Category Archives: Stafford Motor Speedway

Kyle Ellwood Teams With Paul French For 2020 SK Light Season at Stafford

(Stafford Springs, CT)—With the 2020 NASCAR Weekly Racing season less than 100 days away, another new combination has been announced in Stafford Speedway’s SK Light ranks.  Riverhead, NY native Kyle Ellwood will team with longtime SK Light car owner/driver Paul French to drive the #2 Bakaj Construction Chevrolet.  Ellwood will return to full-time weekly racing after making 25 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts from 2014-2019.

“I’m excited to get started with Paul French,” said Ellwood.  “I met him last year when we bought a car from him, he helped me run the car in the last race at Thompson and we finished fifth after starting last.  After that race Paul mentioned that maybe we could do something next season and he ended up asking me if I wanted to drive his car at Stafford.  I really have to give a big thank you to Paul for giving me this chance.  This is a really great opportunity for me and we’re looking for any marketing partners who would like to jump on board a fast race car.”

Out of Ellwood’s 25 career NWMT starts, 8 of those races came at Stafford.  Although Ellwood’s best finish in those 8 starts was a 14th in the Stafford 125 in May of 2015, the experience that he gained in those races will be invaluable as he prepares to step down to a lower horsepower car at the Connecticut half-mile facility.

“Having seen the track before is definitely going to help,” said Ellwood.  “I know where to run and I have laps around Stafford, it’s just going to be a matter of adjusting to a lower speed car and trying to keep the momentum up. This is a great opportunity that will help me take a step back from working on my own Tour car and focus more on setting the car up.  Paul has really fast cars and he does his homework, so I’m looking forward to doing some racing on a weekly basis. This will get me off Long Island and racing at one of the most prestigious tracks in America.”

One reason for Ellwood to be excited about the 2020 season at Stafford is the past performance of SK Light cars that were prepared by French.  French has won races at Stafford with himself behind the wheel as well as Mark Bakaj, Joey Ferrigno, and Joe Graf, Jr.  Ellwood has plans on continuing the winning ways and if he can make a strong enough start to his 2020 campaign, even challenging for the track championship.

“I hope to win some races this season,” said Ellwood.  “I don’t see why we shouldn’t be competitive right out of the box.  The car was really good coming off the trailer at Thompson and Paul puts a lot of effort into everything. Hopefully we can improve as the year goes on and with the crew help we have, I think we can be a competitive car.  I’d like to run for the championship but by the same token you have to start the year off on the right foot so we’ll see how things go and take it one race at a time.  Usually if you have a good start to the season that leads to better things.  I think this can be a pretty good year and we can have some success.”

With Ellwood having already driven parts of 6 seasons on the NASCAR Modified Tour as well as driving full blown modifieds on a weekly level at Riverhead, some might view Ellwood’s move to the SK Lights as a step backwards but Ellwood says it’s anything but that.

“I would race shopping karts with motors on them if I could, it doesn’t matter to me what I drive,” said Ellwood.  “I’d like to be racing 4 or 5 times a week.  Any opportunity is an opportunity and it doesn’t matter to me what it is as long as I can get out on the track and compete.  There’s 30 cars at Stafford every week that you have to beat to win races and that’s what I want to do.  They say that Stafford is where the best drivers are and I want to see if I can be one of the best drivers.”

Racing every Friday night at Stafford in the SK Lights won’t be the only racing that Ellwood has planned for the 2020 season.  Although his plans are not yet set in stone, Ellwood will still make several Modified Tour starts and he has hopes to be able to race in the Open Modified 80’s that Stafford Speedway will host on May 15, June 12, July 10, and August 21.

“I’m not sure of all the details yet but we’re still going to run a couple of Tour races this year with my family owned car,” said Ellwood.  “I’d also like to see if we can put a deal together to run the Open 80 shows at Stafford, those races look like a lot of fun.”

The 2020 SK Light season kicks off with the 49th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® on April 24-26.  Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now by calling the Speedway Box Office 860-684-2783 or online at www.staffordspeedway.com.

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Ted Christopher Drive for Safety Initiative Launched for 2020 Race Season at Stafford

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Quinn Christopher, wife of the late Stafford Speedway legend Ted Christopher, has launched the Ted Christopher Drive for Safety Initiative for the 2020 season at Stafford. The program, aimed to increase driver safety awareness, is donating safety gear to all drivers registered for the 2020 race season at Stafford Speedway. 

Funded by the Ted Christopher Memorial, the Ted Christopher Drive for Safety Initiative will provide eligible drivers with either a Nomex undershirt, Carbonx single layer head sock, or helmet skirt. Also participating drivers will be entered into a drawing to win a fully custom, Leaf Racewear, double-layer, pro series race suit, including custom design, custom fit, and embroidery. The fire suit will be awarded at the annual TC 13 SK Modified® Shootout scheduled for July 10th. 

“Teddy is my inspiration for this,” explained Quinn Christopher.  “He always told me that being safe while racing was important to him and he would spend whatever he needed in order to accomplish that.” 

A Stafford Speedway competitor for over 30 years, Ted Christopher is remembered as one of the greatest all-time Stafford drivers. Christopher scored 131 wins including 109 SK Modified® wins to go along with 9 SK Modified® track championships, leading the way in all three categories.

Though Ted will always be remembered as one of the best on track, many remember his character and passion for racing off the track serving as a mentor and hero for many young drivers over the years. Christopher was a big proponent of driver safety throughout his many seasons at Stafford, known for sharing that philosophy with other drivers. This memory of Ted pushed Quinn to develop the safety initiative.

