The resurgence of Modified racing during Florida Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing has seen a great mix of star drivers make the trip down south in February the last two years. This includes some notable drivers making their first journey.
Less than two months from now, second-generation driver Andy Jankowiak will make his first pilgrimage to this legendary event.
“I’m pumped, my dad was a champion down there in 1990. I kind of shied away from it at this point, lot of years they never had a great car count but the last two years it has really been picking up, and it got us really excited,” Jankowiak told Speed51.com.
Overall, it will make for a busy winter for the Tonawanda, New York driver who is set to also be behind the wheel of his TQ Midget in the three-event Indoor Auto Racing Championship.
“It’s not something I could have done on my own being in the middle of indoor season,” Jankowiak stated. “I couldn’t take my car down there, just didn’t have the man power. It was going to take Tom and Bud, my car owner getting involved to make this happen. The indoor stuff I take care of myself and Tom takes care of the 12, so both operations will be able to go over the winter.”
While taking on the five-day marathon at New Smyrna has always been on Jankowiak’s bucket list, it has also been on the to-do list for one of his bosses, which finally tipped the scales in favor of making the long haul from Upstate New York.
“This is a big deal for our team manager Tom McGrath. In his racing days, he always wanted to go down to Speedweeks and never got the chance. He definitely put forth the effort to connect all the dots to make it all happen.”
Both the World Series and Kickoff to Speedweeks at Bronson Speedway (FL) have been known for providing a unique mix of Modified teams and drivers not seen throughout the warmer months up north. Touring series such as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Valenti Modified Racing Series, Southern Modified Racing Series, and the RoC will be represented with plenty of star power.
The RoC has gained a reputation of being represented by a sturdy corps of veteran drivers such as Chuck Hossfeld, Matt Hirschman, and Jimmy Zacharias, as well as younger stars like Tyler Rypkema, Tommy Catalano and Austin Kochenash.
Jankowiak is more than ready to join his fellow series drivers.
“I’m always home watching guys like Chuck race down there, so it will be cool to race him. Matt always goes, plus the usual crowd. This is really the first time we’ve stepped out of the RoC with the 12 car, so we’re looking forward to seeing how we fair. We’ve been doing well in RoC, so it will be nice to race some of the other guys too.”
As with any Tour-type Modified event nowadays, getting just one win during the week at New Smyrna will be a tough task, but well within the possibility for the 12 team.
“That’d be wild to say we won a race at Speedweeks. Anything is possible,” Jankowiak said. “Tyler (Rypkema) won a race down there, he’s a RoC guy. Chuck (Hossfeld) runs well, Jimmy (Zacharias) too. All the guys we run with run well down there. We expect to be in the mix. We are coming down with a built motor, don’t know how that’s going to stack up with the spec stuff, but it looks like the rules work well.”
But a big trip comes with a big cost, even with the commitment of the McGrath team, the bunch is still looking for any and all help with sponsorship for February.
“We’re definitely looking for anyone who wants to come on board, it’s going to be a big bill. We’re putting the word out to try and getting anything that could help. We got plenty of room on the car for anyone who wants in, we love having new people involved. We’re a good group of racers, just looking for some partners who want to help us out and get there name out there.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos