Category Archives: Stafford Motor Speedway

Meet “The Mayor” Joey Ferrigno

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Chances are most fans of Stafford Motor Speedway are very familiar with SK Light driver Joey Ferrigno.  The East Hartford native often referred to as “The Mayor” made his first start in 2003 and he has been racing at Stafford full-time since 2004 .  But for those who may be unfamiliar, Ferrigno has amassed quite an impressive racing resume over his career, winning a Street Stock championship in 2005 and notching 25 career wins to date in three different divisions.  For all that he has accomplished in his career, Ferrigno forged an unusual path for himself.

Unlike many young drivers of today, Ferrigno didn’t come from a racing family or have a background that saw him get started racing in go karts or quarter midgets at an early age.  Ferrigno was introduced to racing through his babysitter and a house that happened to be on his paper route in East Hartford.

“I was probably around 8, 9, 10 years old and Bob Georgiades’ modified car was on my paper route,” said Ferrigno”.  “I would deliver my newspapers and then hang around at the end of their driveway and watch them work on the car until one day they invited me inside and let me do jobs like vacuum rubber out of the car and bang out dents and it all started from there.  I guess I can admit this now, when I was 12 and 13 years old, someone from the crew would sign me into the pits and I started helping them out at the track in the pits because those guys were always short on help at the track.  And even before I started hanging out with the Georgiades crew, my neighbor, who was my babysitter, was actually Wayne Bellefleur’s sister-in-law and she would take me to Stafford on Friday nights from time to time and I would hang out some in Wayne’s shop so I was always around racing even through it wasn’t in my family.”

Once Ferrigno started to become a crew member and work on race cars, the itch to drive began to take hold.  Ferrigno began to save the money he earned from his paper route and mowing lawns during the summer so he could one day start to put a car together for himself.  Ferrigno’s first car was an enduro car and several weeks after he got his driver’s license when he turned 16, Ferrigno was in for a rude awakening in his introduction to racing.

“When I was about to turn 16, John Landry from Georgiades’ crew gave me a street car, I think it was his mom’s old car, and gave me a bunch of roll bar tubing and a welder and told me to turn it into an enduro car if I was serious about going racing,” said Ferrigno.  “I ran my first race a couple weeks after I got my driver’s license and 8 laps into that first race the engine blew up.  At that point with all the time and money I had put into the car between putting the car together and safety equipment like the firesuit, helmet, and seat, I called the junkyard and they had an engine sitting on the shelf that would fit my car.  For a couple hundred bucks, that ended up being my first engine change.”

After one season of enduro racing, Ferrigno put another enduro car together and raced it at Waterford in both the enduro class and the Wednesday night X Car class as well as taking the car to upstate New York to go racing on ice.

“John Landry did some ice racing with his enduro car so I took my car and went with him a couple of times,” said Ferrigno.  “It was something to do during the winter and they have all different kinds of cars and tire combinations that you can run.  It ranges from ice racing tires to street tires, and whatever car and engine combination you show up with, they go from sprint cars and world of outlaws cars right down to homebuilt cars.  One thing I remember about that is I think I was the only idiot there without windows or a heater core in my car so whenever I was side by side with another car, the snow roost from their tires would get thrown into my car through the window.”

Ferrigno’s enduro racing also helped him establish contacts to the broader racing world through C.J. D’Addario and Legend Cars that would eventually lead to Ferrigno driving a school bus that was on fire to victory in a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I raced with C.J. D’Addario in enduros and he moved south to be a Legend Cars set up guy in 2007-2008 and he became pretty big down there,” said Ferrigno.  “I was able to go down south to help him out a few times and that opened up doors to make a lot of connections in the racing industry that have helped me out over the years.  It’s pretty cool to go from a kid with a paper route watching Bob Georgiades work on his car to being able to walk around the Cup garage area at Charlotte Motor Speedway and have people come up to me just to say hi.  The legend cars connection also helped me land a spot in a school bus race before the Legend Cars Million race at Charlotte that Daniel Hemric won and I won that race on fire.  I got hooked with another bus which split the radiator and it was throwing transmission fluid up in the air.  The bus caught fire and there were guys coming over the radio saying ’87 bus stop, 87 bus you’re on fire and messing up our track, stop the bus!’ but I could see the checkered flag and I thought ‘I’m going to win this thing!’ so I took the checkered flag on fire.  I actually only got the trophy from that race last year because they didn’t give me the trophy that night because of delayed live TV coverage of the Legends car race.”

