Social Media Knee Jerk Napalming Of Short Track Racing Only Damages The Sport Further And Further 

(The article below is a RaceDayCT column – The views expressed in this column are solely the opinion of the writer)

Track drying efforts on Sunday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

Sometimes you have to wonder, is racing the only sport where the people who claim to love it the most also seem hell bent on destroying it? 

What happened Sunday at Stafford Speedway was just bad all around. There’s no sugarcoating anything that led up to the NAPA Spring Sizzler 100 being postponed to May 10. It was just a day where things went from bad to worse to awful and at the end of the day everybody lost. The track suffered, the competitors suffered and the fans suffered. 

The cliff notes version. Features started at 4:15 pm. The SK Modified feature was completed. The SK Light Modifieds took to the track and after eight laps of a 20-lap feature a steady rain forced track officials into weather delay mode. From there, Stafford management tried for four hours to get the track back in hopes of running the NAPA Spring Sizzler 100. 

At 9:45 pm, with rain falling once again, track management made the decision to end efforts for the night and announced the NAPA Spring Sizzler 100 would be postponed to May 10. 

Even before the decision was made to postpone the event, social media was ablaze with people launching irate diatribes directed at track management. 

Were some decisions made Sunday that certainly Stafford management wishes they could do over? Absolutely. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. And conversely, it’s pretty easy to play criticizing Monday Morning Quarterback after the mess is over. 

Was some of the criticism on social media fair? Sure it was. Could most of the criticism be categorized as unhinged fantasy nonsense? Unfortunately, yes, way too much of it. 

What was disgusting was reading comments portraying the track management as being somehow out to ruin the lives of competitors and race fans. As if track management exists in the hope that days like Sunday will happen so they can make all their customers miserable. 

Sadly, it was also a very similar scene on social media after the postponement of the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series event on April 6 at the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway. Another event where weather made for a long and trying day at the track and in the end race fans turned to social media to unfairly insult and degrade the promoters of the event.

We live in a world now of social media knee-jerk napalming of businesses. It’s a practice that’s sometime gruesome to watch. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a short track or a restaurant or a local hardware store. We live in a world where social media has become the bullhorn available to everyone and that can be a dangerous thing. The local restaurant where I got a take-out order from forget to put napkins in the bag, I’m going to go on 17 Facebook forums and destroy them. And what invariably happens? The social media comment section group riot ensues and grows wilder and wilder. I went there last week and it took 15 minutes to get a table. They suck. … I was there Tuesday and the hostess frowned at me. I hate them. … My cousin went there and a waitress tried to stab her with a steak knife. 

In the big picture world of short track racing, it’s all bad when social media blows up with a focused vengeance like what has taken place since Sunday evening. 

In the realm of short track racing facilities in this country, Stafford Speedway is considered the benchmark of what most other facilities want to be. They are that because of the efforts they’ve made for decades in always trying to make their facility the best place for competitors to compete and for fans to attend events at. The efforts they’ve made in those areas have made them a track that almost every other track wants to be like. 

If you’re involved in short track racing and love short track racing being part of your life, you damn well better be about finding a way to make short track racing grow. The dirty little secret is short track racing needs to grow if you want it to be around in 10 years. 

Using social media to paint the management of one of the true gems of short track racing as some sort of group of tag sale cubic zirconia selling ripoff artists not only hurts that track, but hurts all of short track racing. 

Stafford is at the forefront of growing the sport. Any objective observer understands that in the realm of southern New England short track racing, Stafford is most likely the track where new fans will plant their roots of affection for short track racing. It’s the place most likely to be the welcomer of the new family that has never been to a track. The new family that might go to Stafford a few times and find a love for the sport and may just then decide at some point to visit other tracks and spread that support. That’s how the sport needs to grow right now. The sport is actually beyond desperate in need of that type of growth right now.

So when a significant portion of the fanbase that claims to love the sport turns to social media to launch unhinged and often untrue criticisms of a track and its management, all they’re doing is sticking a knife in their own back. 

Think about that family that has never been to a short track and they just happen to read some of the posts on social media about Sunday at Stafford. They read the comments from people saying the Arute family is just in business to rob competitors and fans. And that person that has never bought a ticket to the track, that was maybe thinking about visiting the track … well, they’re probably going to change their mind when they see the people who do go to the track saying they’re being robbed and abused by track management. 

And in the big picture, short track racing suffers for it. One more lost possible fan for a sport that is painfully desperate to put fans back in the grandstands. And like what happened Sunday, nobody wins and the sport is just left bruised because of it. Keep that in mind the next time you’re ready to hit send on that angry comment on social media.


