When the Valenti Modified Racing Series hits the track this weekend at the Waterford Speedbowl it will be an event celebrating the start of a new season, but also a weekend reserved for mourning the loss of one of the division’s cornerstone individuals.
Longtime Valenti Modified Racing Series team owner Chuck Montville of Windsor Locks passed away unexpectedly Thursday evening. Montville was 56 years old.
When the Valenti Modified Racing Series began in 2004, Montville ran part-time with driver Les Hinckley III of Windsor Locks piloting his car. Hinckley raced to two victories that first year.
The pair have been together in the series ever since.
“He was like my brother,” Hinckley said late Thursday night. “He was another brother to me. If I needed anything, no was never a part of the equation. If I needed something he was there and it was the same for him to me. Outside of work, I spent more time with him than anybody else. I don’t know if I could put into words what he meant to me, and I know I’m not alone in that category.”
Montville’s history in Modified racing as a team owner and crew member goes back decades.
Hinckley’s 17 career victories in the Valenti Modified Racing Series, all behind the wheel of Montville owned cars, is second all-time in series history. And Hinckley said not only was Montville known for always putting a good car on the track, but his generosity in helping his competition try to do the same was well known.
“People came over to our trailer constantly to borrow stuff and no wasn’t an option to him,” Hinckley said. “If he had it he would give it to you, if you needed something he would help you. There were times I would just say to him, ‘Why are you doing that?’ and he would say ‘They needed help.’ He was a better man for it. He deserved better than what he got at the end.
“It’s difficult to wrap my mind around everything right now. I was a 10-year old kid at [the former] Riverside Park [Speedway] and my father was at Riverside with an antique club driving one of his old Coupes that somebody else owned and while my father was out on the racetrack, Chuck was the one keeping an eye on me. Our relationship goes so much deeper than him being my car owner.”
Hinckley said the team will not compete in Sunday’s Valenti Modified Racing Series season opener at the Waterford Speedbowl.
“It’s a very big loss of a longtime supporter of the series,” said Scott Tapley, who took over as Valenti Modified Racing Series director last November. “I didn’t get a chance to work with him, but I know very much about him from the kind words that everyone has spoken about him. It’s just tough, tough to take. We lost a terrific guy from the pit area and just a terrific guy all around.”
“It’s a terrible loss for the series. From a perspective of a race owner, but from a perspective of a good guy to have around, a good guy in our pit area, a good guy to turn to when you have a question, a good guy that’s there to be a friend to everybody.”
Tapley said series officials are putting together plans for memorializing Montville Sunday at the Waterford Speedbowl.