I was fortunate to catch up with Anthony Alfredo on the West Coast swing of NASCAR when the NGOTS unloaded their haulers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Anthony and I spent a few minutes inside his David Gilliland/Crosley Racing hauler for this conversation.
What follows is a good portion of our conversation. You may be surprised how mature this teenager (he will turn 20 on March 31st) sounds!
Working On My Redneck: Anthony can you give the readers a brief synopsis of how you got to this level of racing, you know the ol Reader’s Digest version will work?
Anthony Alfredo: I only begin racing about five years ago, but I grew up a race fan. My parents are big racing fans. My first race to watch was the 2012 Daytona 500. Back then I was always playing sports like Lacross and other sports, you know I am from Connecticut. The whole racing thing, especially NASCAR, isn’t very common up there. But I was always a fan and I wanted to give racing a shot. So I got my feet wet in a Legend car. I won a few races and that allowed me to get into a late model stock car. I did very well in that division and that allowed me to get into the K&N Pro Series East. Now I am getting the opportunity to drive trucks here at DGR/Crosley.
It has been pretty crazy, so far. It has gone by very fast and it has been so much fun. I just feel very blessed to be competing at this level of racing this year!
Working On My Redneck: What part of CT are you from?
Anthony Alfredo: Richfield, CT, which is just outside Danbury.
WOMR: Did you ever race at Stafford?
AA: No, but I did race at Thompson in the K&N East series.
WOMR: Anthony can you tell us how your racing deal came together with DGR/Crosley?
AA: I actually met David Gilliland when I was racing late models with JR Motorsports, years ago. So he had seen me race during that time period. Last year, when I was trying to see which way my racing was going to go, I first started talking to him. At the end of last year David asked me what were our plans for 2019. I told him that I really didn’t know.
We sat down with David and told him where we really wanted to go and that discussion went really, really well. After our meting and conversation we came away with a deal to run 13 truck races with DGR/Crosley this year! To have someone like David Gilliland as my team owner, partner, and driving coach to look up to is quite remarkable. Also to be surrounded by such good partners and family is really cool, as well.
WOMR: You said that you are racing 13 races this year for DGR/Crosley. How was it decided which 13 races that you were race? Did you get to pick the 13 races?
AA: We really just prioritized that the 1 1/2 mile tracks were the biggest tracks. We are going to run all of the race tracks, with the exception of Kentucky, Kansas, Talladega, Gateway, and Phoenix. We are trying to run all the big tracks with the ultimate goal of running full time in the series next year. So to run all of the 1 1/2 tracks this year, that is where most of the competition is in the three touring NASCAR Series. It is my thought that I need to learn all about the high speeds, and the air (the aerodynamics of high speed racing) so that I can be ready for Daytona and Talladega when I go full time next year.
WOMR: Since you mentioned the air with high speed racing, what did it feel like in your first 1 1/2 mile race at Atlanta? What was your experience the high speeds and the buffeting air? Was it a factor?
AA: Absolutely! When someone is on your right side your truck is very sensitive. You need to be very careful. If you just try to drive though it you are going to spin and wreck. That is also why when you are on someone’s right side you better give them a little extra room or they will wreck you as well! You just have to careful, and you learn a lot racing beside someone. You also learn a lot from being behind someone because the truck does not turn as well due to the lack of air on the front end, dirty air reduces the downforce on the front end, which makes the front wheels less responsive. So when you are in the back of the field the dirty air really makes it hard to pass.
So if you’re at the back of the pack you could have a really fast truck but you still may not be able to go anywhere. At these mile and a half tracks you are running nearly wide open and it makes it hard to pass in the turbulent or dirty air.
WOMR: What was the biggest thing that you learned at your first mile and a half track, Atlanta Motor Speedway.
AA: The biggest thing was learning what turbulent air does to the truck and how to manage that. Also anther key thing that I am still learning is how to get these trucks to restart well. I did learn how to move around that track and find some clean air, because Atlanta is so wide that you can run all over that track! It was a lot of fun being able to race on any part of that track, high, low, and in the middle. Atlanta really fit my driving style. Over all, what I learned at Atlanta can be applied to just about any track that I will be racing on this season.
WOMR: What are you interests away from the race track?
AA: I am actually studying Civil Engineering at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte at this time. So that takes up the majority of my time away from the race track. I guess that you could say that I have two full time jobs, although racing is not a job, it is something that I love.
As you can see, I don’t have very much free time, but I do like video games and going to the gym for a workout.