“I want drivers to take safety seriously when they race. It is not only protection for them but keeps them safe for their family and friends, which was Teddy’s priority always,” continued Christopher.  ”I’ve heard of race car drivers being in accidents and getting burned. Using the money from the Ted Christopher Memorial will not only honor and keep his memory alive, it will hopefully prevent such injuries to drivers at Stafford Motor Speedway.”

“I want to thank Leaf Racewear for helping me with this initiative,” said Christopher.  “Teddy had a long-standing business relationship with Leaf for many years.  More than once, thank God, Teddy was fortunately wearing their gear while racing.”

To participate, drivers must be registered to compete in one of Stafford Speedway’s five weekly racing divisions for the 2020 season. Eligible drivers can complete an online form to select their safety equipment and corresponding size. All safety equipment will be distributed at the 2020 NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler scheduled for April 25th and 26th.  

“I appreciate the racing community for continuing to remember and honor Teddy with their race tributes like the TC shootout at Stafford,” continued Quinn Christopher. “It has also been nice to see many of Teddy’s friends and fans at the racetrack over the past two years sharing their favorite TC stories with me. It truly means a lot to know how much he is loved, admired and missed.”

To participate in the Ted Christopher Drive for Safety Initiative drivers must be registered to compete at Stafford Speedway for the 2020 season and are required to complete an online form available here: Ted Christopher Drive for Safety Online Form. Submissions for the program are due before March 1, 2020.

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Legend Cars Champion Peter Bennett Stepping Up to Stafford’s SK Lights

(Stafford Springs, CT)—With four Legend Cars championships to his name from 2017-2019, Cromwell, CT native Peter Bennett will step into SK Light competition at Stafford Speedway to challenge for Rookie of the Year honors in 2020.  Bennett raced with the Nutmeg Kart Club from 2010-2016 before moving into Legend Cars where he won the championship at Bethel Speedway in 2017, scored a double at Waterford in 2018 winning the Wednesday and Saturday championships, and won the Seekonk Speedway championship this past season.  With four championships over the past three years, Bennett was ready for a new racing challenge.

“SK Lights weren’t really in my plans until I wrapped up the 2019 season,” said Bennett.  “I had 3 consecutive Legend Cars championship seasons so the time was right to move up and find a new challenge.  I know Stafford is one of the most competitive tracks in the Northeast so I definitely have my work cut out for me.  Every time you’re a rookie the most obvious goal is to win Rookie of the Year and that’s probably going to be our primary goal this season.  I know there’s a few pretty good drivers moving up from Street Stocks so I’m sure it’s going to be a great race for Rookie of the Year and I’m excited to be part of that.  I had a lot of success winning championships in the Legend Cars and I’d love to say I’m going to run for the championship in the SK Lights, but I’ve never driven a modified before so this is going to be a huge learning curve for me and I’m planning on taking things one race at a time.”

Bennett purchased the Paul French owned #76 SK Light modified that Mark Bakaj drove to three wins over the course of the 2018 & 2019 seasons.

“It’s never easy buying a racecar, it’s a lot more complex than buying a street car,” said Bennett.  “Reputation and performance is important and Mark (Bakaj) won a race last season and 2 races the year before and it ran pretty competitively whenever he drove it, so that was a big factor in choosing that car to buy.  I’ve been busy taking the car apart and going through it to learn as much as I can about the chassis and Paul (French) has been helping me out with that.  I’m super excited to get on track at Stafford and see what it’s all about and how the car feels.  I have a lot of work left to do and I’m counting down the days to the open practices and the Sizzler.”

Bennett has just announced that Shoreline Coatings of North Branford, CT has signed on to be the primary sponsor of his #50 machine for the 2020 season.

“Shoreline Coatings is going to powder coat the car for me in the next couple of weeks,” said Bennett.  “It’s actually great for me because now I have time to strip the entire car down and learn it inside and out.  I’ll be pushing for more sponsors as we get closer to the Sizzler but Shoreline Coatings was the first to step up for me and I’m excited to have them on board with us.”

In addition to French, Bennett can also look to longtime friend and Stafford regular Chris Bagnall for advice.  Bagnall just completed his rookie season in the SK Light division after racing in the Street Stock division at Stafford from 2014-2018.

“I’ve known Chris Bagnall for a while and he was probably the main guy who convinced me to move into SK Lights this year,” said Bennett.  “He’s been showing me what I need to do and answer any questions I might have.  To be honest, I’m not much of a mechanic so there’s going to be a lot of learning about setting the car up and learning all the ins and the outs of a full size car rather than working on a smaller Legend Car.”

Bennett comes into the 2020 season with no driving experience behind the wheel of a modified but has seen the success that other Legend Cars competitors have had racing both SK Modifieds® and SK Lights at Stafford.  Bennett will also be looking to get as much seat time as possible before the season gets underway the weekend of April 24-26 for the 49th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®.

“The first couple open practice sessions before the season starts are going to be huge for me to get as much seat time as possible,” said Bennett.  “Hopefully my Legend Cars experience will help put me in a good spot and lay a good foundation for me.  I know a lot of drivers have moved up from Legend Cars and had success so that gives me a lot of confidence.  I might not be blazing fast my first time out, but if I’m patient I can be there when the time comes down the road.  Guys like Teddy Hodgdon, Stephen Kopcik, Cory DiMatteo, Mike Christopher, and Steven Chapman, I’ve raced against them in Legend Cars and seeing them out there with the success they’ve had gives me confidence for the future.  I believe in my driving abilities and it’s just going to be a matter of getting comfortable in the car and keeping things clean every week.  I never had a DNF in my 3 years of Legend Cars and if I can do that again in the SK Lights, I think I’d be doing all right.”

The 2020 SK Light season kicks off with the 49th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® on April 24-26.  Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now by calling the Speedway Box Office 860-684-2783 or online at www.staffordspeedway.com.

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.