  1. Martin tomascak says

    The only thing they could of done was knowing the forecast would of been to run the mods first hold off on the regular divisions it’s much easier to have a makeup then a touring division

  2. Good points Shawn. A good friend that owns a business always tells me that it is harder to get new customers than it is to keep current customers, therefore, take good care of your current customers.

    Look, Stafford was in a hard place. The timing of the weather couldn’t have been worse. It wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did.

    We are living in an age of relentlessly playing the victim card. Everyone has their finger on a hair trigger ready to shoot at anything. Your missing napkin example was perfect. The easy lives that these people must lead to be so ready to complain about trivial stuff is exhausting to listen to. I wish my life was so easy.

  3. When you have all of those people there, both fans and teams, you owe it to them to get the main event in. that didn’t happen Sunday. These are the people you need to worry about. Not the ones that may or may not come hours later, the ones only looking to tune in on Flo for the main and nothing else, or the people that still communicate with the outside world by carrier pigeons and wouldn’t know of a scheduling change.

    Say what you want about the forecast and what not. During the pit party, it was clear the rain was coming. This wasn’t a pop-up storm. I understand not wanting to change a schedule up for something that may or may not happen several hours from now. But it was beginning to stare them in the face at this point.

    The SK race green flag to the time of the last yellow in the SKL race was about 1:15.

    The 2023 sizzler, from green flag to checker, took ~1:22.
    The 2022 sizzler, from green flag to checker, took ~1:21.

    There was a very realistic chance to get the entire race in without even changing the pit party if they just scrambled the tour modified teams and sent them out first. These are darn good teams, they would have been ready on short notice.

    I would argue they made the same mistakes in 2021, the last NWMT Sizzler. I remember it being very cold and windy, with rain later in the night in the forecast. After a messy SKL feature and an old timer exhibition, it rains in the middle of the NWMT race. There are delays and it ends up being called early IIRC.

    And then there’s how long it took to call the race. It was clear to anyone that was looking at the radar, 9-10pm start was the absolute earliest the race would go out, which was very un likely. Expecting your teams and fans to hang around that long for a race that very possibly wouldn’t end until midnight on a work night is just asinine.

    Now, there shouldn’t be name-calling and stuff like that. But Stafford really needs to take a lesson here. Probably the one lesson they actually need to learn out of everything a racetrack does.

  4. NH MOD CHASER says

    Great read Shawn.WHATEVER desition Stafford would have made on Sunday people would have bitched.On Monday everyone is a track promotor and knows best. As race fans we are lucky to have the Arute family so vested in the sport we all supposably love.The people throwing stones will be the first to CRY if the track ever shut down.Thank you for all your hard work with racedayct

  5. You have to have thick skin as a track owner promoter- Jack Arute was best at it but he always listened to the competitors. One thing about social media is you can learn from comments about your show good and bad. Stafford has the best show period. See you Friday May 10th. Rain Sucks!

  6. Dr Robert Neville says

    I want thank Bob Charland and team for their kind gesture to hand out sizzler T shirts during the pit party, a lot of them, as well as all the teams for supporting that part of the day. My cousins brought their kids and that was the highlight of their day and something they will remember. Their kids didn’t care about me or the team I support, but they really appreciated the attention they got from teams like the Fearns who came back with their cars on an off day.

  7. Jeff Williams says

    If I remember correctly, Stafford is willing to go beyond the call to try and get the race in. I appreciate that as a fan and as a former/kinda spotter. I believe in 2008, the second Tour race at Stafford had rain all night. It was a waiting game like this. Being a Friday night and getting ready to hit the stride of the season, they tried and tried. We got done at around 12:45ish and we were out of tech at 2:15ish. It’s unfortunate and sometimes it has to happen when there are other circumstances like all these drivers having other places to race in the coming weeks. As I called them on X, the keyboard warriors/worriers were in full affect and there is nothing worse than a fair-weather fan who goes on social media and blasts the track that is working hard to make everyone happy. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen and it makes the track look bad even though they have no reason to feel that way. Good points. It’s going to happen again somewhere else this year, so I hope people grow a brain.

  8. Here’s a website whose participants praise Stafford. Loves that Stafford told the NWMT to stick it. Consider Stafford to be one of the best run short tracks.

    The track is at the mercy of the weather and those fans turned on the track every way they could. No mercy.

    Yeah idiots. That was the result the track was hoping for.

