Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Todd Owen

“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont

Todd Owen – Racing is not a Hobby but it is his life … 

Todd Owen of Somers started his career like many of us, with his dad in the race track pits. His dad sponsored a Pro Stock and brought his family to the race track to share his love of racing with them. When the time was right, Owen was lucky enough to have a dad that gave him the support needed to jumpstart his racing career in a Strictly Stock at the former Riverside Park [Speedway]. To those of us that were brought to the old Riverside Park Speedway as youngsters, the park held the magic of Daytona Speedway and Disney World all together in one. 

Owen graduated from the Strictly Stock division following the traditional path of a driver to a Pro Stock ride. When Riverside closed after the 1999 racing season Owen moved to Stafford Speedway, his home track. He drove in the Pro Stock division at Stafford, Thompson Speedway and other New England tracks. When the Pro Stock division lost some of it popularity, Owen moved to an SK Modified at Stafford Speedway. And so began his life…. 

What made you get interested in racing?

“In the very beginning, my father sponsored a car that ran Riverside. So as a kid I was around racing (somewhere around 1989). The car he sponsored was Brian Scofield’s #09 and he actually owned the motor for the car. My father was not a mechanical guy so his being a sponsor helped me get into [racing]. For this sport you need financial backing and my father at the time was able to get me a Strictly Stock which was the starter division. That was what kids did back then, they ran the starter divisions. We did not know anything the first day and after that we just were learning and learning and learning.”

His first year at Riverside Park, Owen won “Rookie of the Year” honors and his first ever race. Todd Owen was bitten by the racing bug and racing now was a part of him

“I drove a Pro Stock at Stafford and at Riverside. When the Park closed I just went to Stafford. Then they kicked the Pro Stock Division out, so we left for a couple of years and raced at Thompson, Monadnock [Speedway in Winchester, N.H.] and a couple other tracks. It got so nobody in town knew that I was racing and you need town support for racing. It was getting further away and it was hard to get people to come to the track and watch. Then I started driving for Brad Hietala from Reliable Welding here at Stafford. That is how I got back to racing at Stafford and only ten minutes from my house”.

Which type of racing do you like the best?

“I used to love the Pro Stocks but that was my past. Nowadays I like the Open [Modified] races because you get to set your pace. You do not have to be so much on your chip every lap. Where with the SKs, you are drilled down until lap 40. It is a whole different style. In reality anything that you can steer left, I like to drive.”

Would you say racing is your hobby?

“Racing is my life. I go to work so that I can race. I work on race cars at night, once again so that I can race. And I do not know anything else. Which is sometimes good and sometimes bad.” 

What is your goal for 2021?

“I would like to win a race or two and be there at the points at the end. With the SK here at Stafford that is what the goal is. With the Open Modified we just want to have some good runs. It is definitely a stacked field so you never know what the future brings in those cars. I would just like to have consistent finishes and at the end of the year be there at the top.”

What racing memory stands out for you above all others?

“That is hard to say, but I would think it was winning my first SK race here with a car that we built at Reliable [Welding]. That was pretty cool. But there has just been so many good memories. I am fortunate that I have had the help and the support to get to where I am. Just knowing that we have had some good years and hopefully we keep moving on.”

Do you now build your own cars?

“Butch Shea used to build all of our Pro Stocks. They were called Chassis Pro cars. With Pro Stock racing ending at Stafford, Thompson and other places he just went out of business. … When I was struggling about 2008 to 2009, he came and gave me a hand again. As old friends we took an old car and made it pretty fast. That is the Derek Debbis SK Light Modified car. Then we started building one car and then another car. Now there are thirteen cars that we have built. There are thirteen different cars that race pretty much every week. So it is kind of turned into something more than what I expected, but I enjoy it. I like the challenge of making sure everybody’s cars are ready to go next week. We have a good group of people and I enjoy watching people driving my cars as much as I like driving my own.” 

If you had to do it all over again, would you?

“There is no doubt that I would do it all over again.”

Would you have done anything differently?

“I would have stayed here when they threw the Pro Stocks out. I would have built an SK [Modified] and stayed here. Doug Coby and I were in the same spot, and I am not trying to say that I’m close to Doug Coby’s stats, but we were pretty close to each other, battling each other every week. He stayed here and I left. I thought that might have been the wrong career move for me looking back. But other than that I have had a great career. If I stop tomorrow I have had some success and I have met a lot of great people and made a lot of friends.”

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