Twice As Nice: DiMatteo Brothers Ready To Move Up After 2017 Championships For Both

Cory DiMatteo (left) and Dana DiMatteo (right) (Photos: Stafford Motor Speedway/Driscoll MotorSports Photography – Cory & Passing Bird Photography – Dana)

For many in weekly short track racing, it’s said that often when you’re not looking for a championship it somehow finds you.

For the brothers DiMatteo, that fact was doubly true in 2017.

The 2017 season locally in the SK Light Modified division was the year of the DiMatteo brothers, with Cory DiMatteo winning the SK Light Modified championship as a rookie at Stafford Motor Speedway and Dana DiMatteo scoring the SK Light Modified title as a rookie at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

The Farmington drivers will move on in 2018 from the SK Light Modified divisions, but it will be a season they will remember fondly.

“It’s probably something that we’ll remember for a long long time,” Cory DiMatteo said. “It doesn’t happen like that a lot. Now that we’re probably going to move up it’s definitely going to be a lot harder for us to accomplish something like that.”

The brother’s had each of their season’s start very differently.

At Stafford Cory DiMatteo won the first two SK Light Modified events of the year. But at the Speedbowl, Dana DiMattoe actually missed the first event of the season.

“I was pretty disgusted with myself to be honest,” Dana DiMatteo said. “It was kind of embarrassing that I didn’t get the car together for the first week. So I was pretty hard on myself, which made us strive to be better throughout the year.”

When he did get on track, Dana DiMatteo kicked off the season with a second place finish.

“That’s pretty much what held our season together,” Dana DiMatteo said.

Dana DiMatteo, 23, ended the year with three victories and 12 top-five’s in 12 starts. Andrew Molleur, who started all 13 of the track’s events, finished two points behind him in the standings in second.

“I was just happy that we were able to race every race without tearing the car up and pretty much coming back every week with what we had the previous week,” Dana DiMatteo said.

And while Dana DiMatteo’s season was consistent after missing the first event, Cory DiMatteo’s season at Stafford was wrought with highs and low.

“It definitely was cool to see it play out like that,” Cory DiMatteo said of opening with consecutive victories. “I know the first one we had some luck on our side. The second one was cool. It set the bar high for what I knew that we could accomplish for the year. I knew if we could win the first two there was no reason to think we couldn’t go out and try to win the rest of them.”

But the quick start out of the gate was followed by some struggles.

Cory DiMatteo held a 20-point lead in the standings after two events, but a few weeks later he found himself in seventh in the standings, 48 points off the lead.

“I definitely didn’t think we would win a championship,” Cory DiMatteo said. “My goal was just to win a few races and not to wreck. … Even after those first two wins, I still was just racing for wins and I wasn’t points racing. After we had a couple nights of bad luck and we were still in contention there, then I started points racing about halfway through the year.”

Cory DiMatteo, 20, eventually scored 10 consecutive top-six finishes to close out the season. He went into the final Friday night event six points behind David Arute in the division standings and ended the night taking the points lead to the final race. Cory DiMatteo finished fourth in the final event of the season to edge second place Daniel Wesson by four points in the standings.

“It’s probably something that we’ll remember for a long long time,” Cory DiMatteo said of the twin titles for the brothers. “It doesn’t happen like that a lot. Now that we’re probably going to move up it’s definitely going to be a lot harder for us to accomplish something like that. It’s definitely something that will stick with us for a long time.”

Said Dana DiMatteo: “We were pretty stoked. We went into the season not really thinking about championships, just trying to win as many races as possible, and if it happened it happened. At the end of the year when you look back on it, that we were both able to accomplish the same feat at two different race tracks, that says a lot about our team.”

Part of the joy for the brothers in winning the title is helping the other rather than being on track as competition against each other.

“It’s fun sometimes, but sometimes it’s not,” Cory DiMatteo said of racing in the same division for the brothers. “You can have a hard race and nothing really bad happens and it’s great. When you can help him out maybe a little bit it’s great. But sometimes it gets ugly and when it does it’s never good. I honestly think I prefer him off the track than on the track because help is so hard to find now. With him at the track helping me and me helping him at the track when he’s racing, that really does a lot to help both of us.”

Both brothers will pass on defending their championships to climb the ladder.

Cory DiMatteo is looking to move into an SK Modified for 2018.

“I don’t know where it’s going to be or how much it’s going to be,” Cory DiMatteo said. “The plan right now is to find a motor and get things rolling and try to race against the best of the best. … I definitely would have liked to go back and defend [the championship], but I have the opportunity to move up and you can’t really skip out on that once you have that opportunity.

“I would really love to race at Stafford on Friday nights. It’s something I really took a liking to, the track atmosphere and everything like that. But Waterford is definitely not out of the question by any means. We just really need to figure out our schedule and how it’s going to mesh for me and Dana and what’s going to work best for both of us.”

Dana DiMatteo is looking to run selected Tour Type Modified events in the area. He said the team has a Tour Type motor from a car they purchased from former Whelen Modified Tour driver Cole Powell.

“So we’re probably going to put that in my car and run the open shows for the [Tri-Track Open Modified Series] and probably the [two Open shows at Stafford Speedway] as well. I’m probably looking to run about 6-10 races this year. Just trying to get my feet wet and get an understanding for the car. There will be a big learning curve with that so we’ll just take it day by day.”

