There’s a good chance that Riverhead Raceway (NY) is about to see a woman crowned champion for just the second time in the race track’s 65 year history. Peggy Smith won the 1981 Grand Am division championship at the track, and now Erin Solomito has an eight point lead over young Mark Stewart in the Super Pro Truck division with just two races remaining.
One would think that Solomito would be feeling the pressure of having a slim lead with just 40 laps of racing separating her from a championship, but that isn’t the case at all. You can hear it when she talks about it. She wants it. Bad. But she definitely isn’t nervous.
“I don’t feel the need to be stressing about it,” said the 26-year-old from Hampton Bays, NY. “I’m hoping that if we do it we do it more than once and it’s not a one-time deal. I want to break records, but I want to really break records.”
Solomito comes from a true racing family. In fact, she races against her father, Frank Dumicich Sr., and her brother, Frank Dumicich Jr., every time she climbs into her race truck at the Long Island bullring. Her father and brother are both champions in the Super Pro Truck division as well, and Frank Jr. is actually the defending champion of the division.
“It would be awesome because it would be the first time that a father, son, and daughter have done it in the same division,” said Frank Jr. “Plus it would back up my championship from 2013.”
In March of 2013 Solomito married into another legendary Long Island racing family when she married Jerry Solomito Jr., a part-time driver in the NASCAR Modified division at Riverhead. She is now a sister-in-law to Shawn, the 2012 Modified track champion at Riverhead, and Timmy, the leading rookie on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour so far this year.
“It would be great to see her win it,” said Jerry. “To be the second female ever to win a championship at Riverhead would be great. And for her to be my wife it’s even better.”
Winning this championship would add another accomplishment to two families already full of great achievements.
“It would be huge,” said Timmy Solomito. “Her family has obviously won a lot of races at the track and our family has been successful. It would be really exciting for her and Jerry and the whole family.”
“It would just add another chapter to it,” said her father. “And she’s done it against some burly guys that she’s competing against and she’s this little girl and she’s wheeling it just as good as those guys.”
The 5-foot-3 Solomito said that what she enjoys the most in racing is beating the guys, and proving to other girls out there that it can be done.
“Just to see all the little girls that are excited to race and stuff, I mean, it brings me back,” she said. “It’s cool to see all the little kids on a Saturday that are excited that a girl races and not just the boys.”
Solomito started racing karts when she was eight. After a brief stint doing enduros she told her father that she wanted to race on Saturday nights. When she graduated high school in 2006 she moved up into the Super Pro Truck division. Since then she’s used her silky smooth driving style to weave her way into the Riverhead history books.
“I never thought I’d get this far in my career so it’s kind of cool to be standing here two weeks out and to be almost up to that point,” she said. “But I really haven’t thought about what it would feel like if I get to hold that victory flag that night for that reason.”
She’s said that she’s okay with whatever the outcome may be. If she wins she’ll be thrilled. If she doesn’t, she’ll try again. But she believes she knows what she has to do to get it done over the next two races.
“I keep telling my crew that we have 40 laps that stand between us right now. This week and championship night,” she said. “There’s no guarantee we’ll win it but we are going to try like hell. I’m just hoping we have a little fun while we do it.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT, NJ) – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Kris Holmberg