Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Dan Avery


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


Dan Avery (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Dan Avery – You can’t get that racing fuel out of your veins

Dan Avery of Somers was not born into a racing family, but his father and uncle sparked his interest in the sport that led to a life of chasing speed. Starting his career behind a snowmobile competing in winter sports, he moved to an asphalt track in his early twenties. Taking grit and rivalry learned on the snow and ice to the track, Avery dabbled with full fender cars before moving behind the wheel of an SK Modified at Stafford Speedway. He followed his dream to Riverside Park Speedway, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and then going full circle back to where he started at Stafford Speedway. At one point in his career Avery became just a spectator until Ted Christopher encouraged him to get back into racing in 2009. He now has a stable of SK Modifieds with Woody Pitkat back at his home track behind the wheel of one of Avery’s Modifieds and Glen Reen looking to rejoin the team after a year off from racing.

What made you get interested in racing?

“I went to Riverside Park with my uncle and my dad when I was probably seven or eight years old. And I got hooked and fell in love with it. There was a cool driver, Wild Bill Greco who was my hero there. Every time we went there I just imagined myself driving those cars. And I kept saying to myself: ‘Someday, Someday.’ And here I am still doing it.  It is addictive, once you get hooked, you get hooked. You get that racing fuel in your veins and you cannot get rid of it.”

Which type of racing do you like the best?

“I started out with a full fenders and I thought that was going to be my destiny. Somehow I ended up in a Modified. Right now it would be pretty hard to hang up the Modified hat and go full fender. I am pretty partial to the Modifieds nowadays.”

Would you say racing is your hobby?

“Oh yes it is a hobby now. When I was younger I had high aspirations of becoming a professional, making it to the big league. Now I am just doing it for fun.”

Have you always driven your own car?

“About 97% of the time I have driven my own cars. But I have driven for car owners in the past. I bounced around a little bit with Gary Teto. I drove for Curt Chase a little bit. And a couple of others like Bob Judkins and other owners like that.”

Do you work on your own car?

“Not as much as I used to. I was always the one turning the wrenches along with help from some good friends. .”

Most memorable racing experience?

“That is a tough one because there are so many of them. I guess winning the [1995 Modified] championship at Riverside Park. That was the most gratifying and the most memorable. We had worked so hard for many years to achieve that goal. And to finally get it, that is the one that left the mark.”

What are the challenges that drivers have at Stafford?

“The two opposite ends of the track are completely different. Turns one and two are totally different then turns three and four making it quite a challenge to get the car setup. Making the car work at both ends is a compromise. Some guys are better at the track than others. It is hard work for some and for others it comes natural. Once you can drive good at Stafford you can drive any track. The competition level here at Stafford is above all other tracks. It brings out all the talent and the best equipment. If you can run up front here, you can pretty much go to other tracks and be a contender.”

What is your goal for 2021?

“Well, we had a goal with our other car to run for the points and the championship. We had Chase Dowling driving the No. 22. He left and now we have Woody Pitkat in there. So we are just sorting things out.  But for myself I am going to run just a couple of races. Have some fun with it. And think about what we are going to do for next year.”

If you had to do this all over again would you?

“I would do it completely different. If I had to do my career all over again I would had spent more time looking for sponsorship money and brought it to a proven team or car owner and leaned on their expertise, their setups and their equipment. I would use this to further my career. I think that I would have been better served to do that than to have tried to do my own deal. And then I could have maybe met my goal of running in a higher division.”

Do you wish you would have started racing at a younger age?

“Yes. I was racing at a younger age but it was not in a car but in a snowmobile. I started at about fifteen years old and raced snowmobiles for about five years. So I had the whole concept of competitiveness and the grit to be a competitor. Then I had a two year layoff from doing anything until I went into car racing.  Had I started earlier into car racing and had a mentor and more leadership I probably would have also furthered my career.”

Where did you start your racing career?

“I started in 1979, at Stafford Speedway in the Limited Sportsman division which is very similar to the Late Models of today. I did that for a couple of years and then I was one of the first ones to run one of the SK Modifieds here in 1982-1983. In 1984, I was running part time at Stafford. Then in 1985, I went racing at Riverside Park Speedway.” 

Comparing racing at Riverside Park Speedway to Stafford Speedway?

“It is night and day. Riverside Park had more of a family atmosphere and it was just a fun place to be. Everybody took their racing pretty seriously, but at the end of the night everyone was just friends and had a good time. Where at Stafford everyone are friends and they are having a good time but there is a level of professionalism at Stafford Speedway that is a little different. With the professional up a notch or two from Riverside, Stafford racing is more competitive.”

What challenges do you think crew chiefs have at Stafford Speedway?

“The obvious reason that Stafford is so challenging is the turns are different at both ends of the track. This track will make the crew chief kick the walls in the shop trying to figure it out. Once you get the setup figured out, things are pretty good. “

Do you think that Modified drivers should have radios?

“I like having a radio in the car. I think that it is a good safety factor. However, I have brought this up at driver’s meetings before, I really think that could be some tutoring and some schooling done with spotters that would help the program out an awfully lot. There are some really good spotters out there that could teach some of the spotters that are not as good some good lessons for out there.“

Comments

  1. Last question. Timely, well asked and answered. Well done.
    No they will not be taking radios that exist in any divisions out and certainly not the SK’s. Avery who is a business person, analytical and a good communicator gave the best response and perhaps a little unexpected. Why can’t there be a seminar on spotting making an attempt to standardize what elements of good spotting consist of. As it is anyone can do it just designate them and give them the proper device. It really makes no sense when you think of the power the spotter has to tell a driver that can’t see what’s happening to do something that could be ill advised and wreck them.
    Might be a good winter project. Produced by Vault Productions with contributions from those in the racing community known for their expertise in spotting as well as highly regarded track officials like Tapley and Fox. . One video that could be required viewing for spotters that they could view at their leisure and refer back to as situations arise.
    Outstanding Mr. Avery.

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