Pretty just doesn’t get it done on the racetrack.
Decades ago, famed Long Island driver Cookie Visconti was embarking on a new racing career. He would finish second, third, fourth — always near the top but never No. 1.
Until a swift kick in the . . . door.
Cookie always wanted to keep his car clean and pristine. But after one of the owners kicked a dent in the car door and told him now the car’s perfect condition was no longer a concern, Cookie had to win. Which is exactly what he did in the next race.
John Visconti, Cookie’s son and a driver, now co-owns Visconti Motorsports with his wife, Marie. Cookie is there for all the races and returned the favor for their team’s young driver, CJ Lehmann.
After several finishes near the top, Cookie kicked a dent in Lehmann’s car and the 25-year-old driver from Shirley went on to win the July 9 Modified Crates race at Riverhead Raceway.
“I think it was just more of a good little laugh,” Lehmann said. “When you go out to the racetrack, you go out there for one reason and that’s to win. It’s kind of a battle every single week.”
When John decided he wanted to move to an ownership position, he always had his father in mind. That’s why despite racing a No. 1 car during most of his standout career, John wanted his driver to race with No. 74 — Cookie’s number.
“I did it for the most part because I wanted to give my Dad a little something to see his number on the racetrack,” Visconti said. “Even years later, it pulled at his heartstrings a little bit.”
Lehmann understood the significance of the win and doing it with Cookie’s number.
“For Cookie to see us win that race and be there and be a part of it, I believe was an honor for him seeing his old number out there winning races,” he said.
Lehmann likes the friendly banter environment of racing with the Visconti family. He appreciates the dedication they pour into putting out the best cars possible and knows the family’s history in the sport. As car owners, it’s everything Lehmann is looking for.
“You can’t really ask more from your car owner than that they want results,” Lehmann said. “It doesn’t matter what it takes.”
And for the Visconti family, involvement in racing keeps the competition alive. John, 53, knows there’s no famed NASCAR career in his future, but he and his family enjoy their time together at the track — with victories like on July 9th making it even sweater.
“It gave my father great joy to carry that trophy,” Visconti said.