Support Center: Doug Dunleavy’s Backing Of Modified Racing Seemingly Sees No Boundaries

Doug Dunleavy (right) jokes with Whelen Modified Tour driver Justin Bonsignore during an event at Stafford Motor Speedway this year

Doug Dunleavy (right) jokes with Whelen Modified Tour driver Justin Bonsignore during an event at Stafford Motor Speedway this year

When it comes to Modified racing in the Northeast and beyond, it’s hardly a rarity to hear the name Dunleavy dropped.

Hearing the words Dunleavy Truck & Trailer Repair mentioned as a driver sponsor, track contingency sponsor or series supporter is hardly a rarity when it comes to any sort of Modified racing these days.

But even the man behind the name is a little humbled by what will take place Sunday at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

The virtual extent of the who’s who of Modified racing will all be on the roster Sunday for the Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair 100 at the Speedbowl.

It will mark the first Open Tour Type Modified event of its kind sanctioned by the Tri-Track Open Modified Series to be run at the Speedbowl.

“Seeing that name on the race, that took me a little time to adapt to, but I’m pumped up for it now,” said Doug Dunleavy, the owner of the Brookfield based Dunleavy Truck & Trailer Repair. “Being involved like I am, it is a benefit and I see it. There’s a lot of people that follow the Modifieds and I’ve had numerous phone calls every day from teams and fans and all different tracks about the race. It’s kind of merged into seeing it come alive in the Northeast and that’s a great thing.

“I’m not looking for anything in return for the [Speedbowl] race other than a good time and a get together for the boys.”

Over the last five years, when it comes to sponsorship support spread across the landscape of Modified racing, the Dunleavy name has taken over.

From drivers with the Whelen Modified Tour, the Whelen Modified Southern Modified Tour, the Valenti Modified Racing Series to contingency sponsors or just simply extra added impromptu bonus programs for random events, Dunleavy has spread his support across the board.

“I saw the light of younger well-talented guys not getting noticed and wanting to help them to somehow get the chance to run against the best of the best,” Dunleavy said. “That’s Modified racing. These guys are no joke.”

The 51-year old from Bridgewater got his start in racing through his family’s involvement as a child at the old Danbury Racearena.

“Once I became a teenager I helped a few Modified Tour guys,” Dunleavy said. “Then I started with my own Street Stock in 1985. I drove at [the former] Riverside [Park Speedway] for a couple years. Then I went out West and helped some teams out in the Colorado area. Then I came back and got involved in the Truck Series around here when it was the All-Star Series. I became an owner with that. I had six trucks. It was a big team. I would drive once in a while.”

Twenty-six years ago Dunleavy started his business and watched it blossom.

“We are primarily focused on emergency breakdown service for commercial trucking companies,” Dunleavy said. “We have a shop and we do repairs there. And we cover the whole Connecticut area. Wherever trucks breakdown we’ll go there. And they like us because we do the jobs on site and most times we can fix it without them being towed and that’s a big benefit to the company.”

In 2010 Dunleavy decided it was time to step up to a major sponsorship role with driver Todd Szegedy on the Whelen Modified Tour with Mike Smeriglio Racing.

“For many years I was a silent sponsor around racing,” Dunleavy said. “I really didn’t feel like I didn’t enough for anybody to have my name out there. Then I started with [Mike Smeriglio Racing] and it started taking off. I realized it was a lot more at that time. The team needed just a little bit to keep going.

“Then I decided to spread it out a little instead of having one team getting it all. I looked at the aspect that I’m going to be around for a while if I play my cards correctly I can help more than just one team and get a little more acknowledgment.”

Dunleavy said that while supporting Modified racing is a true love and passion, he doesn’t discount the return he has seen for his business that has come from that support and notoriety.

“I had a high turn around from the first two races on live TV at the [NASCAR Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway in 2013 and 2014],” Dunleavy said. “I knew that that was going to be a success for me with the trucking companies running the east coast. The phones rang right away and the profits from the first year, I decided I would return it to the race teams. We had a high call rate right from the get go from live television.

“The Whelen Modified Tour has definitely succeeded into a plus for my business. There’s a lot of teams that I’ve now had bringing their trucks for repair. I’ve also seen motorhome repair go up from different NASCAR people.”

