Stafford Springs, CT — Reliable Welding and Speed have extended their partnership with Stafford Motor Speedway for a ninth consecutive season of sponsoring the track’s Rookie of the Year program. Brad and Linda Hietala of Reliable Welding and Speed began sponsoring the Rookie program during the 2002 season, and since then they have awarded over $13,000 in Rookie of the Year bonus awards to 23 different drivers.
Stafford Motor Speedway’s 2009 Reliable Welding and Speed Rookies of the Year were Mark Bakaj in the SK Modified® division, Adam Gray in the Late Model division, Michael Gervais, Jr. in the SK Light Modified division, and Dan Flannery in the Limited Late Model division. Bakaj’s title is worth a $700 bonus, while Gray, Gervais, and Flannery will take home $500 each.
“We’re excited about sponsoring the Rookie of the Year program for another season,” said Linda Hietala, who along with her husband and Stafford SK Modified® driver Brad, own Reliable Welding and Speed, located in Enfield, Connecticut. “The 2009 season was one of the best seasons we’ve had as the Rookie of the Year sponsor. Each division had a great rookie class and all four divisions were very competitive for Rookie of the Year. The SK Modifed® division had the largest class and was the best rookie fight that we can recall in that division. The Late Model Rookie of the Year title came down to the final race and was decided by only 4 points. The SK Light Modified Rookie of the Year was also the track champion, and the Limited Late Model division was like the SK Modified® division in that it was the largest and most competitive rookie class the division has seen. We really enjoy keeping track of the rookie battles throughout the course of the season, and it looks like there will once again be great rookie battles this season for Brad and myself to keep track of in 2010.”
One year after challenging for the championship in the SK Light Modified division, Mark Bakaj made the move up the ladder to the SK Modified® division and came away as the 2009 Reliable Welding and Speed SK Modified® Rookie of the Year. Bakaj drove to 3 top-5 and 8 top-10 finishes this season to finish in 9th place in the 2009 SK Modified® standings and he ended the year ahead of Matt Gallo, Joe Allegro, Jr., Nichole Morgillo, Sean Foster, and Chris Matthews for the top rookie honors.
One year after winning the Late Model championship at Monadnock Speedway, Adam Gray moved to the Late Model division at Stafford Motor Speedway and outdueled John Kasper to win the 2009 Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year award. Gray missed an event during the 2009 season, but still accumulated enough points with 5 top-10 finishes during the year to take the rookie title by a scant 4 point margin over John Kasper.
Stafford’s 2009 SK Light Modified division saw Michael Gervais, Jr. drive to a rare feat in that he won the Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year title as well as the track championship. What makes the accomplishment even more amazing is that prior to the 2009 season, Gervais had never sat behind the wheel of an open wheeled modified car. Gervais came to Stafford from legends cars to Stafford’s SK Light Modified division and displayed a consistency that kept him at the top of the Rookie of the Year chase as well as the championship chase all season long.
Coming off a 2008 season that saw him drive to 2 victories and a fourth place finish in the DARE Stock points standings, Dan Flannery made the move up to Stafford’s Limited Late Model division for the 2009 season. Flannery and his team purchased the car that Sean Foster drove to the 2007 Limited Late Model track championship and a second place finish in the 2008 standings, which helped Flannery outlast Norm Sears in the chase for the 2009 Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year honor.
The Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year is awarded to the rookie competitor who finishes the highest in the overall points standings in their respective division. To date, Stafford Motor Speedway has received a total of 17 registrations from competitors that are eligible for the Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie Bonus, which includes 8 SK Modified®, 1 Late Model, and 8 SK Light Modified competitors.
Stafford Speedway’s 2010 SK Modified® rookie class will consist of Tommy Membrino, Jr., Brit Andersen, Raymond Grassetti, Josh Sylvester, Michael Gervais, Jr., Christopher Jones, John Monetsanto, and Steve Greer. Stafford’s 2010 SK Light Modified rookie class consists of Mark Trombetta, Brandon Godbout, Shayne Prucker, Matt Galko, Zach Aszklar, Dylan Liseo, Bill Lucchesi, Jr., and Joey Cipriano. Stafford’s Late Model division has Ky Jensen in its 2010 rookie class and there are no rookie drivers signed up for competition as of yet for Stafford’s Limited Late Model division.
Reliable Welding and Speed is your one-stop shop for all your racing needs. Reliable Welding and Speed is a stocking distributor and dealer of auto racing parts, high performance parts, driver safety equipment, speed parts, race parts for oval track racing, circle track racing, stock car parts, and drag racing parts. Reliable Welding and Speed stocks race safety equipment, driver restraint systems, pit equipment, racing wheels, racing brakes, racing shocks & springs, aluminum radiators, racing aluminum seats, circle track fuel cells, tire pyrometers, durometers, caster/camber gauges, tire pressure gauges, racing electronic scales, rod ends, race clutches, colored rivets, gauge panels, racing mufflers, racing radios, performance hose & fittings, aluminum and steel tubing & materials and more, and they are always ready to fill your order. Reliable Welding and Speed has their entire product line available for orders online at www.reliableweldingandspeed.com. Reliable Welding and Speed can be contacted at 860-749-3977, and they also have a toll-free order number, 888-225-RACE (7223). Visit or call them today for all your racing needs. Reliable Welding and Speed can also be found at Stafford Motor Speedway every Friday night in the Paddock Area.
For more information on the Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year program, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway Track Office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
Sources: Scott Running/Stafford Motor Speedway PR