Many of Connecticut’s most well known racing stars kicked off their careers competing at The Little T Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Joey Logano, 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece and 2010 NWMT champion Bobby Santos all had their first racing experience at the 1/10-mile quarter midget track located next door to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Another driver who is beginning to make a name for himself in the short track racing ranks, 2014 Granite State Pro Stock Series champion Dillon Moltz, also began his career racing quarter midgets at The Little T when he was eight years old. When he wasn’t racing at The Little T, he’d be sitting in the grandstands at the big track, the 5/8-mile oval, dreaming about one day visiting victory lane on the frontstretch just past the flag stand.
On Sunday afternoon, Moltz’s dreams became a reality when he scored the checkered flag in the season-opening Icebreaker event for the Granite State Pro Stock Series at Thompson.
“I started off at the Little T and have probably won at 13 or 14 tracks in New England throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut. It means a lot to be able to finally come back home in a sense to finally snag a win there, especially under the ownership of the Hoenig family,” Moltz told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “If it wasn’t for them, The Little T never would have been possible. They put up the money, they built the race track and they provided a place for young kids like me to get their foot in the door in racing.”
Moltz inherited the lead on lap 21 of the 40-lap GSPSS feature when early leader Todd Stone and hard-charging Brad Babb made contact while battling for the lead off of turn four. The contact would send both drivers scrambling to save their cars as they continued to battle for the lead down the frontstretch. Babb would end up going through the infield grass, while Stone lost control of his car and made hard contact with the outside wall in turn one.
Babb was forced to pit for a new right front tire but bounced back to finish sixth, while Stone retired from the event with significant damage.
“He had been kind of running wherever I was trying to run, so I kind of knew if I ran the bottom long enough that he would start driving the bottom on his own,” Babb said. “So he went right to the bottom in turn three that time and I drove it in on the top. I got up on his right rear and I guess his spotter never told him I was there.
“So I was outside of him off of turn four and he came right up there and we got together. He got into the wall and then when he bounced back off the wall he got into my right front. So it cut his left rear and it cut my right front. It was just basically a spotter error for him. As soon as I got out of the car he came running over saying he was sorry and he didn’t realize I was up there. It’s hard to be mad at the guy when he admitted he was wrong. It’s just a tough deal.”
Derek Griffith of Hudson, New Hampshire turned in an impressive run in his No. 12 machine to finish in the runner-up spot after starting the race from the 10th position. Larry Gelinas, Reid Lanpher and Barry Gray rounded out the top-five behind Moltz and Griffith.
Growing up in the Connecticut area, Moltz had the chance to witness some of the most well known names in short track racing on a weekly basis. On most Thursday nights during his childhood, he could be found sitting in the grandstands watching those stars and thinking about how fun it would be to someday race on that same track.
“I watched all the veterans throughout the years, the Blewett’s, Baldwin’s, Teddy (Christopher), all the guys in the Late Models,” said Moltz. “I just watched everyone and picked up on how much fun this track is to be at.”
With his win at Thompson on Sunday, Moltz joins a prestigious list of drivers that have earned wins at Waterford, Thompson and Stafford Motor Speedway, the three Connecticut short tracks.
“I’ve only raced here at Thompson maybe four or five times, but we’ve always had really good finishes,” Moltz stated. “It means a lot to run good and finally get a win. Plus it means a lot to me to be on that prestigious list of guys that have a win at all three tracks in Connecticut. That means a lot to me right there.”
Moltz’s win on Sunday keeps his team on a high that they’ve been experiencing ever since winning the GSPSS championship during last year’s World Series at Thompson. It lasted throughout the winter, continued on Sunday and now his Mark Brackett-owned team hopes that it can continue throughout the 2015 season.
“We’re still on the high and haven’t come off of it,” said Moltz. “Wrapping up our season at Thompson last year with a championship, we were riding the high all winter long and then to start off the season back at Thompson with a win is fantastic.”
Moltz will run a part-time schedule with the Granite State Pro Stock Series this season, while also chasing wins in the Pro All Stars Series starting next weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) and on the American-Canadian Tour. One year after winning a touring series championships, it’s all about chasing checkered flags for the No. 5 RB Performance team in 2015.
“That’s what Mark really wants to go for,” said Moltz. He accomplished the championship last year and it meant the world to him. Now he wants to go rack some wins up.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com