Sanderson Retiring, Solomito Looking For A Ride

Sanderson Retiring
The No. 16 Flamingo Motorsports modified team will cease racing operations after this weekend. (Dick Ayers photo)

THOMPSON, Conn. – Timmy Solomito confirmed prior to Sunday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour finale at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park that his current car owner, Eric Sanderson, will retire after the conclusion of the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing.

Solomito has driven Sanderson’s Flamingo Motorsports No. 16 modified since the start of the 2015 NASCAR modified season, earning nine Tour wins, 30 top fives, 49 top 10s and five poles in that span.

The pairing finished second in the final point standings in 2017, their highest season ranking together. Solomito sits seventh in points going into Sunday afternoon’s finale.

“It’s going to be one final ride with car owner Eric Sanderson, Paul Les and crew chief Sly Szaban,” Solomito wrote on Facebook late Saturday night. “I can’t say enough about the entire group of guys I’ve gotten to work with over the last five seasons. I remember the day at the end of my rookie season in 2014, getting the phone call from Sly that he would love to help me go win my first tour race. After that, we set out to do just that.

“Nine wins, six poles and 1,300 laps led together later, it’s been a hell of a ride,” Solomito added. “I’m beyond thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given to make a name for myself on the (NASCAR) Modified Tour, which would never have been possible without this team’s help and guidance. I wish Eric and his wife, Diane, the best on their retirement from racing. We’re hoping for a strong day tomorrow in the last race for the Flamingo Motorsports No. 6 team.

“Plans for myself for 2020 are unknown right now, but the road won’t end here!”

Sanderson is a two-time champion car owner on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, collecting the crown in 2006 with the late Mike Stefanik and again in 2013 with now-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece at the controls.

He owns both Sanderson-MacLeod and Flamingo Motorsports, both based in Palmer, Mass.

Sanderson-MacLeod designs, manufactures, and supplies twisted wire brushes, while Flamingo Motorsports is a one-stop shop for motorcycles, ATVs, side-by-sides, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, and jet skis.

The speed-parts business which became his racing operation has always carried the unique moniker – something Sanderson discussed recently when he was named the grand marshal for the NAPA Fall Final 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway a few weeks back.

“I was helping Chris Kopec out at Riverside with tires and that’s how we came up with the name Flamingo Motorsports,” said Sanderson. “Chris asked me what I wanted to put on the side of the car and I told him let’s make it Flamingo Motorsports out of Orlando, Fla. We had a lot of fun with that, (because) people actually thought we raced flamingos in Orlando. We ran part time on the Tour in 1995 and we’ve been full-time on the Tour since 1996. To have had Chris, Rob Summers, Mike Stefanik, Ryan Preece, and now Timmy Solomito driving the car … it’s all special to me.

“My best memory in racing was winning our first race with Chris at Holland Speedway in 1999, and then winning our first championship with Mike in 2006. We also won the last Modified Tour race that was held at Martinsville in 2009 with Mike driving the car, and I still have that grandfather clock in my office,” Sanderson added. “It’s all been special to me.”