By: Tommy Hughes
When thinking of the state of New Jersey, regular enthusiasts of automobile racing may instantly think of the local short tracks. The paved facilities of Old Bridge Township and Wall Stadium, and the dirt facilities of Bridgeport and New Egypt. Other enthusiasts may think of the New Jersey Motorsports Park road course, or the recognizable sport heroes of Dallenbach, Evernham, and Truex.
Stephen Mallozzi’s journey has been emotionally based. A member of Generation Z, it was being able to name car brands, collect die-cast cars, and the art of video games that introduced him to the sport he loves so much. Becoming a competitor, Mallozi took up karting with hopes to one day enter the foray of stock car racing.
Sounds to be the perfect plot for a sports movie from Walt Disney Pictures. Yet Mallozzi’s focus on the little things is what keeps him grounded. A focus on spending time with his inspired Mallozzi to put his racing dreams on hold. His father was battling Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, and Mallozzi was unsure how much time his father would have left. As a result, Mallozzi walked away from the sport he loved so much. He switched his focus to commentary, eventually working for the ACC Network for a while, while also becoming a writer for tobychristie.com. Yet as his father overcame his illness, Mallozzi realized that his athletic mindset on automobile racing is what kept him going, and what he needed to continue to strive for.
Mallozzi made his way to North Carolina. While focused on his dream and his fire reignited, he remembered to keep his expectations realistic. Was there a path to make that dream a reality? After making a few starts in late-model racing, Mallozzi was able to obtain a license to compete in NASCAR. Becoming a developmental driver for Reame Brothers Racing, Mallozzi was able to make his NASCAR-sanctioned debut in what is now known as the Craftsman Truck Series. That experience at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was what led to another opportunity this past April in the Long John Silver’s 200 at Martinsville Speedway. Driving back to Charlottesville after the 200’s rain-delayed conclusion, he was serving tables at the local Outback Steakhouse the following afternoon. He sold his truck just so he was able to make the trip to Madison, Illinois to compete at World Wide Technology Raceway this past month — utilizing the power of social media to continue to make his dream possible and attain financial backing.
Mallozzi is currently licensed to compete at NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series-sanctioned events at oval facilities 1.25 miles and under. Now having competed at World Wide Technology Raceway this past month, Mallozzi hopes to be approved to compete at sanctioned facilities 1.5 miles and greater. Mallozzi could attempt to qualify for upcoming events at Richmond Raceway, Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, and the Milwaukee Mile. While he would have the exposure, the length of those facilities would not help in Mallozzi’s desire for full approval to compete in the league.
“The Goal is…to find (the team and myself) at a Pocono or a Kansas, and then, hopefully, get approved to do Talladega and Daytona.”
Mallozzi continues to live out his dream. His way, with realistic expectations. As Mallozzi prepares for law school in the coming months, he knows that if he wants to convert this dream into a full-time gig, the time to go is now. For the sport of stock car racing, Charlotte, North Carolina is the central hub. With a focus on the primary and second-generation athletes in Busch, Hamlin, Elliott, and Dillon among others, the Cinderella stories of Bayne and Fedewa are often overlooked when focusing on the next generation of competitors. As the 29th season of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series continues across Fox Sports and the Motor Racing Network, Mallozzi hopes to be back competing in the NCTS this year — hopefully, with backing from Outback Steakhouse.
Stephen Mallozzi can be followed on Twitter: @drivermallozzi
Visit Stephen’s website: stephenmallozzigear.com