The DiMatteo brothers are featured in a RaceDayCT Unmuffled podcast short. Check it out at the RaceDayCT Patreon page.

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  1. I guess you can label the trend in the SK Light division as good or bad depending on which side of tradition you’re on. This is amazing stuff. Blowing in as rookies with clearly the best equipment available and none other then Jon Manafort of the Manafort Brothers as a backer. The expressions learning the ropes, paying your dues………..not applicable. Instant success then one and done. The next step not even limited to SK’s or a track. All options are on the table. Maybe the SK’s but where who knows. Full blown modified shows for sure. Experience, seat time, getting laps under your belt……….not needed apparently Things move so fast in the Lights it can make your head spin. I know one thing. I’m going to pay attention a lot more to new drivers and pretty much ignore the rookie designation.

  2. A lot of today’s young drivers have had access to good racing simulators. Quality simulation can add a lot of genuine experience in a short time. It certainly doesn’t “pay your dues”, but you’ll learn ropes you never knew existed.

    As a pilot, I’ve seen first hand just how well simulation can work, especially in worst case or totally sketchy situations. When you’re immersed in it, you completely lose the idea that it’s not real and get just as sweaty and scared as a real situation.

  3. Old man racer says:

    Both of these guys have been racing since 5 yrs. old.

  4. Just Wondering says:

    No shortage of talent in these two young men, wish them the best going forward. Hope to see them both at the NLWS in 2018!

  5. Barry nailed it once again with the simulators. Ryan Fearn said as much in his series from Racer Kid. He nicely scoffed at me when I suggested his priorities were misplaced and it turns out he was right.
    I want these guys to do it like we did. Spending hours building and experimenting with set ups and learning welding and race care fabrication techniques. That’s not the new reality for a lot of the high rollers. They buy equipment and knowledge and work on their racing skills with simulators and watching races on youtube. Judging from the non existent learning curve and the relative absence of bonehead crashes by these rookies it seems to work just fine.
    Don’t confuse this geezer with one that says the new reality is bad. If they show up and race I’m for it.
    If you Old Man Racer are telling me that young people with tons of experience move up all the time and win features and championships I’d ask you to name them. I’m thinking of people like Bo Gunning, Ted and Mike Christopher, Ryan and Alexandra Fearn with vast prior racing resume’s that were not instant championship contenders when they moved up. No these guys are different. What they accomplished was different. Their prior racing experience was fairly typical.

  6. Old man racer says:

    Doug, as my name suggests, I am old school. But I have to say, Joe Logano, Ryan Preece, Doug Coby, David Gravel,Bobby Santos, Tommy Barrett all were racing quarter midgets at Silver City and Little T before they could tie their shoes. Now you add the drivers who came up through the wild thing carts, and you have a feeder system with a lot of talent. I would guess 60-80% of the roster at Stafford were racing before they had a driver’s license.

  7. Good to see more young talent coming to the SK’s best of luck for both.

  8. Race simulators aye. How about this? A future where there are no cars or tracks. Individual race simulators the people buy rides in and that race against each other. The fans? Subscription of course. No worries about drivers getting hurt and insurance hassles. No worries about weather and car counts. Literally any unexpected racing event or skill necessary to be successful can be programed into a computer algorithm that simulates the best racing. Any skill other then those necessary to build and set up a car that a lot of guys are sub contracting out anyway. Replace Rocco, Todd Owens, Barry Fluckiger, all the chassis and engine builders with computer programmers. Mock me if you will but that’s the future.

  9. Just Wondering says:

    Sounds good Doug but so far I don’t think the simulators can simulate the smell of the fuel and tires burning or the entertainment value of a drunk racefan(s) standing at the fence after his or her favorite driver just wrecked their favorite driver. LOL

  10. Best ridiculous response to a ridiculous comment of 2017. Happy New Year Just Wondering!

  11. “A future where there are no cars or tracks. Individual race simulators the people buy rides in and that race against each other.”

    It already exists without the fans as iRacing…. But as JW points out, it’s just not the same without all the trimmings, to which I’ll add the smell of french fries, popcorn, and sausage cooking and the guy sneaking a smoke in the stands!

    There’s a pretty cool sim installation open to the public in Norwalk.

  12. Who says there are no fans? iRacing promotes their races on YouTube with live streaming with commentators for the fans to watch. They do a simultaneous 24 Hours of LeMans, and have a Peak Cup for NASCAR online.

  13. Well you could knock me over with a feather. See this is what happens when an out of touch geezer tries to make a joke. It turns out to be reality. Kind of. I guess we know now where a lot of the people that aren’t going to the traditional races are spending their time.
    The smells of the track, noise, commotion. Not a problem. It could all be synthesized to provide the full racing experience. Or further in the future the sensation could be piped directly into the brain. That’s only half a joke. Glad I won’t be around when that happens.

  14. Rich, I should have written live or in-person fans…

    Seeing the meteoric rise in popularity of eSports, you never know when someone will try out a live large group venue. Thinking of my past life in concert production, it wouldn’t be very hard to recreate sounds and smells… All you’d need is fog juice that smells like burnt race gas and rubber, and maybe some fairground smells like popcorn, fries, and cigarette smoke.

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