When the moment came for Jason D’Antimo to be crowned 2022 Mini Stock Champion at Sunset Speedway, there was only one reaction – surprise. After all, he had originally started the season with the goal of getting a heat win and running in the top-10 consistently.
“It wasn’t until the middle of the season we noticed we were second in points and had a shot at a great season points finish,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “And immediately after that, we had weeks of trouble – crashed out Lap 1 of a feature, started a feature last due to a bad fuel pump, bad finish due to an engine miss, and then a blown engine.
“From that point on we just kept reminding ourselves that in racing anything can happen, and just kept digging for every single point and in the end, we came out on top. A shout out to Cameron McGlashan for being a great competitor. I look forward to racing him hopefully for a feature win next season.”
Although the championship was the biggest moment of the season, being able to secure his first heat win was “a great feeling holding the checkered flag.” As he added, the moment “made it feel like the hard work was starting to pay off performance wise.”
The success was thanks to a lot of work by the team, dating back to January when they started getting the car ready.
“I still think there were items on our to do list that weren’t done in time for opening night,” he recalled. “It is a never-ending process of refinement and evaluation. During the racing season it’s pretty normal to spend 12-18 person hours a week spread among the crew to maintain and work on the car, and that doesn’t include mechanical failures, damage repair, or set up changes.”
With the championship in hand, the focus for D’Antimo shifts to becoming a weekly top-three feature contender each week.
“I think we are close but need to work on our corner speed,” he commented. “We give up too much in the center and off the corner to the fastest cars, and it shows at the end of the straightway and on the stop watch.”
For D’Antimo, the want to get behind the wheel came from his father George D’Antimo Sr. racing at Pinecrest and other local tracks through the early 1950s and 1960s.
“I didn’t know much about his racing until he built a street stock in our family garage with my brother George at the wheel for Sunset,” he recalled. “Then I got interested in the cars, went to the track with them, took notice of some of the old pictures of my Dad’s race cars, and we watched NASCAR races on Sunday when on TV. So, I guess I was born into it, it just took a long time to find the right opportunity to do it.”
Based on his own experience, he says those interested should go to the track, get a pit pass, and talk to drivers in divisions you’re interested in racing in.
“Check out the cars and the rule book and get a feel for the ongoing weekly expenses of racing and the cost of buying or building a car,” he explained. “If you have no experience at all, best advice would be to find a race team you can volunteer to be a crew member on. It is really easy to under estimate the amount of time, support, tools, and resources needed to maintain and race a car. And once you start racing, set realistic goals, finish every race, and continuously work to make small improvements.”