Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With James Civali

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

James Civali– Thinking out of the box …

Meriden native James Civali now calls Davidson, N.C. his home. Civali joined the No. 53 Mike Curb owned modified crew to support Ryan Newman in the GAF Roofing Open Modified 80 event at Stafford Speedway on July 1. During the racing events, Chris Kopec approached Civali and asked him to hop in the No. 16 SK Modified for the RacersChoice.com SK Modified Showdown on July 2. Civali agreed jumped behind the wheel and after one round of practice, he was able to pilot the car to a seventh place finish. Civali started 29th in the 50-lap feature.  

How did you end up in the No. 16 SK Modified driver’s seat for the RacersChoice.com SK Modified Showdown?
“I came back here with Gary Putnam and Ryan Newman to run that Open Mod race. Just being back here is awesome. I have always loved the SK’s. Chris Kopec and his guys always used to work on our [NASCAR Whelen Modified] Tour car. He convinced me to come and take Dylan’s car out because Dylan could not be here and we were going to have some fun.” Editor’s Note” Dylan Kopec and his wife Nicole Kopec were on baby watch Saturday awaiting the birth of their first child.

How did the ride feel? 
“The seat was a little loose but we added some padding in there and tightened it up, and adjusted the belts and weight. We were fine. Before practice I reviewed all the gauges and switches to figure out where everything was so that we were ready come race time. It was just for fun.”

What have you been up to in 2022?
“Basically I have been working at Trackhouse [Racing] on the [NASCAR Cup Series] cars. I do all the drive line work for them. I have gotten to go to a half dozen races already and see some cool different things. I am having a lot of fun with it.”

Working in the shop versus behind the wheel – your thoughts?
“It is really cool. It is a whole different world with a different type of racing. There is some much engineering involved and the thought process that goes into every nut and bolt, everything. It really opens up your eyes to so many different things that could be applied at the short track level. That would make you a better guy at the track. This is where Ryan Stone, Phil Moran and Gary Putnam where they shine when they come back to the lower divisions from the Cup Series to places like Stafford. They are very well prepared because they are acclimated with how important it is to be prepared on the little things that a lot of times get overlooked.”  

Do you think that an experience or job like you have now would have helped you earlier in your racing career?
“Yes, definitely. You kind of fall into the path of what everybody else is doing. Especially when you are at a place like Stafford or [the New London-Waterford Speedbowl].  It is what we all do here. When you get involved with a lot of different smart minds, they start thinking outside the box – ‘Why don’t we try this? Why don’t we try that? But nobody ever did that. Why don’t we try it?”’ That is where a lot of development comes in where you see Ryan Preece or Gary Putnam find something and they are dominate. Because they are being pushed to try something different. And that is the product of it.” 


  1. Stuart A Fearn says

    Good info. Civali is a good guy, very intelligent. Glad to see he is working at his passion

  2. Wayne Sharp says

    To think i had a big part in James Civali Racing beginnings it has been 39 years for the car my son and i made back in 1983 it’s win in the Nationals Championship in 1984 with Wayne Jr. And James Civali’s 5 National Championships it has 1 more National championship that 39 year old car will be racing in this 2022 National championship at Silver city championship ware James Civali raced it on the 13 —– 17 of July

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