medeiros Jr. Under caution Keith Rocco went to pit road from third place because of the air cleaner issue. 

On the lap 19 restart it was Beers getting by Johnson for the lead. Five laps later Johnson used a move off of turn four to move back by Beers for the lead. On lap 26 Eric Goodale was able to overtake Beers to go to second. 

Caution flew for the third time on lap 32 for the spinning car of Glen Steger on the frontstretch. Johnson was up to the task once again on the restart. Caution flew for the fourth time on lap 37 for the stopped car of Medeiros in the turn four wall. 

On the ensuing restart it was Goodale going side-by-side with Johnson out front for nearly a lap and a half before Johnson cleared Goodale off of turn two on lap 38. 

With Johnson leading Anthony Bello and Goodale in third, caution flew for the fourth time for the stopped car of Steger. The first attempt at a restart was negated for an issue deep in the field. On the second attempt at the lap 50 restart it was Bello flying past Johnson into the lead, with Ronnie Williams going to second. 

Not long after Williams got by Bello leading to an extended stretch of green flag laps until caution flew on lap 80. 

With Williams and Bello pitting under caution it moved Rameau to the lead with Rocco in second and George Bessette Jr. in third. 

On the restart Rocco got the run under Rameau to come off turn two with the lead. In turns three and four Rameau drove Rocco up the track to move back to the lead, allowing Craig Lutz to move to second. 

On lap 84 Bessette got by Lutz for second and quickly found the bumper of Rameau in the lead. On lap 85 Bessette made a move under Rameau in turn three that ended with both cars spinning toward the wall and Rameau’s car wrecked. 

It put Lutz out front with Rocco in second and Beers in third. On the lap 85 restart Rocco was able to get by Lutz to make it back into the lead. Just after the restart the brawl began near the turn one end of pit road. Videos showed Bessette being attacked by Rameau and crew members from his team while Bessette was still sitting in his car behind the pit wall. Witnesses said after Bessette was forcefully pulled from his he was struck in the head by someone swinging a helmet at him. A track official said Bessette was taken from the track by ambulance. 

On lap 90 Kyle Bonsignore got by Lutz to take over second, but by then Rocco had checked out on the field. Caution flew on lap 96 to bunch up Rocco and Bonsignore with Beers in third and Williams in fourth. Bonsignore stalked Rocco over the closing laps but couldn’t find a lane to get by him. 


  1. Just Saying says

    So where are all the critics on this Monday morning?

  2. Which critics are you talking about?

  3. First off, Congrats to Keith and his team.
    If the incident went down as described above, then Ramue and the entire team, car owner included should be banned for life from the track. The simple reason being that Ramue physically attacked him while he was in his car, and physically removed him from the car. So many things could have gone terribly wrong there, especially when you add hot headers and nerf bars outside the car. Bessettes crew simply defended their helpless driver. George was injured and left the track in an ambulance. The person who swung the helmet should be charged with A&B W/ deadly weapon(blunt object) at the very least.
    If Rameu had approached him outside the car things would be different. Just lucky his actions didn’t kill the guy. Dragging someone out of their car cannot be tolerated.

  4. Hillary 2024 says

    Will be interesting on how this plays out. I know Rameu was planning on running The haunted 100 and the fall final. Not sure about Martinsville. Will other tracks besides Thompson ban them? Or sanctioning bodies? Would be a no brainer if these were all nascar events and tracks.

  5. The accident on the track was a racing deal whether you think Rameau came down or the 39 drove it in too deep. What happened on pit road was downright assault. Rameau shouldn’t be allowed to race anywhere in New England at minimum, the rest of this season, not that there is much left. At some point, these tracks need to say enough is enough and send a real message that this wont be tolerated.

  6. If it was as described, Rameau should be locked up for assault or worse

  7. I dont condone the Aftermath, but if people keep racing these cars like they cost 100$$ this is going to happen more often. No respect on Track is the root cause of this BS. People in pitt fights can be hurt, but driving like a moron can kill somebody on track.

  8. Well stated Rich no one ever thinks about your statement they all focus at the off track drama.

  9. While I have no direct knowledge of the inner workings of the different tracks and sanctioning bodies that would be involved, given what I’ve seen through the years I doubt Rameau would be suspended anywhere but those tracks/events controlled by the promoter of the World Series. As someone stated if they were all NASCAR tracks/events (or some other sanctioning body for that matter) he’d be sitting at home.

    I’ve seen NASCAR suspend someone and they show up and compete in an unsanctioned event the next weekend. I can’t recall the reverse happening though.

  10. Just Saying says

    I’m thinking Stafford’s not going to let him through the Pit gate, if this was a NASCAR race, he’d be thrown out to infinity and beyond

  11. Enough's Enough says

    C’mon Rich. People fighting like idiots can kill someone just as easily. I am tired of seeing across social media the excuse of “lack of respect on track” justifying these brawls in the pit area. There’s no excuse for conducting oneself in a violent manner. Period. Conversation? Yup no problem. Cuss someone out and walk away? No problem, but this repeated glorification of brawling on pit road have grown far too out of hand.

