One driver synonymous with Tour-Type Modified racing in the Northeast will be missing from the race track during the 2016 racing season. 2003 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Todd Szegedy told the website RaceDayCT on Wednesday that he will sit out the 2016 racing season.
Szegedy, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, confirmed that report with Speed51.com powered by JEGS by indicating that he will be giving up his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ride with the No. 4 Mystic Missile team, as well as his part-time ride with Kevin Stuart Motorsports on the Valenti Modified Racing Series.
“I’ve been racing since 1983, obviously not Modifieds but racing in general and I’ve accomplished a lot,” Szegedy explained. “I’m content with what I’ve done and if I never get a good opportunity again I’m okay with that; that’s why I made the decision I made.
“I’m not retiring from racing. I still want to be involved someway whether it’s driving a car at some point or help a team out if they need help, or even help do testing I’d be willing to do that if the opportunity came.”
Although Szegedy is planning to sit out the 2016 season, he doesn’t believe that he’ll be away from racing for an extended period of time. He indicated that he’ll more than likely show up to a few races throughout the year and didn’t rule out the possibility of still strapping in for a race or two if the right opportunities are presented to him.
“I can go to any of these races that I want and still go into the pits and still be involved,” said Szegedy. “I might do that; I just don’t have a set plan. I just had to make a decision because it wasn’t fair to (NWMT car owner) Bob (Garbarino) or Kevin (Stuart) to keep telling them that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.
“Maybe if I hang around the track, who knows sometimes people field two cars. I’m not necessarily going to say no and turn down a good ride, but at least I’m going to have the freedom to say, ‘I can’t this week, I’m going to be away.’ I just want to see what’s next and enjoy my life.”
During his time away from the driver’s seat, Szegedy plans to enjoy some of the finer things in life away from the race track. At the age of 39 years old, he realizes that now is the time to enjoy more facets of life and he’s hoping he can do just that during the summer of 2016.
“I just want the freedom,” Szegedy stated. “I want to be able to travel with my girlfriend. We plan on, if things go well, going out to Europe among other things. I want to enjoy some of that and not have to worry about a schedule.
“I’ve talked to way too many people that wait until they’re older to travel and then their health goes away and they can’t enjoy what they really want to because they were so busy in their life. I’m fortunate that I’m in a point of my life that I can go do other things other than racing and I want to take advantage of that. You only have one life and I want to do more things.”
Making the decision to step away from racing wasn’t an easy decision to make for Szegedy, not only because he still has the passion but also because of the teams that he was racing for. Having the opportunity to race a legendary car like the Mystic Missile isn’t an opportunity that comes around very often.
Szegedy realizes that and admits that it made walking away difficult because he knows that there’s a chance that type of ride will not be available if/when he returns.
“Those thoughts have come into my mind and those are some of the reasons why it took me a little bit of time to make the decision I made because out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “Sometimes people forget about you. That’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
While enjoying his time away from racing, Szegedy plans to stay fresh behind the wheel and get his fix by visiting a local indoor go-karting track. He also subscribes to an online racing simulator program, which he says is a lot less stressful than being behind the wheel of an actual race car.
“I have an indoor go-kart track near me so I can get my fix there. I also have an iRacing simulator so I can still do some racing there. I can go crash a car or wreck a bunch of people and just hit reset,” Szegedy said with a laugh.
“I can still stay sharp. I’m very active physically. I exercise and I do a lot of biking, so I’ll stay busy. Maybe it’s going to drive me nuts and halfway through the year I’ll want to get back into a race car, but chances are I’m going to go through the year and see where it takes me.”
No matter where his journey may take him, Szegedy believes that a good positive attitude will lead him in the right direction.
“I feel that God will provide me with what will make me happy. If one day I want to get back into a race car, I believe I’ll get an opportunity for it.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com