Ferrigno had his sights set on racing a DARE Stock car (now Street Stock) at Stafford on a weekly basis. and he made one start in 2003 before purchasing a Frank L’Etoile chassis car from Carl Holmgren, Jr.  Ferrigno began his Stafford career with just himself and a high school friend for a crew, but that didn’t slow him down at all as he won 2 races and finished 2nd in points in 2004 and he won the championship with 3 wins in 2005.

“I knew I wanted to drive a DARE car at Stafford and I got offered to drive someone’s car a couple of times before I bought my first car from Carl Holmgren, Jr.,” said Ferrigno.  “I had no idea what I was doing with the car so I was going off of what I had learned from helping Bob and Carl.  They gave me a lot of input but going to the track, it was just me and a buddy of mine from high school working on the car.  We finished second in points my first year and won the championship the second year so I figured I was halfway decent and wanted to keep on going racing at Stafford.”

After winning the championship in 2005, Ferrigno transitioned to the Limited Late Model division for the 2006 season.  Ferrigno ran 3 seasons and scored 3 wins with his best points finish being fourth in 2008.   The Limited Late Model stretch of Ferrigno’s career were statistically the worst seasons of his time at Stafford and at the conclusion of the 2008 season, Ferrigno’s career almost came to a permanent end.

“I was helping Scott Garrity with his Late Model car and he was moving to Florida and wasn’t taking the car with him so I bought his car and turned it into a Limited,” said Ferrigno.  “I raced that for a couple of years before I ran out of money.  I always wanted to stay racing.  I was a dumb kid with a credit card with no limit so I would go racing with my credit card and I would pay off whatever I could month to month.  At the end of the 2008 season, Bank of America ended up acquiring MBNA and they put a cap on my card to $500 over what I owed and jacked up my interest rate to 29%.  It took me 3 years to pay that debt off and save up enough to get back into racing.”

With no ride for the 2009 season, Ferrigno attended the Spring Sizzler® at Stafford to help out friends in the paddock area and watch some racing.  Fate intervened in the form of Stafford Speedway COO Mark Arute, who stopped to chat with Ferrigno in the paddock area.

“I remember showing up to the Spring Sizzler and Mark Arute saw me and asked me what I was doing and why I looked so depressed and I told him I was out of money and can’t afford to race,” said Ferrigno.  “Mark told me they didn’t have a pace car driver and he tossed me the keys to the pace car and told me to drive and that ended up turning into a three-year gig.”

Although he was in the middle of paying himself out of debt, Ferrigno stayed busy racing with friends behind the wheel of a Porsche 944 in the 24 Hours of LeMons series.

“At that same time a friend of mine from enduros was getting into 24 hours of LeMons so we put a car together for Stafford and we ran Loudon and a couple of other races with that car,” continued Ferrigno.

After 3 years of driving the Stafford pace car, Ferrigno had finally paid off his debt and was in position to reestablish himself into the realm of driving.  Ferrigno purchased a 602 crate engine and an SK Light from Mike Liseo prior to the beginning of the 2012 season and has campaigned it every year since.  Ferrigno has adapted nicely from full fendered cars to the world of open wheels, notching 16 SK Light feature wins, one win away from the all-time mark of 17 held by fellow SK Light driver Chris Matthews and he has been in the top-10 of the SK Light points standings every year with a best finish of 2nd in 2016.

“Mike Liseo had a second car but no engine so he told me if I put a motor in the car we would work on putting the car together so I could race that if his son Dylan didn’t need a backup car,” said Ferrigno.  “I ended up buying the car before the season started and that’s when I first got hooked up with Paul French and I was spotting at the time for Nicole Morgillo and her father helped me out with some parts.  It was weird getting used to the traction with the SK Light and it took a couple of weeks for my brain to agree with my foot for how long you can stay in the throttle because the car was going to stick.  Plus I remember always being the first guy to say real race cars have fenders but once I got the hang of it, I really liked SK Light racing.”

