Tag Archives: Stafford Motor Speedway

Adam Gray Wins 3rd Career Late Model Championship at Stafford

(Stafford Springs, CT)—While a championship is a special occasion for any driver in their racing career, for Stafford Late Model driver Adam Gray, his 3rd Stafford Late Model title carries with it some extra meaning.  Prior to the 2019 season, long time crew member and family friend of both Gray and his father Barry, Leon Chartier, passed away.  Chartier made Gray promise that he would one day return to Stafford after not racing from 2016-2018 and win a race.  Gray checked that box last season and he one-upped his feature win from last season with 6 more wins this year en route to his third career championship at Stafford.

“Leon and my father started racing together and Leon was like a second father to me,” said Gray.  “Leon helped my father and myself for years and his shop is where we work on our cars.  As long as I’m racing his name will always be on my car.  Leon got sick and he pulled me aside one day and told me that one day I was going to go back to Stafford and win a race.  We won that race last year and that was pretty cool and this year we did one better for him and won the championship.  It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.  Knowing that we were doing this for him but not having him with us was the heartbreaking part.  I sat in the car for a little bit last Friday night after the race was over and I had tears in my eyes and I kept looking up and saying ‘I did it for you.’  It’s pretty cool to be able to accomplish something and have more meaning behind it than just racing.”

Aside from getting caught up in a wreck on Sept. 4 and a mechanical issue on Sept. 25, Gray and the #97 team were the class of the Late Model field.  Gray racked up 6 wins and 11 top-5 finishes in the 12 races that he didn’t have any issues in, with a worst finish of 8th in those 12 races.  Gray’s average finish for the 2020 season was 4.4.

“We had some phenomenal races this year,” said Gray.  “Other than Wayne Coury and Ryan Fearn, we were the only repeat feature winners and this season kind of followed in the tracks of our 2014 championship.  We had a few more DNF’s than we’ve had in the past but we had strong finishes and we finished up front.  It’s special to look at the all-time wins list and champions list for the Late Model division at Stafford and see my name surrounded by some pretty darn good drivers like Tom Fearn, Chuck Zentarski, Woody Pitkat, Ryan Posocco, and Jim Peterson.  Those are all guys who I learned from when I first came to Stafford to go Late Model racing.  I have to thank Meadows Motor Car, Leon’s Auto Repair, Gregg Orhlen Construction, Statewide Auto Auctions, Donny from R.A.D. Auto Machine, Williams Race Gears, Hawley’s Auto Body and Repair, Hi Tech Transmissions, Barrco Automotive, Waddell Communications and my entire crew.”

Gray and the #97 Meadows Motor Car team returned to Stafford running a partial schedule in 2019 and originally planned on only running a partial schedule again in 2020.  Early success, including back to back wins in the first 5 races of the season, changed those plans from part-time to full-time to make a run for winning the championship.

“We were just coming to Stafford to have some fun and try to win some races on a part time schedule this year,” said Gray.  “Early in the season I was going to miss a race at Stafford because my father was racing but that got rained out and then it got to the point where we were invested and we saw the possibility of winning a championship so we put some other things on the back burner and focused on Stafford.  As a crew we kind of decided after we had a couple of good runs and we won 2 races in a row to go the full season.  Those two wins were very motivating for us.”

Although the 2020 championship is Gray’s third career championship at Stafford, he says that the 2020 title was a tougher championship to win than his first 2 championships were.

“You would think because of the shortened season due to the pandemic going on that things would be a little easier, but the short season didn’t leave you any room to make errors,” said Gray.  “If you got behind, then you were going to have a hard time to make up any points you lost.  The fortunate thing for us was the couple of nights when we had a bad night, the guys who were second, third, or fourth in points also had a bad night.  This season was more of a grind because there wasn’t 20 races where you had more opportunities to make up for points.”

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

Brian Sullivan Takes Stafford SK Light Championship in Unusual Circumstances

(Stafford Springs, CT)—With 2020 being a year full of unpredictable and unusual circumstances, the race for the SK Light track championship at Stafford Speedway fits perfectly into the unpredictable and unusual narrative.  Brian Sullivan and the #11 Vasseur Landscaping team opened the season with a strong start, winning a race and posting top-6 finishes in each of the first 5 races of the season.  Following that 5-race stretch, Sullivan missed not one but the next two races on the schedule, which dropped him from the point lead to 5th in the standings, 90 points behind the leader with only 7 races left.  That fact didn’t deter Sullivan or the #11 team as they continued to notch strong consistent finishes in the top-5 while the drivers in front of him in the standings all encountered issues that allowed Sullivan to turn his 90 point deficit into a 40 point lead heading into the NAPA Auto Parts Championship Night event.  A conservative 10th place effort in that final race saw Sullivan and his team crowned as the 2020 SK Light champions.  

“Missing two races I thought we’d battle back to maybe finish somewhere in the top-5 in points but I never thought we’d be battling for a championship,” said Sullivan.  “We know we had a good team and we had a fast car so we were going to battle to the end but we never expected to make up for missing 2 races.  Winning the championship means a lot.  I’ve been going to Stafford since I was a kid sitting in the stands on Friday nights.  To go from a kid in the stands to winning my first race at Stafford and to win a championship at what I think is the premier track in New England, if not the entire country, it feels really good to be on the list of feature winners and track champions.  I have to thank all my sponsors Monaco Ford, Glastonbury Oil Co., Competitive Edge Coatings, Sullivan Landscaping, Vasseur Landscaping, Ceric Fabrication, R.A.D. Auto Machine, Buzzy Transmissions, Waddell Communications, the whole Chapman family and crew, and my crew guys my Dad, Mark, Kim, Ted, Glen, and Dave and Mike Monaco.”

