As the depth of talent in Mike Parks’ Granite State Pro Stock Series (GSPSS) continues to grow, the level of competition has also grown tremendously. In 2020, fan have watched several new faces rise above the rest, showcasing their skills on the popular regional touring series.
One driver who is drawing some attention this season is 26-year-old Angelo Belsito. The Massachusetts native and former Seekonk Speedway standout has earned two wins and four top-fives in five series starts. The easy-going racer is second in points and within striking distance of leader Ray Christian III.
“With the pandemic affecting things the way it did, I wasn’t even sure I was going to race this year, to be honest,” Belsito said. “But once we made the decision to go, it has been one of those years. The car has been stout everywhere we unload, and the finishes are showing that fact. It’s been a great year.”
Belsito has an extensive background behind the wheel, having paid his dues in full. He isn’t one of those who simply decided to go Pro Stock racing one day and ordered a new car.
“I started racing when I was just five years old in Quarter Midgets at Thompson,” the young driver explained as he reflected on his early days. “I did that for several years until I was about 13, then jumped into a Legends car at Waterford Speedbowl. I did that right up through the 2013 season.
“In 2014, we made the jump up to a full-fendered Pro Stock at Seekonk. We ran there weekly and were competitive for three or four years, then won the championship in 2015. In 2017, we decided to split our time between a few weekly shows at Seekonk and some GSPSS or Pro All Stars Series races.”
Once he started traveling around the northeast, it was clear that Belsito was no “One-track Jack.”
“I feel like this year our team has been getting a little more competitive at some of these different tracks,” he added. “I’m gaining confidence and we’re seeing the results. I think it shows we belong here and can run up front against the top teams. At first, I was a little bit short on help, which made it tough.
“I was also a little short on experience in these longer races. But I’m finally finding my rhythm here later on in my career, and it feels fantastic. We just need to stay consistent and see what we can do.”
Like many of his Super Late Model/Pro Stock rivals around New England, Belsito prefers a certain brand of chassis over the others. Every driver has his or her preference, yet many choose this brand.
“We run a Distance chassis from Jeff Taylor up in Maine,” Belsito said. “He has a lot of cars up there and most of them are winning races. I wouldn’t run anything else at this point, that’s for sure. When they’re dialed in, they are tough to beat. My crew chief has the balance on ours right where it belongs.”
As the GSPSS prepares to make its first-ever appearance at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway this Saturday, Belsito is looking forward to his first visit to Andy Cusack’s historic Maine speedplant.
“I’m very excited to get up to Beech Ridge this weekend,” Belsito said. “I wish I could have gone up there last Saturday like Ray (Christian) and Dave (Darling) did, that was smart on their part to get acclimated to the track. We just couldn’t do it with work and everything going on in my life right now.
“But we’ll be there Saturday, I love those flat tracks believe it or not. I’ve been to Oxford just once, and I fell in love with the place. I have an obstacle to overcome having never been there, but I have the best team in the business. We’ll run practice, make whatever changes we feel are needed and go racing.”
Along with his immense natural talent behind the wheel, Belsito also has a few key people working behind the scenes to keep his program moving forward. It takes manpower to be successful on-track.
“I really need to thank my crew chief, Jason Shephard,” Belsito said. “He’s been building team chemistry here these past few years, and it’s really starting to pay dividends for us. I also want to thank my entire team for all the hard work they put into the car. It’s showing, and I appreciate their efforts.”
With a dedicated race team in his corner, Belsito is also fortunate to have a fine group of marketing partners that make his team competitive week-in and week-out. Nobody wins races without assistance.
“I’m very lucky to have some great companies on board our race team this year,” Belsito explained. “I want to thank Belboys Trucking, Nat’s Racing Engines, and Complete Chassis Solutions. We couldn’t do this or be nearly as competitive without their support.”
As this strange and rather abbreviated season rapidly winds down, Belsito is just thankful to be racing.
“Honestly, if we were struck down right now and couldn’t race again, I couldn’t hold my head high enough,” Belsito concluded. “From where I was when I first started touring to what we’ve done in these past few races has been amazing. We’ve made some huge strides. I’m happy with how far we’ve come.”
Story by Phil Whipple, Speed51.com Northeast SLM Correspondent
-Photo by: Tom Morris/GSPSS