It is no secret that family runs deep in motorsports. On the other hand, it is not entirely common when multiple family members of varying ages and years of experience move up to the same level at once, but that's exactly the case for Catalano Motorsports.
Teenage racer Tommy Catalano and his parents Amy and Dave Catalano, all proven winners in their own right, will begin competition on the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour starting at Lancaster National Speedway (NY) in April.
Tommy Catalano has been making his nickname “The Rocket” known throughout the past couple years. The soon to be 17-year-old has picked up wins at Lancaster as well as New York tracks Spencer, Holland, and Wyoming County in a Sportsman (SST) Modified. In addition to his time on the track, he briefly spent time in North Carolina the last couple summers which has helped him get a foundation and knowledge to compete in a more powerful car.
“I got a good opportunity to go down to Kyle Busch Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing for a couple months in the summer learning at the shop and getting my feet wet,” Tommy Catalano told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I’ll be doing it again, and try and be back on the weekends and run for the (RoC) championship.”
The experience gained working in various parts of a NASCAR organization is not the only positive support that the Ontario, New York-headquartered team has on their side. Tommy’s uncle, and Dave’s brother, Buck Catalano was dominant for many years at Spencer Speedway, including a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regional championship in 2002.
“My uncle, he helps a lot, giving key tips and pointers about the main differences from the SST to the real Modified, along with my dad because he used to race with him,” said Tommy Catalano.
Drivers with impressive resumes have added to the advice provided and have been assisting Tommy, a 2012 NWAAS New York state Rookie of the Year himself, and his parents.
“One guy who has been a real big help and provides good insight is Bill Hebing,” said Tommy. “The Zacharias family has helped point us in the right direction too.”
Amy Catalano has recorded impressive results as well, with two championships at Holland Speedway and one at Spencer in the last six years. Her 2011 track championship in Holland’s Pro Modified division resulted in a New York State NWAAS championship. The mother of five boys looks forward to joining the RoC competition.
“We got together after a season that had a lot of ups and downs, and decided to bring some more fun back into it,” explained Amy. “We don’t really know what to expect, but we will play it by ear.”
One advantage they have is Dave has already run in the Tour Modified in years past, which should help both Tommy and Amy acclimate themselves. It will also provide the chance for their kids to keep advancing in the racing world.
“I think this will help (Tommy) to learn and grow a lot,” said Amy. “He still has a long ways to go.”
Younger brother Timmy, a winner already in a Four Cylinder, is the next in line and will get some practice time in the SST Modified to speed up the learning curve before eventually moving to that machine sometime in the future.
The Catalano family will not be getting much rest gearing up for the new season, especially since they have plans to prepare two cars and travel down to the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) in February. It will be Tommy’s first foray in a Tour Modified.
“We are burning the midnight oil preparing for New Smyrna,” said Tommy. “As of right now we will take it as a learning experience.”
When the RoC Tour gets going, the goals will be simple as well.
“I would like to finish all the races, and after seeing how the first couple go we’ll work on getting top fives or top 10s,” said Tommy.
As if all of that is not enough, Amy and Tommy also plan on racing weekly in their Modifieds at their local tracks of Spencer and Holland with only two dates conflicting.
If all goes well, Tommy indicated that fans may see him hit a couple NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour shows perhaps at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) or New Hampshire Motor Speedway later in the year.
It is certainly an immense amount to juggle around, but the Catalano family is definitely anxious to get the 2015 season started.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent -Twitter: @Aaron_Creed
-Photo Credit: Howard Bundy Photo