Most sports nowadays are all about the competition, people coming together simply to do whatever it takes to get an edge on their rivals. Short track racing for the most part is no different, but the racing community has two unique characteristics: a bond of family and a desire to best the competition head to head on the race track. It is those traits that have been demonstrated this month in the Valenti Modified Racing Series with two of the top teams exhibiting both cooperation and competition.
Early in July at Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire, Anthony Nocella arrived at the track looking to carry forward the tremendous momentum his No. 92 team had gained over the spring, propelling them to the points lead. The team suffered a crushing blow before racing could even begin that night when the car suffered a rear-end failure. With no spare in the team’s hauler or time to repair the one on hand it appeared the Nocella would take a big hit in the championship battle.
Enter Mike Willis, Jr. who was second in points coming into the event, with a team still in a building process in Tour-Type Modified racing, but stringing together consistent runs. Though it was an opportunity to gain major points on Nocella, Willis did not want it to happen that way, at least if he could help it. With the team’s race shop located not too far way, Willis’ No. 83 team loaned a rear-end to Nocella for the night.
“We were just helping them out at Claremont, figured it was something they’d do for us. I’d rather beat him on the track than have him be in the pits,” Willis told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We saw them struggling, we knew if he didn’t race we’d gain a lot of points, but to me that’s not racing. I’d rather earn it than have something like a mechanical failure like that help me.”
While Nocella had received another kind offer from the Rameau family to race Sam Rameau’s backup car, he knew the best chance for a good finish would be in the 92 which had a solid setup underneath it. The effort of Willis resulted in Nocella climbing to finish third on the night. It was an act that Nocella was not surprised by.
“We’ve known them for a long time from go-karts, right away they came over helping out, so we figured that they’d give us something to stay at it,” Nocell said. “They went back to their shop, grabbed a rear end and brought it back to the track for us to use.”
Two weeks later at Lee USA Speedway, Nocella was quick in showing his appreciation for the race and possibly championship-saving assist.
“We got to Lee, went to pay for the tires and they said it was already taken care of, and that Anthony had bought them,” Willis said. “I didn’t know to expect that, but to do that shows that they appreciate it. They are great group of people, anything we can do to help them I know they would do to help us.”
“It was nice of them of them for sure so we figured we’d repay them a little bit, so we bought them tires at Lee,” Nocella said.
While grit and competition is essential for the future of short track racing, it cannot be without compassion and cooperation, those are important traits for the continued posterity of the sport and the short track racing community.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com