(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway has announced that long-time announcer Ben Dodge has been named as the grand marshal of the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®. Dodge has been part of the Team Stafford family for over 50 years and will send the 33-car starting field on its way with the most famous words in motorsports, ‘Drivers Start Your Engines.’
“It’s an amazing situation to be honored in this way by the Arute family,” said Dodge. “I grew up around this track my entire life and to be given this opportunity is something that I’ll never forget. I’ve been to every Sizzler® ever held in some capacity and the key ingredient to the original Sizzler® was that it brought everyone together. Cars came to Stafford from dirt, asphalt, short tracks, super speedways, and they were all assembled for a traditional short track event. If you can win on Sizzler® weekend, you’ve set the stage for the rest of your season. There is no question that Stafford is the proving grounds for being the best. I know it sounds like an old cliché but the Sizzler® really is “The Greatest Race In The History Of Spring”. This race is what we’re all proud to be a part of.”
With Dodge having been in attendance for all 50 previous editions of the NAPA Spring Sizzler®, he has seen the very best in modified racing gracing NAPA Victory Lane but there is one Spring Sizzler® memory that stands out to Dodge over the other 49 Sizzlers®.
“As I look back, the one Sizzler® race that stands out was when Bob Polverari won in 1981,” said Dodge. “Bob came here from a quarter mile track in Riverside and he was able to win the race, which was an incredible accomplishment.”
Dodge is still recovering from a cancer scare that sidelined him for the second half of last season. While he might not be the same Ben Dodge that he once was, he has lost none of his passion and enthusiasm for modifieds and racing at Stafford.
“As for my health, I’m doing really well,” said Dodge. “I had stage 4 cancer and I didn’t think I would ever be able to announce again and I was told by doctors and medical experts that I shouldn’t expect to be able to announce again. But thanks to a great therapist and some great doctors, I was able to fight my way through it and I can do some of the things I used to do. I love Stafford, and I love working with people like the Arute Family. As long as I can keep on doing it with respect and dignity, I want to keep announcing. This is my true passion and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
The 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 29, and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models will also make their return to Stafford Speedway on April 29th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race. Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Star divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program.
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Sunday, April 30th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the Spring Sizzler®.
For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.