After winning 10 races from 2014-2015, the past three years have seen leaner times for Ferrigno.  In those three years Ferrigno has 2 wins, a total of 8 top-5 finishes, and 2019 was his first winless season since his partial 2006 season in the Limited Late Model division.  Despite those stats, Ferrigno remains as determined as ever to get back to the front of the pack.

“It’s been frustrating chasing things with the car to try to get back to where we once were but we’re always giving it our all,” said Ferrigno.  “The goal is always to get back to the good days.  We have a new engine in the car and over the winter we’ve changed up the suspension to try to make the car more modern.  The car is 20 years old and I’ve been driving it for 10 so it’s been tough to keep it up to date with some of the newer chassis that are out there.  Our goal for this season was and still is to come out swinging and try to get back into victory lane.”

From enduros to DARE Stocks, Limited Late Models, and SK Lights, along with ice racing, 24 Hours of LeMons, and winning a bus race while on fire, Joey Ferrigno has certainly been there, done that, and seen it all.  Ferrigno wouldn’t have been able to make his journey without a lot of support.

“I have a lot of people to thank between Daren Clark, Frank L’Etoile, Carl Holmgren, Bob Georgiades and his crew, Bob at RPE, John Cassandra from Hoodlum Skateboards, I went to high school with him and he bought me my first few sets of tires back in the DARE Stock days, Eastern Transmissions, Brothers Pool, Paul French, Gino from RH2 Way Communications has been a huge help to keep me racing in the SK Lights, Glenn from Midstate Site Development, Metro Garage Door, Stephens Duct Work, Gallagher Buick GMC, and D’Addario’s Auto, all these people have stuck with me through the years, and I’m grateful for their support throughout my career.”

With some ups and downs along the way, Ferrigno wouldn’t have done anything differently and he is living proof that you can indeed live out your racing dreams.

“There’s certainly been some nights where I’ve wondered what I was doing, spending all this money on racing and not hanging out with friends on Friday nights, but racing also helped keep me out of trouble,” said Ferrigno.  “A lot of people I knew and hung around with are either in jail or dead because they fell down the wrong path and got in trouble.  I’ve made a ton of great friends over the years and some of my best friends I never would have met if it wasn’t for racing.  When I first started racing I would have been happy to win a couple of races and to now be in the top-25 on Stafford’s All-time Winners List, the names that are behind me are just astonishing.  I never pictured myself driving a modified and winning races in it.  If you want to go racing, follow your dreams and keep at it.”

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

Stafford Speedway adds additional iRacing Events; Modified Invitational Set for Friday, May 15th

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway has announced an additional 4 iRacing events over the next month. All Phases Renovations will continue to partner with Stafford Speedway to present the weekly iRacing broadcast from eStafford Speedway each Friday night. All Phases Renovations will also host this Friday’s Modified Invitational event which will feature Modified competitors battling it out in an 80 lap Tour-Type Modified iRace. 

“We all know that iRacing is not as good as the real thing but it has been fun to host the iRacing broadcasts the last few weeks” explained Paul Arute of Stafford Speedway. “Larry at All Phases Renovations has been a big supporter of our broadcasts and we can’t thank him enough for the support. We’ve put together another 4 events starting next Friday with a 60-lap Late Model feature. We’ll also be back in action this Friday with a special Modified invitational featuring Modified drivers from all disciplines.”

Friday night’s event will continue to be reserved for drivers who competed at Stafford in 2019 or have registered to compete in 2020.  Race fans, crew members, and anyone else on iRacing will continue to have an opportunity to race their way into each Friday’s event as Prelim Night presented by The Horton Group has also been extended. Prelim night will continue to be hosted on Wednesday night’s and will feature the same race format as Friday’s events. 

“There are some really talented iRacers out there and they’ve made their name known at eStafford Speedway,” continued Arute. “We’ve had multiple drivers transfer from Wednesday’s event and end up winning on Friday night. In the future we’ll set up a more permanent eStafford Speedway iRacing league but for now we’ll continue the Wednesday/Friday night combo.”

The weekly Friday night iRacing event presented by All Phases Renovations will continue to be broadcast on the Stafford Speedway YouTube channel. Kyle Rickey, Bonssa Tufa, and Jeff Maconi will host the broadcast which kicks off at 7pm each week.