  9. Well said Shawn

  10. Marshall says

    It sucks for the fans who didn’t get to watch the Sizzler, but everyone who claims the schedule can easily change probably has no idea how to actually run a race with multiple divisions. The cars are there I guess, so obviously they can just go out and race several hours early at the drop of a hat. And all those SK and SKL teams that spend a lot to show up for a small payout should be fine with missing their features- they’re just not as important as the open teams and will have to deal with added expense for a make-up show. As for the pit party, count me as someone who hopes it’s never cancelled. No other major sport lets their fans just walk behind the scenes like that without paying TONS of money.

  11. and the Tour goes on and on .... says

    The Stafford speedway Blind loyalists found out who Stafford really cares about, Stafford.

  12. And the Tour goes on and on …,
    How about a little more context to explain your comment?

  13. Suitcase Jake says

    good comments and points made, I towed in from Pa, 5 hour tow which is fine for us to see the Greatest Race in the History of Spring. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the race we came to see … Ok 500 bucks down the drain so will have to watch on Flo in May … So it’s a different deal than just driving home and returning in may for the locals… The Smart Mod Tour usually runs their features first , which we saw in person at Tri County Speedway & Hickory Speedway in NC… I am sure Stafford being at the forefront of entertaining the Fans will learn from this and adjust things in the April scheduling of the Sizzler in the Future.. I would like to see it as the 1st Feature going forward so we ALL can have a GREAT TIME next April..

  14. Fast Eddie says

    Shawn, thank-you for the verbal dope-slap we needed in this circumstance. There was actually a track in Ohio that closed because the owner couldn’t deal with social network destruction any longer; proof that it can happen. We need to think about the fact that no one is perfect, and no one can neccessarily make the best decision on short notice for a given situation all the time. It was a not-so-great day for all of us, plain and simple. Bottom line, we need to be supportive and positive of the sport we love and hope it stays alive!

  15. Marshall says

    @Suitcase Jake I prefer the feature to be last. There should be a buildup. A couple years ago I went to Thunder Road to watch the Tri-Track race and it was first on the day’s schedule. It felt anticlimactic.

  16. As a former crew member who raced at Stafford for more than 20 years, I have to defend the Arutes. I live 17 miles north of the track. Saturday on the 6pm news the forecast was for a few spot shower early in the day. We never saw a drop of rain Sunday.
    I remember years ago, when they didn’t call a race, and hoped the rain stopped so they could dry the track, sometimes they got lucky allot of times they didn’t, and we’d sit there till 9ish then they’d call it. Pissed off allot of people. In recent years they’ve called the race early in the day, which again was tricky. They would call the race only to have the weather turn in to a beautiful day. They made the effort Sunday, and it didn’t work out. No big deal, get over it

  17. Crazy in NY says

    [No big deal, get over it]

    says a guy from 17 miles north. typical. Hey Rob P come join us for a Lancaster rainout sometime…..( don’t travel that far?)

  18. and the Tour goes on and on .... says

    Well Shawn I have read here that Stafford is all about the Teams and the Fans and it appears that Stafford put themselves first with their pit party during which I bet concession sales were good with a full crowd.
    If Thompson did that the Stafford blind loyalists would be trashing the place saying Stafford would never do that. As for angry fans, You are not angry if you’ll be returning to the track and all of us reading and commenting here will be returning.
    Or I could be wrong about all of it.

  19. and the Tour goes on and on …,
    You think Stafford has a pit party to sell food? Really? So you think they go through all of the logistical headaches they go through to make that pit party happen so they can sell hot dogs and ice cream? You’re serious? They could just have an intermission to do that. They have a pit party to grow the sport. They have a pit party so fans can connect with their favorite driver. So little kids can shake the hand of the person they want on the track. It’s a way to grow the sport, to make new fans to help drivers promote themselves and their sponsors. It’s a positive and worthy effort, not some oddly conspired plan to sell hot dogs. You’re stretching real far in how hard you’re trying to trash them.

  20. and the Tour goes on and on .... says

    Lapses in racing at race tracks are not to sell the sport. From when I first went as a 4 yr old in 1975 until today. That’s is why you hear track announcers mention food and drink over and over…..And I totally understand that businesses are there to make money and I am not trying to trash anyone, I go to the place 3-6 times a year but when I am looking at the radar on my phone and can tell rain is 2 hours away I can’t help but go Really?!?!
    That is how I see it as a paying fan. If I’m wrong its not the first time.

