Timmy Solomito and Justin Bonsignore traded in go-karts for the real thing long ago, but some things never change.
Solomito, 24, of Islip, said the two childhood friends used to compete in go-kart races in Maine, North Carolina and Indiana when he was 8 years old. They crossed paths again in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s Riverhead 200 and Solomito pulled ahead on a late restart for his second tour win last Saturday at Riverhead Raceway.
Make that another Riverhead 200 victory for a local racer after Bonsignore, 28, of Holtsville, won both WMT 200-lap races at Riverhead last season. Bonsignore, a decorated racer on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, which holds races throughout the Northeast, took second in Riverhead’s biggest race this time around. The tour will be back at Riverhead Aug. 27.
“It was huge,” said Solomito, who said he competed weekly at Riverhead from 2008-2014 and has been racing with the WMT since 2011. “Growing up, your whole life you dream of winning modified races and winning them in front of your hometown crowd. When you can win a huge event like the Riverhead 200 at home, it’s a great day. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
“The last laps are the only ones that count, but we were smooth all race. We didn’t want to overdo it. Riverhead’s a track you can get yourself in trouble quick, especially if you’re over-aggressive. 200 laps is a really long race so you’ve got to make sure you keep all four tires to be there at the end.”
Solomito said it was a difficult task to hold racers behind him on a small and furious track, but he trusted his car and equipment.
“You’re not just racing the competition, you’re racing the track,” Solomito said before praising his friend Bonsignore. “He’s got a good team and has had a lot of success at Riverhead. Saturday night was great because we not only won, but we beat one of the best in the business.”
Solomito, however, is no underdog.
The youngest in a racing family that includes brothers Shawn, 27, and Jerry, 29, Timmy has 14 NASCAR Modified division wins at Riverhead and is coming into his own with two WMT wins this season. He finished within the top 10 nine times last year, but didn’t earn his first career tour win until April 10.
Solomito hopes to continue his roll.
“Things are starting to gel together and go really well for us,” he said. “We’ve been really competitive this year and had some fast race cars. This is the second event we’ve won on the tour this year. Hopefully we can snag a few more.”
Shawn Solomito, Islip - 262
John Fortin, Holtsville – 261
David H. Brigati, Calverton – 242
Howie Brode, East Islip - 240
Vinny Biondolillo, Farmingville - 236
Tonight: Fireworks, 66th-year celebration, Demolition Derby. 66-lap NASCAR Modifieds (time trials), Late Models, Figure Eights, Super Pro Trucks, Grand Enduro.