Despite the sorrow, the No. 44 will ride once again with Bobby Santos at the wheel, starting this coming Saturday night at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s annual Icebreaker. The home track team will help to usher in the new ACT/PASS Outlaw Open Modified Series, which will consist of six rounds in 2021 at ‘The Big T.’
According to Santos, the decision to ultimately go ahead and race this season was not too difficult for Tinio’s sons.
“Sully had decided to take a few years off and then decided to go racing again. Told his boys he wanted to go racing again. Even with the unfortunate passing of him, they had already started the preparation to get back. That was one of his final wishes. Honestly, I don’t think it was a difficult decision for Damon and Lawney Tinio, they knew it was something their dad wanted to do and decided to carry on,” Santos said on the Speed51 Bullring.
After concentrating on his Pavement Sprint Car schedule in the Midwest in 2019 and 2020, and putting in some Modified starts for an injured Dave Sapienza in 2019 and then one-off in a second car for Sap in 2020 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where picked up back-to-back wins at ‘The Magic Mile,’ Santos is excited to being back in the No. 44 where he ran a mix of part and full-time schedules on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour from 2012 to 2018.
It means a lot, we had so much fun racing together, and success to go with it. They’re kind of like family, we enjoy each other’s company, and we love racing together. They have the same guys working on it and they prepare a great racecar.
While the NASCAR Tour and Thompson parted ways after 2020, the spectacle of racing Icebreaker weekend in a Tour-type Modified is just as great to many in the Modified community, including Santos. With five career NWMT wins at ‘The Big T,’ as well as one in the NEMA Midgets, the memories for the third-generation driver from just up the road in Franklin, Massachusetts stretch back even further at this grand old track.
“I grew up going there, starting at The Little T right next door, and watching guys like Ted Christopher race there. I learned a lot from watching races there. Being the race track closest to home gives me pride when I do well, and we have a lot of support there. The Hoenig family, everything about there pushes me to do well there.”
Additionally, Santos is grateful to simply be racing in the Northeast once again.
It’s absolutely awesome. I didn’t get home a lot to race, I ran only one Modified race all year. It was definitely a bummer because of all of that. To get back to Thompson, back to racing in Connecticut, and back to racing with the Tinios is all incredibly exciting for this year.
For the time being, the participation of Santos with Tinio racing is only marked in pen for this Saturday, April 10 at Thompson, as well as the following Saturday, April 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the ACT/PASS Northeast Classic. Beyond that, stayed tuned.
“Right now, we’re shooting for the Icebreaker at Thompson and the Northeast Classic the next week at New Hampshire. After that, we’ll take it one race at a time and see how things go. The intention is to do as much as the budget and my racing schedule allow. Still got my Sprint Car ride in the Midwest and my fulltime job is preparing those cars. It keeps me busy, but we’ll find the time to race Modifieds.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51