Ronnie Bassett, Jr. received a phone call at approximately 1:45 p.m. ET Monday afternoon that he will forever be thankful for. Three days after watching his family-owned Bassett Racing race shop go up in smoke as a result of a fire, Bassett has found a ride for Monday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dominion Raceway (VA).
When Bassett’s cell phone rang Monday afternoon he wasn’t exactly sure who was calling him. It wasn’t a long-time friend or anyone that he already had listed in the contacts app on his cell phone. Instead, it was fellow racer and K&N East team owner David Calabrese calling to offer his Calabrese Motorsports ride to Bassett so that he could continue his fight for the series championship.
Bassett, who currently sits third in the championship standings, gladly accepted the offer and will drive the car in the ComServe Wireless 150 on Memorial Day.
“I’ve met him one time,” Bassett told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We met at Bowman Gray a couple weeks ago after a Modified race. We’ve said hey to each other at the race track, but we didn’t grow up together. We’ve raced together a couple races and that’s about it.”
“I’m very, very fortunate that somebody that has very nice race cars has given me the opportunity to go to the race track this weekend. It’s very humbling to me because he was going to race himself this weekend and he’s stepping out to let me drive it. It’s very nice of him to do that for me. It’s someone I know from the race track but not someone I’ve grown up with.”
Many may ask why Calabrese would give up his ride as he tries to gain experience as a rookie competing in the series. He said it all comes down to something his parents taught him when he was younger.
“We’re not making anything off of this, I’m just doing it out of the goodness of my heart,” stated Calabrese. “I’d expect someone to do this for me too if I was going through something like this. That’s the way I was brought up and the way my parents raised me.”
The connection between the two drivers came in the form of Bassett’s crew chief, Bruce Cook, who like Calabrese hails from the state of New Jersey.
“(Bruce’s) whole thing is that everybody from Jersey sticks together whenever you go somewhere,” said Calabrese. “Bruce has been helping me out since we blew a couple motors and he’s helped us get back on our feet and been giving us a hand. When all of this stuff happened with Bassett I wanted to step in and help since they’re third in points. I want Bruce to finish good in points this year.”
As of right now, the deal between Bassett and Calabrese is just a one-race deal. Both parties said that they will take things on a race-by-race basis moving forward.
“It’s going to be a race-by-race deal,” said Calabrese. “Maybe we can come up with sponsorship for him. I’m letting him rent the car for practically nothing, and he’s using all my equipment and everything. Maybe later down the road he can ride for us full-time if everything works out and he can drive out of the Calabrese Motorsports stable.”
Bassett will head to Dominion Raceway next weekend with the same mindset that he always goes to a race track with. He’s going there to win and record a strong finish that will keep him in the thick of the championship battle.
“We always go to a race track to win. That’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to get a car to drive and I don’t want to tear the man’s race car up because he’s letting me drive it, but we go to the race track to win races.”
In addition to the support offered by Calabrese, Bassett explained that the amount of support he’s received from the entire racing community has been very humbling. From those offering up a prayer to those offering up time and services to help the team rebuild, he’s thankful for it all.
“Racing is a big family,” stated Bassett. “It’s tremendous the people that have called or said a prayer for us. It’s all coming together now and showing that it’s been working.”
Ronnie’s brother Dillon Bassett, who currently sits 13th in the K&N East point standings, will compete in Monday’s race at Dominion Raceway for Rick Gdovic and Charles Denike’s Precision Performance Motorsports.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Ronnie Bassett, Jr. Facebook