Santos Makes History, Summers Scores a First at Stafford by Denise DuPont
Extreme Tuesday Open Wheeled Show Is One to Remember
The heat was on at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) this week as NEMA Midgets, ISMA Super Modified and Pro-Four Modifieds ran at the  Fourth Annual Extreme Tuesday event on July 10th.

Erica Santos drove her car like a Santos to take the lead as the 30-lap NEMA midget race began. She had a strong car and in her mirror she saw her major challenger on the track, veteran racer Nokie Fornoro 

During the second caution, second place contender Fornoro, n the #4 car, stopped on the back stretch. His car was pushed into the infield and was sidelined for the rest of the race.

Greg Stoehr in the car #26 passed Santos on the restart to take over the lead position. Santos moved back into second spot, but she did not sit back and settle for second long. On lap 25 Santos  took the led back driving her car as deftly as she has seen her brother Bobby do to pass #26 car. After Santos passed Stoehr, his car started to back up on the track. It turned out that his car ran out of gas.
Santos continued on to take the victory and the 24-year-old made history by becoming the first woman ever to win a NEMA race in the 54 year history of the association.

Santos was very excited with the win. Her brother Bobby Santos, III had assisted in the setup of her car for the race.
“I have been waiting to win a race forever!” said Santos.  “I just had a great car. I started racing NEMA cars four years ago and this year is my first year driving fulltime.”

Now that Erica has won her first NEMA race and a place in the history books will she take her talent and go forward?  In an age where every year driver is looking for a way to move up, her answer might surprise you.

“I am not looking to make a career of racing. I like the NEMA cars so I plan to stay here.”  

Joey Payne charged to the front for a second place finish. Joey was in a major accident during Stafford competition last year when he hit a wall hard.

“Sometimes you have to put a little knock in your head to go better,” said Payne.  “I think that we did that. It is like riding a bike. You fall off a bike and you get back on and ride again”

Hard charger Chris Perley did not take long to charge to the front after starting 12th in the fifty lap ISMA Super Modified race at Stafford. Perley won last year’s Stafford’s  Extreme Open Wheel event and has proven to be one of the best Super Modified drivers on the track.

“It was a terrific show and those laps clicked off so quick,” said Perley of the opening laps.  “It was almost scary. It was pretty wild out there.”

On lap 38, Rob Summers passed Perley for the lead after several laps of challenging him for the top spot.

“Our cars were real even. It made for a fun race,” said Perley.  “Nobody knew what was going to happen. Lap traffic played a role. Rob came out of now where. It made for a great race. Coming home second, any time I am in the top three I am real happy. Rob and his team have been knocking on the door for so long it is great to see him get a win.”
Summers maintained the led to get his first ever Super Modified win.

“That is the most fun that I have ever had in a race car,” said Summers.  “The longer I went the better my car got. I had a couple of close calls with lapped cars. This is the best race that I ever won. I am real happy about this.” 

Winning the Super Modified race at Stafford guaranteed Summers a spot at the Budweiser International Classic Oswego Speedway show and the East-West Shootout at Concord Motorsports Park.

“This is something that I always dreamed of. It is probably the biggest race that I have ever won. I have wanted this one for a while. Ever since I was a kid I have been intrigued with the Super Modified.”

There were 19 Pro-Fours Modifieds that started the 25 lap race as the sun set over the speedway at Stafford. For the second year in a row, Jeff  Zuidema won the event.

“It was a fun race,” said Zuidema.  “It was a clean run and we all raced hard.” 

Erica Santos in victory lane.  (Jim DuPont Photos)
Santos (#44) and Fornoro (#4) race at Stafford.
Summers in victory lane.