To open the 2022 season, the Camping World SRX series expanded its horizons with two stops at tracks that did not host an SRX race in 2021. Now the Superstar Racing Experience returns to where it held its all first race, a familiar haunt both for the series and for many of the greatest race car drivers to ever come from the northeast.
The third race of the 2022 SRX season sees the series return to Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Conn., which hosted the inaugural SRX race in 2021. Not much has changed at Stafford, as this relatively flat track from a half-mile continues to be a historic and major destination for runners in New England and the Tri-State area.
Although a national TV audience on CBS got to grips with Stafford last summer, here’s an in-depth look at Stafford Motor Speedway, its history and some of its most legendary drivers.
The greatest races
Stafford Motor Speedway’s calling card is its SK Modified division, the track’s signature division for modified cars. SK Modifieds were the brainchild of track president Jack Arute, who introduced the concept as a means of reducing the cost of racing modifications and making modifications a viable racing discipline in the future. Typically, Stafford’s Weekly Race Series divisions are split between SK Mods and “Open” Mods, as well as other stock car series like late model and street stock.
Stafford’s biggest race of the season is the annual Spring Sizzler, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Spring Sizzler was won by some of the greatest modified racers in history, a group that includes NASCAR Hall of Famers such as Richie Evans and Mike Stefanik.
The list of track champions at Stafford reads like a who’s who of modified NASCAR legends and stars of the Northeast racing scene, many of whom eventually made it to the NASCAR Cup Series. Modified legends such as Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Ted and Mike Christopher, Reggie Ruggiero and Mike Stefanik have all won the Stafford track championship in modified versions. So did 1986 Daytona 500 champion Geoff Bodine, longtime NASCAR drivers like Greg Sacks and Ron Bouchard, and current driver Ryan Preece.
Others have raced and won at Stafford including the late Charlie Jarzombek, NASCAR Hall of Famer Jerry Cook, Jimmy Spencer, Steve Park, Randy LaJoie, Mike McLaughlin and many more. In 2020, Stafford released their list of the 50 Greatest Modified Drivers in Track History, which includes many of the names mentioned here.
The local SRX All-Star for Stafford Motor Speedway is Matt Hirschman, who earned an SRX race due to his win at this year’s Spring Sizzler. The 39-year-old from Northampton, Pennsylvania, Hirschman followed in the footsteps of his father, Tony Hirschman, by building his own successful racing career.
Hirschman has raced on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour since 2005, winning five career races and finishing second in the points standings in 2008. Nicknamed “Big Money Matt”, Hirschman earned a reputation for showing up and showing up in big races – particularly at the Richie Evans Memorial in New Smyrna, a race he has won five times in the past six years and six times in total.
Hirschman has a big number to watch, as local All-Star Doug Coby won last year’s SRX race at Stafford. Coby ended up turning that into a single in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he earned a 12th-place finish at Bristol.
Did you know?
In addition to its long history in modified versions, Stafford has also hosted many stock car races over the years, including the NASCAR East Series. Future NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. won twice at Stafford in East Series competition, first in 2001 and again in 2003.