  21. Old Mod Fan says

    I was there wearing sunglasses all day on Saturday and up until 5 pm on Sunday. Been there for many sizzlers & drizzlers over the last 51 years. It wasn’t cold! This was a first time situation and it probably won’t happen again. Stafford will make adjustments. BTW: I went home and turned on FLO to see what was happening and was pleasantly surprised to see vintage racing events. So nice to see Phil Rhondeau, Herb Bennett, and Teddy going at it with Bo.

  22. Art Roraback says

    I was able to get to Stafford on Sunday and am unable to go on May 10th. I have no problem with that and will be watching it on Flo. The fact that the rainchecks will entitle ticket holders to see a regular Friday show ( I assume they won’t run heats) is an absolutely marvelous thing to do. As for people complaining….otherwise insignificant people love to bitch on the internet as it makes them feel important. As a race fan I am awed but the remarkable job that the Arute family does to promote their facility, their race teams and the sport in general. Thanks for a great article.

  23. Crazy, I misspoke. Everyone knows no one can predict the weather. Sorry you traveled so far. I’ve been there. Drive for hours only to get rained out. At least Stafford is honoring the tickets on the 10th, hope you can attend. My point was that bitching about it accomplishes nothing. In reality Stafford didn’t have to honor the tickets the show was more than 75% over, and the 10th will be a loss for them financially. Just goes to show that the Arutes do consider the fans and competition when making hard decisions. Sorry I offended you.

  24. The teacher's pet says

    So posting repeated negative opinion pieces on this site over the years and linking them on social media is okay IF they’re directed at a certain other track, the WMT, etc. Yet folks that question Stafford for mismanaging their biggest event are somehow napalming and not growing the sport?

  25. The Teacher’s Pet,
    I would think someone with the name “The Teacher’s Pet” would do better with reading. Nowhere did I say people shouldn’t be allowed to be critical or offer opinions on social media on matter. But there’s constructive criticism and then there’s just posting hateful, inaccurate idiocy. Posting over and over again that track management conspired strategically to steal from fans or competitors or that they purposely did things on Sunday for their own financial gain crossed a line that went far beyond constructive criticism of fair opinion.

  26. Knuckles Mahoney says

    It’s in peoples nature to bitch nowadays. I just know this. If i’m travelling a long ways to see a race, I make sure 100% there is no chance of rain. Local races I will take the chance on an iffy weathr forecast.

  27. Crazy in NY says

    Rob P , No worries. It just looked like some close to Stafford (I wish I was only 17 miles) may not get the aggravation of those of us that have hrs of travel 3.70 gas invested. My beef and I agree some people have written some truly stupid comments, is that No attempt at adjusting the show order when they had a head start with no LCQ and could have scrubbed the pit party ( yes I agree they are great for the fans I’m all for them ) but not when a radar clearly showed what was coming and it’s duration. It was pretty close to being spot on. I have experience at tracks that DO adjust when confronted with the inevitable but even more effort is needed when a traveling series is in town. Now..I fully understand it’s a Stafford production but it plays like a series. IT IS a big deal for teams to travel now days. Time and $$$ plus there are now other conflicts outside the cosey confines of CT. It’s still my opinion and others apparently that the show ( Sizzler 100) could have been run. Doesn’t make me a hater unless your totally closed minded. SMS is still my favo Mod place. And….I’m coming back….May 10th. Race on!!!

  28. Rafter fan says

    By planning to run the Sizzler as the first feature on 5/10, Stafford appears to have “learned a lesson”(?).

    The Speedbowl could experience a Sizzler-like situation on Saturday night, (if it rains), as the MRS feature is scheduled as the last event in a full day/night of activity. Of course, Sunday is likely available as a rain date (with fewer other events already scheduled on Sunday).

  29. Not so long ago, when the Almighty NWMT was in town there were times when it looked like rain, so NASCAR would insist that their precious tour be run first. All this accomplished was to piss off all the weekly competitors and their crews, basically the ones who really are the tracks life blood. As this policy continued car counts slowly faded to the point where features had less cars than a typical heat race would. I remember the time when the late model race started 26 cars and had the 21 means 21 LCQ, and still almost a dozen cars went home. Car counts seem to be on the rise since Stafford divorced NASCAR.
    The lesson; take care of those who raced there week after week, year after year, and don’t cater to those who only race once or twice a year.

  30. Hillary 2024 says

    Already got some guy on FB complaining about Waterford forcing it’s weekly competitors that have their features on Sunday run heat races on Saturday when they know it’s going to rain on Sunday.

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