RPW Column By: DYLAN FRIEBEL / RPW – JOHNSTOWN, NY – Brian Calabrese, the winner of the Northeast Crate Nationals King of Dirt event in 2018, is heading to South Carolina on Saturday to run the Short Track Super Series’ “Return To Racing” to start his 2020 season.
“Not being able to race around here made this decision an easy one,” Calabrese said. “I saw the Modified guys at Tri-County (Racetrack) Thursday (and racing there Friday) and I thought the track was kinda short. I then saw pictures of the facility we are going to Saturday, at Cherokee Speedway. That looks like a beautiful track and we’re going to win.”
This won’t be the first time on track for the driver of the #21 this season, however. He was part of the closed practice session held last Saturday at the Fonda Speedway for County officials.
“We unloaded one the best race cars I’ve ever had last weekend,” he said. “Actually, both of my cars were right on the line. We had a small issue with the fuel pickup in our new fuel cell. I’m also trying something new on our older car and it seems to be working well. If we can draw well, I believe we will be a top three to five car.”
While Calabrese calls Fonda home on a weekly basis, promoter Brett Deyo and his team have laid down new clay on the speedway, and last Saturday was the first time many competitors, including Brian, got to experience it.
“The surface is beautiful,” he said. “I was invited to be there from 8-10 am, so I was the second car to hit the track. It was a little tacky like a heat race would be for a normal Saturday night.”
What was his impression of the track?
“The new clay did away with a lot of the bumps and it was smooth,” he said. “Sadly, my time didn’t allow me to run it when it was smooth and slick. However, when I drove back by later, after many laps had been put on it, there wasn’t much dust at all. I;m really looking forward to getting on that track if we get to race at Fonda this year.”
Since his win as a relative unknown to the fans in that crown jewel event in 2018, a lot has changed for Brian.
“We’ve had a lot of sponsors come on board since then,” he said. “This year, I have the best equipment I’ve ever had. I still have the car I started with on my own. We work on it sometimes because we can’t forget where we started.”
Calabrese is also thankful for the support he and his team have gotten.
“My wife is a huge supporter,” he said. “She supports this whole operation and doesn’t tell me “no” when I have to work on the car. I put a lot aside for it, but she’s always told me, from day one, if I’m going to do it, I have to do it 100%, and we are.”
This will be his first ever that Brian will see the Carolina’s signature red clay, and what better time than the his first race of the season, the “Return to Racing.” He’s ready to break the ice, just like everyone else in the Northeast, and will do so on Saturday.