Local Race Team Owner Sully Tinio Passes

Bobby Santos III (left) and team owner Sully Tinio (right) celebrate on the roof of the Tinio Motorsports Whelen Modified Tour car following Santos’ victory in July 2017 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

Salvatore “Sully” Tinio, the owner of the local race team Tinio Motorsports, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday.

Tinio was 72 years old. 

Tinio’s passing was confirmed to RaceDayCT by his son Lawney on Sunday.

Under his ownership, Tinio Motorsports grew from a Late Model team competing at Thompson Speedway to a winning organization on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Despite a relatively short span competing with the Whelen Modified Tour, Tinio very quickly grew to become one of the most respected and popular team owners within the series.   

Tinio had been involved in racing at the old Westborough (Mass.) Speedway in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. The family returned to racing with son Tinio’s son Damon driving a Late Model at Thompson Speedway a little more than a decade ago. 

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Sully Tinio during this difficult time,” Whelen Modified Tour series director Jimmy Wilson said in a statement released Monday by NASCAR. “Sully’s competitive spirit and determination embodied the best attributes of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He built a rich legacy as a winning car owner and dear friend to many, and his presence will be missed.”

Before the 2011 season the family purchased a Tour Type Modified and fielded the car in three events on the Whelen Modified Tour with driver Rick Gentes with a best finish that year of 18th

Before the 2012 season the team connected with driver Bobby Santos III to run a part-time schedule on the Whelen Modified Tour, beginning a meteoric rise to becoming one of the powerhouse teams in the division. 

The team ran nine of 14 events in 2012 with Santos getting Tinio Motorsports its first Whelen Modified Tour win in their eighth start together in the Fall Final at Stafford Speedway. Santos went on to win the World Series at Thompson Speedway weeks later to sweep the final two events on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule that year. 

Santos got another two wins for the team in 2013 at Stafford and Thompson again. In 2014 the team ran all 13 events on the Whelen Modified Tour with Santos getting three more wins, including victories at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and Stafford. Santos ended up finishing sixth in the series standings that year. 

In 2017 Santos swept both Whelen Modified Tour events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Tinio Motorsports. The team’s last Whelen Modified Tour victory came in July 2018 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

Over seven seasons with Santos driving for them from 2012-2018, Tinio Motorsports made 82 Whelen Modified Tour starts and recorded 11 victories, including four wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and three each at Thompson and Stafford. Santos also won the exhibition Whelen All-Star Shootout in Loudon in July 2016 for Tinio Motorsports.

The team shut down following the 2018 season, but was expected to return to competition running selected Open Modified events in 2021 with Santos. The team is expected to make its return to action for the Icebreaker 125 on April 11 at Thompson Speedway, which is the first of six Open Modified events at the facility in 2021. Santos said the team was also expecting to compete in the 50-lap Open Modified event at the Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on April 17.

“What’s going on at Thompson definitely struck their interest again,” Santos told RaceDayCT in February of the team coming back. “I think them taking a little bit of time off and regrouping and I guess missing out on the racing the last couple years, I think they missed it and just decided they wanted to do it some more. We had a lot of fun racing with those guys and always enjoyed it. We had a little success too so I’m looking forward to racing with them again.” 

Bobby Santos III (left) and Sully Tinio (right) (Photo: Michael Ivins/NASCAR)
Sully Tinio (left) and Bobby Santos III (right) following a Spring Sizzler victory at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Courtesy Stafford Speedway)


  1. Condolences 💐

  2. wmass01013 says

    Sympathy to the whole Tinio Family and Team

  3. Fast Eddie says

    Sorry to hear this, thoughts and prayers to the family.

  4. My heartfelt condolences go out to the Tinio family.

  5. Condolences for the Tinio family, as well as the members of the race team.

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