Dodorico chases first win at Riverhead

There always seems to be a cop chase in movies.

Yet, Paul Dodorico, who retired from a long career on the police force three years ago, never viewed car chases as pressure-filled events. He saw them as relief from a stressful job. Maybe that's because Dodorico's "chases" are behind the wheel of his 1937 Chevy Coupe during legends races at Riverhead Raceway.

"Certainly working there, I learned how to deal with pressures and very serious things in life," the 58-year-old said about his days as a homicide detective for the Suffolk County Police Department. "It puts racing in a different perspective. It should remain fun."

Racing has always been an escape for the Kings Park native and Miller Place resident. But it took some work to come back home.

Riverhead discontinued legends racing after the 2000 season, and it wasn't until Dodorico and a few others convinced the Cromarty family to bring it back for some exhibitions in 2008 that the discipline returned to Long Island. Currently, there are 11 legends races each year -- a little more than half a season.

During the Riverhead hiatus, Dodorico won three championships at upstate Bethel Motor Speedway. But despite 19 top 10s and 10 top fives, Dodorico has never won at Riverhead. Said Dodorico: "I'm getting near the end of my chances. It does eat at me."

This season, Dodorico has found the fountain of youth, with two top 10s in three races. He's competing for owner Kevin Strumpf, whose son Justin is just two points behind leader Chris Young in the legends class. Dodorico and Justin have developed a bond. "He's like a sponge," Dodorico said. "He loves to learn and he loves to race. But I always tell him, he better stay out of my way."

Of course, Dodorico is kidding on the last part. He knows there are more serious things in life than winning car chases . . . er, races.

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