Registration to compete is now open online. Drivers competing in both the All Phases Renovations and The Horton Group Prelim Nights are encouraged to register as soon as possible as the league has a limited number of spaces available. 

All Phases Renovations eStafford Speedway iRacing Dates:

Friday, May 15th 

Modified Invitational

Tour-Type Modified – 80 laps

Friday, May 22nd

Late Model – 60 laps

Friday, May 29th

SK Modified® – 60 laps

Friday, June 5th

Super Late Model – 80 laps

Friday, June 12th 

Tour-Type Modified – 80 laps

The Horton Group Prelim Night iRacing Dates:

Wednesday, May 20th

Late Model – 60 laps

Wednesday, May 27th

SK Modified® – 60 laps

Wednesday, June 3rd

Super Late Model – 80 laps

Wednesday, June 10th

Tour-Type Modified – 80 laps

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

eStafford Speedway Continues to Provide New Winners

(Stafford Springs, CT)—eStafford Speedway is set to host another round of the iRacing Series presented by All Phases Renovations tonight with a 60-lap Late Model feature event.  The first four Friday night events were run with SK Modified® cars while last Friday night saw Street Stocks take to the virtual half-mile. 

There was also a mid-week event presented by Truex Management and Burton Klingerman eSports that paired Stafford drivers with drivers from NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, Gander Outdoors Truck Series, ARCA Menards Series, Whelen Modified Tour, and NASCAR Weekly Series.  The Street Stock race was won by NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour PR man Kyle Souza with Parker Retlzaff from the ARCA Menards Series winning the Grand National LiUNA! 100, making 6 different winners in 6 events with Stafford drivers taking three of the top-10 finishing positions in the Wednesday Grand National event.

Taking the starring role for Stafford drivers in the LiUNA! 100 were SK Modified® driver Michael Christopher, Jr., who drove a replica of his uncle Ted’s #13 ARCA East Series car to a 4th place finish, Street Stock driver Travis Hydar, who  started deep in the field and drove up to finish 7th, and Stephen Kopcik’s spotter Ryan Blanchard finished behind Hydar in 8th.  

“I was going as hard as I could because I knew you could take tires and I felt like I was maybe a little bit better than Parker [Retzlaff], but he could get the power down coming off the corner better than I could,” said Christopher, Jr.  “I thought I was a second or third place car and it was a really stacked field. Bryan [Narducci] and I were on the phone before the race and we were just hoping we could make the field.  The top-6 in qualifying were automatically in the field and we both qualified in the top-5 so we were able to watch the heat races and not worry about that.  The paint scheme was something I made a long time ago and it was pretty fitting for the race. I thought Stafford was a good fit for the ARCA cars and it was different from driving a modified.  The race was a lot of fun and there were a lot of big names in the race.  I wish we could have finished at least third where we started, but I spun the tires on a late restart and we ended up fourth.”

“It was really cool and a great opportunity to run the Grand National race against some of the top tier national drivers,” said Hydar.  “I was pumped when I was able to qualify through the heat race and didn’t have to run the consi.  We took some damage early in the race so I came to pit road and used my one fast repair. Andrew Molleur was spotting for me and helped me avoid the wrecks and navigate our way into the top-10 and finished 7th.  It was pretty cool to see Mike Christopher, Jr. and Ryan Blanchard finish in the top-10 with us.  Those ARCA cars were tough to drive and the tire wear was insane but it was a lot of fun.”

“I think I was the only fan driver that ran the Grand National race and it was really cool to be able to race with Xfinity, Truck, and ARCA guys along with the Stafford regulars,” said Blanchard. “We wrecked on lap-2 and lost 2 laps so we had to overcome that and got both laps back at lap-50.  There was a late caution and I was hoping the leaders were going to pit but they stayed out so I took tires again and was able to get back up to 8th.  I had a good battle with Travis over the final laps and I almost got into him but he was able to hold me off.”

Christopher, Jr. will be in the Late Model race tonight and is looking forward to the Tour Modified race set for next Friday night, May 8.  As an iRacing feature winner back on April 17, Christopher is also locked into the starting field for the Invitational Modified Tour race that is set for May 15th.

