Monday October 31, 2005
By Brian Danko CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE VERSION
The records will show no championships on the modified tour and no wins but the
respect by everyone on the modified tour is immense.
are talking about the team of Tony Ferrante, Jr. and his father, Tony, Sr.
They have been apart of the modified tour forever and the elder Ferrante has
been apart of modified racing since the 1950's.
don't miss it as much as I used too." Tony, Jr. when asked on the phone last
week if the news was true. "The last few years we had been cutting back more and
more but then everytime I'd think about quitting, I'd say to myself, 'how can
you not do this.'
Ferrante and his family own a large body shop on the outskirts of New York City
and that keeps the younger Tony quite busy running the business as his father
has for the most part retired.
"We have 10 employees and our shop is about 5000 square feet. We usually do
about 20-25 cars a week and we also have 3 truck drivers (wreckers) going at any
While Tony and his father and crew will miss the 'competition' it was beginning to ware on Tony, Jr.
"Our business has afforded us to do this. About 90% of our car was financed from
money made in the shop and with being as busy as we are, I am trying to be more
responsible for running the business."
When I talked with Tony on the phone, every couple of minutes, he'd apologize
and put me on hold while he took care of his clients and customers.
When drivers talk about quitting, it usually because the money tree has run out or family commitments take over and while Tony is quitting because of the business, he isn't selling everything.
am keeping my car and the hauler. But I have sold all of the double equipment
that I have owned. I figure if I want to run a race at Riverhead or somewhere
else, I'll have it but it would be only to run a couple of events." Tony said
with his Long Island accent.
While Tony has never tasted the champagne from victory lane, he has been runner
up twice on the tour, once at Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania and the other
at the Thompson International Speedway during the Thompson 300, his favorite
"That is the one that I really wanted to have." Tony said with a hint of sadness
in his voice. "Mike Stefanik (winner) said he would have really like to see me
win the race but that he had a job to do also."
Although Tony has had his share of success, he feels its getting more difficult
still love to compete but its getting harder to stay competitive. Look at the
competition on the modified tour."
While he admits that he is ready to give it up, he isn't so sure about his
father, who has been at the racing game for almost 50 years.
"His desire to compete is still there and as strong as it ever was" Tony said
with a laugh.
When I asked Tony if he knew the respect in which he and his father are treated
with, he reluctantly admitted it and said that is the one thing he treasures the
"Everyone has always treated me, my dad and the whole team with respect. I
appreciate that more than anything else. I feel that we give that to our
competitors and they are just repaying it."
While I asked Eddie Flemke, Jr., whom the Ferrantes have bought their cars from
at RaceWorks, Eddie, said it would be tough with his friend not there week after
"We have always joked because he is like a brother to me and his dad was real
close to my father. It will be awful tough not to compete against him anymore
but he is always just a phone call away."
When Eddie was asked about the respect factor, Eddie put it this way. "If you
can't respect Tony and his father, then you can't respect yourself. They have
always given much more than they have ever taken."
Eddie said he will miss the usual pre race talks or the post race discussions
and he knows others on the tour will feel the same way.
"Tony and his father have always been there for me but for many others on the
When you are in a competitive sport like auto racing, sometimes you don't always
see eye to eye with other drivers and officials but according to Ed Cox, NASCAR
modified tour director, with the Ferrantes' it is completely different.
know that all of the tour directors around the country would like to have 50
Tony Ferrantes competing every week. Tony and his entire team have always
treated our NASCAR officials with respect and I will miss them greatly, as will
Cox is a big believer in the family concept of racing and the Ferrantes are a
testament to the racing family.
"To look at Tony and Mr. Ferrante, that is what you have, a great family."
chuckled when Ed said Mr. Ferrante and it's only because to everyone on the
tour, he is addressed Mr. Ferrante and nothing else.
"That is what he is, Mr. Ferrante." Ed said. "He has earned that title."
While Tony is quite busy with the family business, he is also a big lover of
sports and living in the New York City area, you have your choice of
live only about 15 minutes from Yankee Stadium." Tony said, not hiding his love
for the Yankees by usually displaying the Yankee logo on his modified.
"I love to go to the Garden (Madison Square) but I also love going to New York for plays or just going for dinner."
While living in the big city, the water is only a few minutes away and Tony also
has his boat that he will go out and play in.
"You know, racing is very expensive. For what I spend on racing on a weekend, I
can have a lot of friends over, take them to the city for dinner or out on the
boat the whole day and then be just a few minutes from home."
While Ferrante will no longer be a part of the modified tour, the friendships he
takes with him will last a lifetime.
"We have made so many great friends and just because I'm still not racing,
doesn't mean that I won't continue to be friends with them."
For the younger Ferrante, he has watched many great drivers run for his father,
and although he was shown the ropes by many, besides Eddie Flemke, Jr., one
other driver gave a lot to Tony Jr.
"Tommy Baldwin helped me build my first car. Tommy could be real tough on me but
it was to make me a better driver. What he showed and taught me was how to
when the checkered flag falls on the season finale for the modified tour, it
will cap another season but for one driver and team it will cap a great career,
even if the statistics don't show it.
OVER BEFORE ITS OVER
T.C. holding a slim 36 point margin heading into the season finale but before
the race got into high gear, Christopher was involved in an accident on lap 10
and the Plainville, CT driver was through for the afternoon and in turn handed
the championship to Pennsylvania's Tony Hirschman.
The title was fifth for the underrated champion who will be honored next month
at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT on Friday, December 16th.
the next couple of weeks we'll have an in depth story on yet another title for
Hirschman, who now stands just one championship behind Mike Stefanik.
Jerry Marquis ended the 2005 season by winning the 125 lap World Series with
Chuck Hossfeld second and third to Doug Coby.
THOMPSON STILL UNDER THE WEATHER
While everyone was finally happy to see sunshine in the forecast, the Thompson
International Speedway still came in for some lousy weather as much of Saturdays
outlaw features were halted when light rain and snow, yes, snow showers hit the
That meant the already dragged out World Series was set to have 15 features run
Sunday and with an old Connecticut blue law which states that engines cannot
fire at the track until noon on Sunday, it means a long day for everyone.
While the World Series is a great concept, it is an event, which I feel the
modified tour doesn't need to be a part of.
Even without the tour, the track would be able to produce an event that will pack the pits and generate a large enough front gate to make the show a success.
Weather isn't something that anyone can control but when you are running such a major show with over 600 race teams competing, trying to get it all done in one weekend, without the help of Mother Nature, is nearly impossible.