Former Stafford Track Champions Al & Cliff Saunders Set to Return to Full-Time Late Model Competition in 2024

(Stafford Springs, CT)—After 2 years away from racing, two former track champions are set to return to full-time competition at Stafford.  Hometown twins Al and Cliff Saunders will make their return to Stafford’s Late Model division with Cliff driving the #14 American Sleeve Bearing Chevrolet and Al Saunders driving the #40 American Sleeve Bearing Chevrolet.  Although they haven’t been racing themselves, the Saunders twins have been keeping busy helping their nephew Jason Raymond in the Street Stock division while also helping Tom Butler and his #4 Late Model team.

Al Saunders Team Profile

Cliff Saunders Team Profile

“We decided to take some time off in 2022 and although we didn’t plan on taking the whole year off, things just ended up happening that way,” said Al and Cliff.  “In 2023, our nephew Jason Raymond started racing a Street Stock every week and Tom Butler started back racing full-time in the Late Model division so those two things got us back to the track every week helping them out and it got our interest up in going back racing ourselves for this season.  We started to get ready to come back racing in 2023, but things didn’t quite pan out for us to do that.”

While the Saunders twins are both very experienced at Stafford with Al having 25 career wins and the 2015 Limited Late Model championship on his resume and Cliff having 19 career wins and the 2012 Street Stock title to his name, both drivers will be feeling like rookies all over again in 2024.  Both Al and Cliff have put together brand new BFR cars and will have to learn what their new cars like and don’t like as they take to the track for the first time in 2 years.

“We’re both very excited,” said Al and Cliff.  “We both have brand new BFR cars so we’re looking forward to seeing how they go around the track.  We had the engines and transmissions refreshed and we installed a lot of parts from our old cars on the new cars so that we wouldn’t have to buy everything brand new.  We think this year is sort of going to be like being a rookie all over again because we haven’t been behind the wheel of a racecar for 2 years.  With the new cars some of our old habits might not fit, so we’ll have to see what happens.  The first couple weeks it might take a little getting used to again, but hopefully once we get going, we should be able to get back up on it pretty quickly.”

Al and Cliff would both like to crown their return with a trip to NAPA Victory Lane sometime during the 2024 season, but they’re more focused on getting back to having fun at the track and re-learning the fast way around the Stafford half-mile.

“At first we just want to have fun again,” said Al and Cliff.  “The last year we raced wasn’t as much fun, which is one of the things that led to us taking a break.  I think coming back the goal would be for each of us to win a race, which is going to be tough because there’s so many good cars in the Late Model division.  We’re figuring that finishing in the top-10 every week would be a huge accomplishment for us after being away for 2 seasons but most of all we want to get back to having fun and being competitive again.  It’s going to be pretty exciting for us to be back for the first time in a couple years and with the level of competition in the Late Models, all around the whole aspect of being back at the track is going to be a lot of fun.”

The Saunders twins will both carry sponsorship from hometown company American Sleeve Bearing, but beyond that, they’re looking for additional sponsors and crew help for the 2024 season.

“One area that we’re a little short on is sponsors and crew help,” said Al and Cliff.  “We have American Sleeve Bearing coming back on board with us and they’ve been with us since we began racing.  Other than that, we have to thank Bob Fill from BFR for all the help in putting the new cars together, R.A.D. Auto Machine for the refresh on the engines, and Williams Race Gears for the transmission and rear gears.  We have a lot of crew guys from our core group coming back but with 3 cars now between our cars and Jason’s Street Stock, finding some more sponsors and crew help would be a big help for us.”

The 2024 Late Model season at Stafford gets started with the 52nd Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®, set for April 27th-28th. The NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 27th 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®.  Stafford’s Late Model, Limited Late Model, and Street Stock divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program with qualifying and feature racing.

Order 52nd NAPA Spring Sizzler® Tickets

Sponsor a NAPA Spring Sizzler® Lap 

Sunday, April 28th will play host to the $20,000 to win 52nd NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®.  Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified® and SK Light Modified divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.

For more information, visit, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.