    These clowns in the industry that think its OK to waltz down to a different garage or pit area and start these brawls should not be allowed back. Promoters need to revaluate their bottom line and forgo the back gate fee for these repeat offenders. It’s endangering officials, its endangering bystanders and its endangering the sport from a big old black eye in the court of public opinion.

  12. As a Driver you have the risk of getting your ass kicked if you do something stupid on track, that is the detterent.

    Also if you lay your hands on somebody you can go to jail, that is the detterent

    Both parties will think twice now

  13. I wouldn’t call what the 1 did as stupid. Aggressive? Yes. But its certainly a move that has been attempted i would guess 1000’s of times over the years., with i am sure many times resulting in a similar result. Attacking a guy in his car is a coward move no matter what happened on the track.

  14. Well, it looks like there’s a whole bunch of stupid happening on the track and therefore a whole bunch of asses need to be kicked.

    Ass kicking appears to be a stupid retarder.

  15. Do you really want to condemn all of racing for these periodic adrenaline fueled fits of bone headed behavior? If you take all the races that are run locally at every track, in every division from regular shows to special events exactly what percentage end in embarrassing and dangerous physical confrontations?
    I’d suggest they be taken and handled individually based on the circumstances. The last major news making brawl was between the Wesson and Kopcik crews in the infield for all to see in person and live on FloRacing at SMS. Wesson didn’t come back in 2023 and Kopcik only occasionally. That happened at a track that has a list of penalties every week they enforce to encourage cleaner racing.
    Rameau got wrecked out of two big races in the same day. Instead of getting big checks they got wrecked cars. You’re never going to stop bad personal decisions that adrenaline fueled drivers are going to make by simple rules enforcement. Mainly because the adrenaline and rage erases all logic. I’d bet anything that Rameau had a hard time believing he was that guy that made that terrible decision as the sun rose Monday morning.

  16. I Got To Agree With Doug. I’m Sure Sam Took A Step Back And Said “Holy Crap, Why Did I Do That” , Just Speculating of coarse.

  17. Forcefully pulling someone from their car, and accosting them resulting in a trip to the hospital should be an automatic lifetime ban. Full stop!

  18. I can’t believe I’m reading some of these post supporting what happened here. This wasn’t a face to face confrontation in the pits after some rough driving that turns into a little one on one fist a cuffs. This was a mob attack that should NEVER happen. Ok Rameau got to his window and laid some swears and a few punches on a helmeted driver ok got your point across. Now George yelling on the radio for help and then getting completely sucker punched from the passenger side of the car and then jumped by multiple people, some armed with a weapon,is a crime. Hope they gotta sell everything and find another hobby.

  19. “I can’t believe I’m reading some of these post supporting what happened here.”

    I had to reread all the comments. I can so no comment from anyone that has said anything that could remotely be interpreted as supportive about what Rameau or anyone connected with him did.

  20. I don’t know Doug I think ” Well it looks like there’s a whole bunch of stupid happening on the track and therefore a whole bunch of asses need to be kicked” and “Rameau got wrecked out of two big races in the same day.Instead of big checks they got wrecked cars” and ” as a driver you have the risk of getting your ass kicked if you do something stupid on the track that is the deterrent” all sound like excuses for the behaviour at the very least.

  21. Let me be clear… there is still no cure or treatment of stupid.

    But there is sarcasm and humor to be had.

  22. Hopefully Rameu gets punishment for his actions. A lifetime ban from Tracks and series would be fitting, as well as any and all criminal charges. We don’t need trouble seeking idiots in racing of any form.

  23. “Rameau got wrecked out of two big races in the same day.Instead of big checks they got wrecked cars”

    I think you took each quote a bit out of context. My contribution above merely a point of information of his mental state not any kind of excuse for his actions.
    I think what you’re most upset about Brian is folks that have not rushed to the same harsh judgement as fast as you. I’d be one of those having faith in the authorities to sort this mess out. The video’s that are available show a real scrum with people swinging at each other, falling down, some people trying to break things up….classic mayhem. One would guess charges will be forthcoming for a number of participants at least I’d hope so considering someone landed in the hospital. If Bessette incurred some kind of lasting injury perhaps a civil suit would be on the table. Interesting how that rarely happens drivers not wanting to be stigmatized in the racing community.
    When this sort of thing happens we’re all emotional and want consequences immediately. Multiplied by several times if you were there and witnessed it. The reality is it just takes time to calmly determine who did what and when.
    Apologies for not being as blood thirsty as you would hope everyone should be but I’m going to wait to see how this is sorted out which should take a while.