WOMR: Regarding you schooling, are you an online student or full time at school dude? How does that work for you?
AA: Yes, I am a full time, in class student! This week I have already missed three days of class to be here in Las Vegas, so I am struggling right now! It is a tough deal trying to balance two full time things. I think that I only have one more race that will require me to miss much school. To help stay above water, I did three hours of applied mechanics homework on the flight from Charlotte to Vegas. It did make the flight go by a little faster, I guess!
WOMR: If you weren’t a race car driver, what would you be doing to pay the bills?
AA: Well, my dad is site development and commercial builder and that is all I have done before I went racing. Every summer since I was 12 years old I was one of his employees, working for him shoveling dirt and gravel, and operating heavy equipment. I would probably be doing that kind of work because I do enjoy that. I would be doing the whole building and design process.
WOMR: Sponsorship is the key to racing. How involved or what part do you play in trying to secure those partners?
AA: I have been very fortunate to have built relationships with people we knew when I first started racing. It has been a good deal for me and a good deal for their companies. It has turned out to be a good marketing opportunity for those companies and their brands, as well as a good opportunity for me to represent those companies.
Now to find more sponsorship that will allow me to run full time next year, I am doing a lot of the footwork myself. I am trying to find companies that will be a good fit for auto racing, but also a great fit for me and that I can be a good advocate for their brand. If you can work for brands that you believe in, there is a lot more that you can do together! Race Day Brands, along with my web site, helps me gather sponsorship. I also have ideas as well on how to reach out to new sponsors.
WOMR: Who makes the initial “cold call”?
AA: Sometimes Rod at Race Day and sometimes I make the first call, it just depends. But, I really like to be involved. I don’t just have a guy do all my dirty work. I like to be involved whether it is sponsorship or down at the shop. I just like to be involved.
I realize that there are a lot of people who would love to be in my position. That is why I love to be involved in all aspects of this, whether it is the business side, the shop side, or the driving side. I just want to be involved!
WOMR: Speaking of sponsorship, if a sponsor came to you and said Anthony I am will to fund your racing career for however long it is, but there are two things that you must do in order for me to fulfill that contract. You must wear a red clown nose at all times and you must wear one of those multi-colored frizzy wigs at all times. Would you make the deal?
AA: (without hesitation and with gusto) Absolutely!
WOMR: Let’s do some word association. Just tell me whatever first pops into you mind. Since you are a Connecticut guy, Ryan Preece?
AA: He is a great wheelman. He and Joey Logano are great for the sport and great for my home state. They are both really great for what they give back to the sport.
WOMR: Tommy Baldwin
AA: Another great representative from CT who gives back to the sport. That is what I would like to be able to do in the future.
WOMR: Between A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty, who is the greatest race car driver?
AA: That is so hard to answer. All I can say is that I wished that I was old enough to have been able to watch those two race in their day, and witness history being made. That is such a hard question. Maybe Richard Petty.
WOMR: Indy 500 or Daytona 500?
AA: That is another hard question. But for me personally, it would be the Daytona 500 just because that was my first ever NASCAR race. That is where I got hooked on the sport. When I went to Daytona that was THE moment that I decided that I wanted to be a race car driver.
But the Indy 500 has tremendous history with that event, and I really would like to compete in that event someday.
WOMR: Anthony you are still a very young man, but what are you most proud of so far?
AA: I think that my self determination is what I am most proud of. I know that a lot of kids my age would have difficulty in balancing all the things that I am presently balancing. On top of all of that, I live by myself and I am 700 miles away from home! The fact that I am here without any of my family, and I am trying to make thing happen on my own, gives me much satisfaction. I have made many sacrifices but it has all been worth it.
I would like to thank Anthony Alfredo for giving me a few minutes of his time at the race track, and to be able to tell his story to the readers.
Well, I hope that you have come away from this interview learning a little more than you previously knew about this young Connecticut native, who is trying to make it in the NASCAR world.
I will tell you that I was duly impressed that this 19 year old, soon to be 20 year old young man, has drive, has determination, and is a really an intelligent and focused person. Between his racing ventures and his full time school activities, Anthony’s world is knee deep in alligators most of the time! Somehow he will make it all work, I am sure!
Look for him this year to be racing on most all of the 1 1/2 mile tracks. If you see him at the race track step up, say hi, and that you read about him here on Working On My Redneck first!
Good luck Anthony and I will talk to you later in the season.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!