As far as Timmy Solomito is concerned, he is living a personal dream.
Solomito, 25, races full time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour as driver of the No. 16 modified for Flamingo Motorsports and team owner Eric Sanderson. It’s an opportunity he could have only dreamed about when he was 8 years old and watching modifieds at New York’s Riverhead Raceway.
“I remember sitting on the backstretch at Riverhead Raceway. I was maybe 7 or 8,” Solomito recalled. “I had my headphones on and the Tour race had just gotten over. I said to my dad: ‘Do you think I’ll ever get to drive a modified?’”
It wasn’t easy, but Solomito made his dreams come true.
Racing is part of Solomito’s DNA. His father, Jerry, was a low-budget racer who competed at Riverhead Raceway and the now-defunct Islip Speedway. Solomito’s great-grandfather on his father’s side was also a racer, driving midgets at another defunct New York track, Freeport Speedway.
With that much racing history in the family, it was natural that Timmy Solomito became involved in the sport. He and his two older brothers, Shawn and Jerry Jr., all became racers like their father.
“We’d go to the track, Riverhead Raceway, and we didn’t miss a Saturday night,” Solomito said. “He (Jerry Solomito Sr.) ended up selling everything and getting us into racing. I’m the youngest, I have two other brothers, Jerry and Shawn, and we started in go-karts. We raced in WKA (World Karting Ass’n) and traveled the national circuit for four or five years. We raced everywhere we could, Indiana, Charlotte, all the way to Jasper, Fla. — all over the place racing. It has kind of just been a family thing for many years and it has kept us together.
“You get so busy and so sidetracked with your regular day job that you don’t really find many things that hold families together and racing has kind of been the glue that has kept us all stuck together for so many years.”
When it came time to move into something bigger, Solomito claims there was no other option than to climb into a modified.
“My dad always thought they were awesome. You come and watch a modified race and I don’t know if you would go back and watch the late models,” Solomito said. “There is just something about a modified. Low to the ground, 50-inch wide tires hanging out on the front end. There is just nothing like a modified.
“I never even thought about (racing) a late model, I never even thought about a fendered car. It was always modifieds. I went Saturday night racing to watch modifieds. Late models went on track; that was when I was standing in line at the concession stand.”
Solomito spent his formative years racing a modified at his hometown track, Riverhead Raceway. Alongside his brothers and his parents, Solomito soon began to make a name for himself at the quarter-mile bullring.
“Growing up on Long Island and racing Riverhead every Saturday night was awesome,” Solomito said. “It’s a tight quarter mile, always rubbing and racing and running hard with a lot of good competition.”