Vinny Biondolillo is in his third year of racing in the modified division at Riverhead Raceway, which doesn't mean much until you know his age.
He's only 16.
He became the youngest NASCAR modified All-American series racer in Riverhead Raceway history in 2012 when he was 14. He was allowed to participate back then thanks to a ruling made in 2011 by NASCAR, which lowered the minimum age for drivers to 14 after individual tracks requested younger drivers be allowed to race. In joining the modified races, the featured event at the track, Biondolillo began competing against drivers nearly four times his age.
"I was not really at all intimidated," Biondolillo said. "Financially, I was just trying to keep the wheels on the car. I held my own and I think I did a pretty good job. No one ever said anything to me, but I think some people thought we couldn't have done it, so it felt good at times to prove people wrong."
This season, Biondolillo's unique experience is paying dividends.
Biondolillo, who lives in Farmingville and is heading into his senior year at Sachem East High School, has been coming close the past few weeks to securing his first career win.
"We've been doing pretty well lately and our average finish the past few weeks has been sixth, so we're getting there," Biondolillo said. "It's always tough at Riverhead because there's so much good competition. But it's been great."
Biondolillo is the nephew of the late figure eight standout Joe Biondolillo Jr., one of the all-time leading winners in the class. His father, Andrew, drove in drag races. Biondolillo started racing go-karts when he was 9. He competed for three years and won three championships. In 2011, he transitioned into a legends car. Now in his third season in modifieds, Biondolillo believes a win is near.
"I've learned a lot, just about the car itself and my driving and everything, really, has got a lot better. Even setting up the car has been better," he said. "It's possible we can win now. From two years ago, our whole program has stepped up quite a few notches."