Across the U.S., the great grassroots tracks have their heroes who have made an indelible impact in ways that last far beyond when each hero dons their cape for the final time. For Stafford Springs (Conn.) Motor Speedway, there is a hero among them in Doug Coby, who has become a national representative for Modified racing and the surrounding community in the Northeastern U.S.
Doug Coby was born August 18, 1979 in Milford, Conn., to parents who introduced him and his sister to racing when he was six years old. After attending some races, each of them developed a vested interest in racing.
“My sister wanted to race so they got her a car,” Coby recalled, “and I ended up racing the following season. And she started actually a couple of years later since a couple of things happened to cause that. It’s been a long time coming.”
Coby began racing quarter midgets and won three national championships. He then moved up to racing full-bodied late models each Friday at Stafford, 74 miles away from Milford.
Coby earned his first late model win and track championship at Stafford in 1998. In 1999, he won six races there in his first Pro Stock season and, in 2000, earned the track’s division championship after winning two races.
In 2002, Coby raced SK Modifieds at Stafford. Later that year, Coby also began racing in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for Don King. The opportunity came up after Coby purchased equipment from King in 1998. King’s son followed Coby’s progression from Pro Stock racing to SK Modified racing and encouraged his father to pay closer attention to Coby.
“They had a falling out with their driver in 2002,” Coby said, “and so Don approached me at Stafford and just asked if I wanted to drive the final three Tour races of the 2002 season.”
“It was just kind of weird. You buy something from somebody and they pay attention to what you do with their old equipment.”
Since 2002, Coby has earned six championships and 31 wins in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, including 12 Tour wins at Stafford.
Coincidentally, Coby also has 31 wins at Stafford, including a Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) win that only padded his lengthy resume at the track.
“That’s why I’m really excited with the SRX and winning another division there and just kind of showing everybody that I know my way around there,” Coby said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of car it is, I’m gonna find my way around Stafford and hopefully get some wins.”
Coby’s SRX opportunity arose through his working relationship with SRX co-owner Ray Evernham. Coby raced with Evernham’s wife, Erin, growing up. Coby also worked with Evernham when he worked on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour broadcasts for NBC.
“He would just text me and asked me for some information about the races and kind of get to know me a little bit,” Coby said. “He was really working hard to try to get local guys involved with SRX. He obviously needed to get approval from CBS because there was a lot going on behind the scenes.”
Coby accepted the offer from Evernham once he received approval from CBS, despite having to miss a NASCAR Whelen Modified race at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway that took place the same night. The gravity of the opportunity was not lost on his partners, however, which made the offer seamless.
“I asked my Modified sponsors and they were behind me to do it,” Coby said. “It’s one of those things where at the end of a long career, you have to weigh the opportunities, and I kind of thought that the SRX thing would be really big with television and a way for me to leave my mark on something.”
Coby’s win drew support from the Modified community similar to what Ryan Preece received as he progressed through NASCAR’s top three national series.
“I kind of felt the same way where they all kind of looked at it like I represent everybody from the Modified community,” Coby stated. “It’s a cool feeling when your competitors come up to you and other crew members. They weren’t overly surprised that I adapted to the car, but at the same time, to win the race and actually get it done is cool.”
Coby will race for GMS Racing in the September NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The deal came together through working with GMS Racing President Mike Beam who was his celebrity crew chief for his SRX win.
“We hit it off when we were talking about the setups and he knew I wanted to win pretty badly,” Beam said. “We just got along really good and it was a relationship that came about pretty quickly that day. He kind of told me, at the end of the day, that he was going to talk to the owner of GMS and see if we could work together and he was able to pull it off.”
Coby will be racing the No. 24 Chevrolet which won the last two NCWTS Bristol races, with Sam Mayer in 2020 and Brett Moffitt in 2019. Similar to Mayer, Coby will be making his debut with no practice or qualifying, which requires Coby to adapt to a different type of tire during the race.
“I’m going to have to adapt for the first 30 to 50 laps of that race I’m gonna spend trying to figure out how to drive on a radial tire and how to drive an [NCWTS] truck versus a Modified at Bristol,” Coby stated, “but I think I can do it and they’ll kind of give me some pointers and some tips as we go.”
No matter the results at Bristol, the prospects of a rare opportunity have come true for Coby, who has exuded a deep pride in his community on a national stage
“It means a lot. The Arute family and I go back to me being 16 years old [in 1995] in a late model and they love seeing me run while there so it’s definitely home for sure,” Coby said of Stafford. “There are other tracks that I’ve done well at one a bunch of races at but Stafford never gets old for me when I’m there.”
Doug Coby is currently fourth in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points standings, 41 points behind championship leader Patrick Emerling. The next race for the Tour is July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (12:45 p.m. ET; TV: TrackPass, delayed NBCSN broadcast on August 11 at 1 p.m. ET).
Away from the racetrack, Coby also owns Rescue Dog Realty, a real estate brokerage company he started with his sister. The company makes donations to animal rescue sites throughout the state after closing on sales. Since starting the company, Coby and his sister have also helped foster and adopt the dogs they support.
Stafford Springs Motor Speedway