“I missed the Street Stock race last week but I’ll be in the Late Model race and I’m really looking forward to the Modified Tour style race, I’ve been asking Stafford for that for a couple weeks,” said Christopher, Jr.  “We won the SK race a couple weeks ago and we won some money from All Phases Renovations so I’m hoping we can win some more money.  It’s pretty cool Stafford has brought some different style races and the Late Model and Tour races should be pretty good and I’m sure the competition will be tight.”

Hydar will be looking to continue his good fortune in the iRacing realm where he has posted two podium finishes in the SK Modified® races held at eStafford as well as finishing fourth in last Friday night’s Street Stock race and 7th in the Grand National race.

“I was really surprised how well I’ve run in the SK races because I wasn’t sure how quickly I could adapt,” said Hydar.  “The street stock race was a little more up my alley with full fender cars and it was pretty cool to be able to run that race against guys who race modifieds as well as full fender guys. I’m planning on running the next 2 Stafford races and I’m really looking forward to another full fender race with the Late Models.”

Souza made his eStafford Speedway debut in last Friday night’s Street Stock feature event by leading all 50-laps to take the checkered flag.  Souza had to qualify for the Street Stock race through a preliminary Wednesday night event presented by The Horton Group, but now that he is a feature winner, he is automatically qualified for Friday night racing and will no longer have to go through the Wednesday night qualifiers.

“It was good but it was pretty stressful,” said Souza.  “I had a little bit of everything working for me in that race with good track position starting on the pole and I knew how to drive the car, but it was still tough having to hold off a guy like Andrew Molleur who races every week at Stafford and knows where to get on and off the gas and where to turn into the corners.  I’ve got over 200 iRacing wins but I would rate that Street Stock race as my top win.  Now that we’ve won we don’t have to qualify through Wednesday nights anymore and I’m looking forward to racing in whatever races Stafford has left to offer.  The Late Model and Tour Modified races are going to be tough but it’s a great way to be able to get together with other guys and have some fun on a Friday night.  I have to thank All Phases Renovations because we’d be racing for nothing without their support.  That Street Stock race was the first time I’ve ever collected a decent sum of money on iRacing.  I’ve won $10 or $15 here and there but nothing like $150 so thanks to All Phases for putting that money up for us.  Having some money like that to race for definitely makes the racing more interesting and I’m looking forward to the next 2 Stafford races.”

Perhaps the surprise of the group has been the performance of Blanchard.  Blanchard has only run 2 of the 4 SK Modified® races held at eStafford but he won the Horton Group preliminary events for both of his starts and he finished 2nd and 3rd in the SK races.  Blanchard didn’t qualify for the Street Stock race after getting involved in an incident during his qualifying race but his strong efforts so far have him looking forward to the upcoming eStafford events. 

“I’ve been iRacing for the last 3 or 4 years and my buddies Brandon Wilkinson, Teddy Hodgdon, Travis Hydar, and Andrew Molleur have all taught me the speed secrets around Stafford and having that driver input really helps,” said Blanchard.  “I’m really excited for the next 2 Stafford races.  I’m not as excited for the Late Model race as I am for the Tour Modified race but I think they’re both going to be very good races.”

Blanchard is not only active as a driver in iRacing, he also provides paint schemes for drivers.  Ryan can be contacted through his Facebook page or email at ryanblanchard12@gmail.com if drivers would like to get a new iRacing paint scheme.

“I got started with schemes a couple years ago when Jon Puleo asked me to design his SK Light scheme for his rookie season at Waterford where he won the championship,” continued Blanchard.  “That transferred over to iRacing and Travis Hydar, George Bessette, Jr., Teddy Hodgdon, Andrew Molleur, and Jon are always asking me for schemes and it’s always pretty cool when you see a scheme you designed on an iRacing broadcast and it’s even cooler when I’m racing against my schemes.”

The next round of the eStafford Speedway iRacing Series Presented by All Phases Renovations kicks off tonight at 7pm with Late Model cars taking center stage.  Modified Tour cars will be in action next Friday, May 8 and the Invitational Tour Modified race is set for May 15.  Be sure to tune to Stafford Speedway’s YouTube channel to watch all the action.

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