  24. A couple posters here do seem like they want to be judge, jury and executioner. We’ll just have to see what decisions are made by the people that matter. I don’t do social media so I can’t look at a phone generated video. It will be a factor whether or not Rameau himself actually did the hitting with the helmet. Also did he personally pull or assist others in the extraction of Bessette from the window opening ? You gotta admit that is pretty bad ass of whoever did it to pull a 140 lb. limp body through a window opening of a modified ! Did Bessette not remember unwritten rule # 1 . If you are involved in an incident on the track where another driver or crew might be mad ; leave your helmet on till you know the danger is passed. Heck if he had left his helmet on and defended himself from inside the car that could have caused his detractors to lose some of their bravery. If the Rameau’s invaded Bessette’s pit , were they allowed “safe” passage to the race car without any of the Bessette crew at least attempting to stop them. It was a very costly weekend for Rameau. Maybe they will decide to leave off racing for a while or just quit for good. That is what some on this thread have said they want. Apologies ahead of time if warranted but ” a trip to the hospital ” don’t really mean much these days as ambulance and rescue squad companies and hospitals err so far on the side of caution they want to take as many people and get them to the hospital for the $$$ and fear of lawyers. Again apologies if proven wrong but ever who pays the ER and ambulance bill will experience more trauma over that than whoever got treated if it was a minor injury.

  25. George didn’t wrecked Rameu on purpose (The video from his car proves this) so….he gets attacked by Rameu and crew for something he didn’t do. If I’m George next time they are on track together George should send Rameu for a ride! Rameu needs to be taught a lesson!

  26. Enough's Enough says

    Doug I took a minute to re-read your posts. I get your point about trying to explain what someone’s mental state would be after getting wrecked out of an event twice in one day. I still strongly feel that isn’t an excuse to bring your team with you down to the opposite end of the infield and commit a hit on someone sitting in the racecar. Rational thinking still needs to be expected.

    Expecting authorities to do anything about this is wishful thinking. It is laughable to think any driver would sue another driver for a fight in the infield. The buck stops at the promoter and sanctioning bodies to police problematic people.

  27. Parker Sisters says

    Makes JB Fortin and Max Zachem look like tiddlywinks…

  28. Whats weird is where is the 1s crew? Anytime you are in a heated wreck where you know tempers are high the team should be ready to defend their driver and protect the car from more damage.

    Spotter Car Owner anybody on a radio all know its coming

  29. Dareal, there is nothing humorous about a driver being forcefully removed from his race car. So many things could have gone horribly wrong resulting in serious injuries or even, god forbid, death. The threat is magnified when you add in hot headers and nerf bars protruding from the car. Even the roll bar which protects the driver can be dangerous in that situation

  30. Rob P., you must be against the 2nd Amendment, right?

    What went wrong was the stupid occupying so much space in the skulls of the idiots that perpetrated this violence. None of this had anything to do with hot headers, nerf bars, roll bars, etc. It was all about the stupidity. Hot headers don’t go after people, nerf bars don’t go after people, roll bars don’t go after people all on their own. People go after people, and they use what they have available to them.

    The thing is, whenever TC took out a car, it was considered funny, his fans went wild, the other driver had it coming, or the other car was in TC’s way. Remember the 3-tap rule? Comply or get wrecked.

    Why some people are not allowed to get away with what others get away with is perplexing.

    The hypocrisy, double standards and selective outrage is beyond perverse.

  31. Dareal, I’m pro 2nd amendment, except for assault weapons which are meant only to kill people.
    Hot headers and nerf bars come into play when your dragging someone from their car. The headers don’t cool instantaneously and you can get burned. The nerf bars can be struck causing injuries. Like I said, so much can go terribly wrong in that situation even the way you grab the person comes into play.

  32. Rob P., if people are stupid enough to attack a car and subject themselves to hot headers, nerf bars, etc. … Darwinism at work. They did it to themselves. They are their own victims.

  33. I poo pooed the extraction danger narrative initially but I see now that was probably the one thing that set this apart. Not the header burning issue. That danger seems minimal the header pipes within the nerf bars toward the bottom. Yanking a person out I sure have never seen or heard of. Young George wiry and young clearly survived it with a good amount of bruising no doubt soon to be added to. Thinking about it, I shudder to thing of all the bone and joint damage such a thing could result in.

  34. Most of the same folks on here that want the electric chair for the Rameau’s and then give a pass to the Bessette’s also want to define what the definition of an assault weapon is and then ban them. The self-rightous with over inflated egos that accept nothing less than their way, cause it has to be the right way.
    I keep up with it pretty good; at least on the asphalt end and Stafford and Thunder Road are in rarefied air as far as short tracks go with car counts and fan support. Most all of the others are on the endangered species watch list. Surely hatred does contaminate it’s container. All of the vitriol being dispersed on social media and other outlets on this incident does absolutely nothing to help racing. My life experiences have shown me that when lawyers start getting involved (I hope they don’t), the only people that make money are the lawyers. Short track racing will have a hard enough time surviving due to external forces in post modern America let alone a civil war where we kill our own.

  35. I’d suggest any discussion of assault weapons be avoided. It’s just one of those deals with strong opinions on each side and no middle ground. It’s kind of irrelevant as well since CT, Mass, NY and NJ ban the weapon so the issue in much of the local area this racing site serves has been decided. Not to mention it’s tinged with politics something we’ve been asked to steer away from which has worked out quite well actually.
    Post modern America or post modernism. Never thought I’d see that in this forum well done. Are external forces always bad that’s a Pandora’s box of debate wouldn’t you agree more appropriate for talk radio. With regard to this specific situation it wouldn’t appear any external forces have had inappropriate negative affects considering how unique the the confrontation was.
    I do believe it’s Miller time.

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