James Civali is making his return to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) for the World Series of Speedway Racing event and he’ll do so as a teammate to 15-year-old Spencer Davis in a second car for Hill Enterprises.
Civali and the team affectionately known as “Hillbilly Racing” have a history together. Civali raced their car for almost three seasons from 2009-2011 before he was let go prior to the 2011 World Series event.
“When I was racing for them we were just falling on some bad luck,” Civali told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We were tearing up a lot of cars. We were travelling a lot and spending a lot of money. It got to the point where neither one of us were doing well for each other. We had to make a change.”
The Meriden, Connecticut driver who is just a day away from turning 31, hasn’t raced much at all since parting ways with the No. 79 team. But Civali has certainly been active in his time away from the race track.
“I just took some time and did other stuff,” he said. “I got married. I had a baby. I’ve got a second baby on the way.
“But we didn’t really run as well as we’d have liked. It was one of those things where it was getting tiring.”
Civali said that this has been in the works for a while. He and David Hill team principal, had been planning to make an attempt at running at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) back in August.
“We were thinking about doing that and I think it just didn’t line up right with motors and car maintenance and stuff,” he said. “We just couldn’t get two cars race ready. But we got to the end of the year and got to talking and he asked if I wanted to run a backup car at Thompson and I said sure.”
Civali isn’t nervous about coming back from a few years of no racing, especially since he’s going back to Thompson where he’s had success in the past. Civali scored a win in the 2007 Icebreaker event at Thompson.
The World Series will not be the Civali’s first time behind the wheel this year. He tested Ted Christopher’s SK car at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) in September while Christopher was qualifying for the NWMT event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“He called me up because he wasn’t around,” he said. “It felt good to get back in the car. Right away we were fast.”
Civali didn’t fully say what would make his return a success. He just knows that if he has a little bit of luck on his side he can be fast.
“I definitely could jump right back into it and be successful,” he said. “I know I can.”
So does this mean that there’s potential for a return to full-time racing for Civali in the future? All he’s able to bring to the table is a helmet and talent, but he’d be all for a return.
“I could really only offer me as a driver,” he said. “I’m in really no financial situation to be paying for a ride. That’s for sure.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Speed51.com.