This year Dunleavy made a major splash in event affiliation when he teamed with Stafford Motor Speedway to create the Dunleavy’s Gambler’s Challenge as part of the second NAPA SK 5K at the track in July.

The Dunleavy’s Gambler’s Challenge essentially turned what was a $5,000 winner’s purse for the event into a winning purse of just under $13,000 for event winner Ryan Preece.

“That was a homerun,” Dunleavy said. “I told them I had an idea and let’s do it. Now I have fans involved. I have different companies involved that have said whatever I put in they’re going to match it. It’s already getting bigger for next year. It’s exciting. That was a lot of fun.”

In addition to direct sponsorship of numerous drivers and involvement in other areas of event support with tracks and series’, Dunleavy also does what he calls the “Pick Out Of The Hat” contest for numerous events. He has turned the contest into social media fun, typically posting videos with different racing personalities involved in the drawings for events.

“I get a lot of companies around the Danbury area that want to help out with that and then I’ve had different people step up and throw stuff in there,” Dunleavy said. “It’s kind of become a really neat deal.”

Dunleavy said he’d prefer not to disclose how much he spends across the board in racing. He said the answer to that question is “worth a million bucks.” The seemingly endless support he does offer though has turned Dunleavy into a semi-celebrity across Northeast racing.

“At first I was a little uncomfortable with that,” Dunleavy said. “When I first got involved the negativity at first was a little heavy. Some people calling me a jerk or whatever, it kind of drove me a little more to do even more. I never let it bother me. I’ve been through different situations. My theory is, you only live here once so do the best you can. I enjoy it. I love it. In all my racing time, right now the Whelen Tour is like a big family and we’ve got the best. Everybody gets along. Sure they get in a little argument sometimes at the racetrack, but guarantee they call each other the next day because they know each other and want to work things out. It’s kind of neat. I just want to support that. My goal is to help young kids that can’t make it that I think really can and it’s just gotten spread into a lot of different things. I just love what I do.”


  1. From the grandstands, thank you for your support!

  2. Thank you Dunleavy!!!!

    Let’s hope that many more sponsors can be secured and the Tour Mods can break free from NASCAR!!!!

  3. Easiest thing in the world is to thank a guy like this who supports the sport we all so love.

    Thank you Sir.

  4. Doug Dunleavy’s partnership with auto racing is so great to see. For me; someone who has searched, promoted and partnered drivers with sponsors/manufacturers since 1985, he is the best thing to come to Modifieds and the Northeast racing scene since Winston, Auto Palace, Carquest, Ralston Purina Tidy-Cats, Gulf Oil, Tony’s Pizza, Pennzoil, Sunoco and others.
    Doug is not only bringing financial involvement…he is increasing exposure and the ‘feel-good’ to our sport at a time when corporations and small business are still apprehensive to get involved. He should be a star!

  5. Stewart Anthony says

    Good to see some better paying modified events. However I don’t understand why dirt late model races consistently pay bug purses on small tracks often not near major urban areas. For example, the 100 lapper at Eldora tonight only pays $48,000 to the winner… Hmmmm!

  6. Yeah, the huge purses at the dirt events is great. Where those funds come from is a mystery… crowds are not huge, ticket prices are reasonable. We have a great racing series in the Modifieds, and it is frustrating that we don’t have the massive sponsorship and revenue to pay decent purses. But New London-Waterford has done a great job this season with great crowds, although I have not seen the balance sheet, and Dunleavy is a great asset to the Modifieds. Hopefully other sponsors will follow Dunleavy’s lead.

    But I’ll say it again, our special brand of racing has to be promoted. It has been falling out of sight, and then out of mind.

  7. Out of sight? 2015 season has been the best in years. Thompson was packed a a few weeks ago. Every race is on TV. NHMS coming up in 2 weeks. Great on the track action, solid car counts. I don’t know what is so bad. An opportunity even exists to add a track or two to the schedule in 2016. The weekly racing is what needs to be addressed across the region.

  8. The Whelen tour has had a pretty good season this year, I would say. For tracks with weekly racing that are struggling, they need to look at what Waterford has been doing right this season. Good car counts a crowds all year long.

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