Since Shawn Solomito stepped up to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on a full-time basis, he’s had the worst luck possible. If a part can break, it has been broken on Solomito’s No. 75 Modified owned by former NWMT champion Wayne Anderson. With hopes of shaking their bad luck, the duo is now making a meaningful number change ahead of Sunday’s Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT).
One might now be saying “A number change? How’s that going to turn their luck around? Are racers really that superstitious?” Well, the answer to that last question is yes. Racers really are that superstitious, especially Anderson, according to Solomito. But this isn’t just any regular number change. This number may bring Solomito help in the form of a little angel.
On Sunday, Solomito’s car will have the number 48 on the doors and roof. It isn’t for Jimmie Johnson; it’s for Jason Trinca, a seven-year-old boy who was killed in a car accident on Long Island, along with his mother, Keri in 2011. Jason raced go-karts at Riverhead Raceway with the help of Solomito. Jason’s number was 48.
“With Wayne being as superstitious of a racer as he is he decided that we had to change the color and the number,” Solomito told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Since we had to clip it again after Thompson we decided to put a new body on it and now it’s black. Wayne wanted to go to 45 because that was his old Tour number. I said 48 and he said, ‘Why? What’s 48 mean to you?’ Obviously I said Jason Trinca.”
Solomito and Jason’s father, Jay, became friends in 2009. Jay spotted for Solomito at Riverhead when Solomito won the track championship in 2012, and again last year. Solomito’s wife, Kristy, became best friends with Keri Trinca. The loss of little Jason and Keri was devastating to the Riverhead Raceway community, but especially to Shawn and Kristy Solomito.
“I was running a SK car at Waterford when Kristy found out,” recalled Solomito. “We were at the finale for Waterford on (Saturday) practicing. Kristy came running over just broken down crying. I asked her what was wrong and she told us that Keri and Jason were killed in a car accident. Obviously you just go numb. You don’t know what to do or what to say. We were out of state racing in Connecticut. They were supposed to race Saturday and Sunday at Riverhead with the go kart. It’s just a numb feeling. We finished our heat race and headed home. I went home on the ferry and went to the hospital and spent two or three hours with Jay and then caught the last ferry and went back to Connecticut to race on Sunday.”
Riverhead Raceway ran the first Jason Trinca Memorial go-kart race that year. Solomito ran Jason’s number 48 and paint
scheme on his own champ kart and won that first memorial race. A year later, Solomito renumbered his No. 66 Modified for the season finale at Riverhead. He changed it to 48 and won his first track championship with Jay Trinca spotting for him.
The No. 48 has been good to Solomito on the few occasions he’s used it. It’s brought him good luck each time. The number brings out the best in Solomito.
“It’s not pressure, but I just want to make the Trinca family proud and run up front like Jason would and try to change our luck around.”
So far this year Solomito has been fast. He won the pole for the season opener at the Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) and was a true contender for the win before getting caught up in a multi-car crash in the closing laps. At the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT), Solomito started seventh, but then suffered an early flat tire and eventually crashed hard in
turn three. He’s had fast cars, but nothing to show for it.
“I feel like we have faster cars this year than we’ve ever had. It’s just a matter of luck. We’re just always behind the eight ball. But hopefully with the color change and the new number then it’ll change our luck for the better.”
Solomito has had a winning record with Jason’s number on his car. If that continues on Sunday and Solomito nets his first NWMT win, he said he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to even comprehend it.
“If that happens Sunday I don’t think there will be any words to describe it. I think it would just be pure emotion that breaks us all down.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Shawn Solomito