Adding to the unpredictable and unusual nature of Sullivan’s 2020 season was the fact that prior to the start of the 2020 season, Sullivan wasn’t planning on running the full schedule of events.  With the Covid-19 pandemic leading to a condensed schedule for the 2020 season, Sullivan and his car owner Rich Vasseur decided to run the full schedule and see where they ended up at season’s end.

“For us, this season was a matter of running the first part of the year and seeing how things went,” said Sullivan.  “Even though we ended up with 14 races, I was figuring on a 10 or 12 race schedule with the shortened season and we could really go for it.  The season went very well for us.  We raced all year and kept the wheels on the car and we only had to change 3 bumpers during the season.  I wish we had a few more wins with our expectation level to win races but the championship fell into our hands because we ran well every week.”

Despite missing 2 races, Sullivan and the #11 team were the most consistent SK Light team at Stafford in 2020 with an average finish of 4.0.  While he only had 1 win this season, Sullivan led all SK Light drivers with 10 top-5 and 12 top-10 finishes.  Sullivan points to his years of experience working both as a crew chief and a spotter as some of the key reasons why he was able to be consistently good every Friday night during the 2020 season.

“I definitely feel like being a crew chief is an advantage,” said Sullivan.  “I’m looking for a certain feel in the car and making the right decisions, so it’s an advantage to be a crew chief and driver.  Also I’ve been a spotter for years and that really helps as far as getting through accidents or squaring the car up if someone wrecks in front of you.  You also have to be alert and aware of which cars are around you and make smart decisions on the track.  A lot of drivers have smart people helping them out but it’s an advantage to know what I want in the car and knowing week to week that I’m coming to the track with a stout car.”

Now that Sullivan has both his first career feature win and championship at Stafford, he is looking to return to the track in 2021 to defend his title.

“I think for next season we’re going to try to come back and defend our championship,” said Sullivan.  “We’re not looking to move up.  I’ve been down that road before and I know what an SK costs and you also have to have pit crew guys and you’ve got to have everything, so that’s a big step up.  

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

Andrew Durand Captures Second Limited Late Model Championship in Return to Full-Time Competition at Stafford

(Stafford Springs, CT)—The race for the Limited Late Model championship at Stafford Speedway came down to the final lap of the final race of the season and ended with Andrew Durand and Alexandra Fearn tied in the standings.  Durand held the tiebreaker over Fearn with 7 wins to Fearn’s 3 wins to make him a track champion for the second time in his career.

Durand entered the 2020 season as the winningest driver in Stafford Limited Late Model history with 25 career wins, even though he hadn’t raced in the division on a weekly basis since the 2010 season.  Despite the nearly 10 year layoff from competition, Durand and the #43 Universal Plastics team resumed their winning ways in 2020 by winning the first 2 races of the season and won 7 races overall on their way to taking home a second career championship.  

“I really wasn’t planning on going for a championship this season,” said Durand.  “My plan was to just go race and things kind of fell into line for us with the championship.  After taking so much time off from racing, I really wanted to do the best that I could so we put a lot of extra time and effort into the car.  Towards the end of the season I said to myself that I had to race how I normally race because racing for a championship can stress you out.  My main thing was to just get back out on the track and have some fun and try to win some races.  I have to thank my sponsors Universal Plastics, Hamm’s Welding, Payless Auto Glass, Dan’s Appliances, and a special thanks to Neil Provost for helping get us back out there on the track.”

During his first stint in the Limited Late Model division, Durand racked up 25 career wins from the 2005-2010 seasons.  Durand’s 7 wins set a new personal record for wins in a season as his previous career high was 6 back in the inaugural season of Limited Late Model competition in 2005.  Durand returned to Stafford for the final 2 races of the 2019 season to help prepare himself for the 2020 season but mechanical issues plagued him to 11th place finishes in both races and he came into the 2020 season unsure of what to expect from his #43 car. 

“I wasn’t expecting to win 7 times but we’ve done it before in 2005 when Michael Bennett won 14 races and we won 6 times,” said Durand.  “We’ve done it before and with a similar amount of cars this year that we had back in 2005, it’s a different kind of racing.  You really have to get to the front before the other guys get up front.  I think it was around halfway through the season that we started to look at points with some potential for the championship at the end of the season but we didn’t think too much about it because there was still a lot of racing left to go and a lot of things can happen to you in that time.  The season went very well for us, I have no complaints.  I guess if I had to complain about something then I’d complain about the night we had a flat tire and we couldn’t finish the race.”

After a nealy 10 year hiatus from racing, it could be easily assumed that the 2020 championship was harder to win than the 2009 championship, but Durand says that wasn’t the case.

“I think my first championship was a lot more exciting and stressful than this one was,” said Durand.  “I’d say this championship was a lot easier for me stress-wise.  I know how hard it is to win a championship with everyone fighting for it and all it takes is one little thing like a flat tire that can take you out of contention.  You don’t always have to have the fastest car, but you need to be the driver who makes the least amount of mistakes all season long.”

With his second career championship officially in his grasp, Durand is looking to make a move up the full fender ladder at Stafford for the 2021 season.

“It feels good to win the championship this year and now we’re ready to sell my car and build a Late Model for next season,” said Durand.  

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