Owner Eric Sanderson Emotional Over Shutdown Of Flamingo Motorsports Whelen Mod Tour Team

Whelen Modified Tour team owner Eric Sanderson in the garage at Thompson Speedway Sunday morning prior to the Sunoco World Series 150, which will be his final race as a team owner (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – Eric Sanderson has long been an car owner on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour who let his team’s success do the talking for him. 

And as expected the typically reserved Sanderson was stoic, but emotional talking Sunday morning at Thompson Speedway about the shut down of his Flamingo Motorsports team. 

It was revealed late Saturday by the team’s driver Timmy Solomito that Flamingo Motorsports would shut down after today’s Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson. 

Sanderson has been a team owner with the series since 1995. His team won series championshipships in 2006 with the late Mike Stefanik and in 2013 with Ryan Preece. 

Sanderson’s voice cracked with emotion when he talked about the decision. 

“It was just a long time coming,” Sanderson told RaceDayCT Sunday morning. “I’m going to be 70 next year. I’m still running two businesses. It was just getting to be a bit much. I struggled with the decision for quite a while. I talked to my family and they really didn’t want me to do it, but they’re happy.” 

Sanderson was honored by Whelen Modified Tour Series director Jimmy Wilson during Sunday morning’s series driver’s meeting. 

“An outstanding person,” Wilson said at the meeting. “Has had a great race team, great people. And I think quite frankly every one of us in this room can call him friend. Eric, thank you for everything you’ve done for us as an industry, as a series. We appreciate everything. Good luck in your next chapter in life. Do not be a stranger.” 

Solomito replaced Preece with the team prior to the 2015 season and had nine victories with the organization and crew chief Sly Szaban. Solomito starts 10th at Thompson today. He sits seventh in the standings going into the season finale, among a group of four drivers separated by five points in the battle for fifth place.

“I’m just thankful for the opportunity [team owner] Eric Sanderson and Sly Szaban gave me over the past five years,” Solimito told RaceDayCT late Saturday. “I was able to go out and win nine races and five poles with them and battle for championships for a few seasons. There’s a lot to be said for that. I’m extremely grateful and hope to land on my feet in another ride for 2020.” 

Szaban has worked for Sanderson and Flamingo Motorsports for 18 years. 

“It’s a tough deal,” Szaban said. “… Probably one of the best car owners you could ask for. Never questioned a call that I made or any decisions that I made. Always supportive. If we had a bad day he was there in the shop trying to pick the team up, not asking questions why things were going wrong. A great boss, a great person. That’s why I went to work for him. I knew his reputation as a human being and that’s one of the reasons that I came to work for Flamingo. Being able to run his race team for this long has been an honor and all the guys that worked for us through the years that brought us to where we are, yeah it’s sad but we’ll all move on and we can’t thank Eric enough for everything he’s done for all of us.” 

Like Solomito, Szaban is unsure what the 2020 season will bring for him. 

“I want to stay involved in racing,” Szaban said, “At some point, I don’t know if I want to continue if I want to be a full-time crew chief or not. I’ll have to decide after some time off and see where that leads me. Time will tell.” 

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