On a cold Thursday night, I drove out to the “sticks” of Rhode Island to meet up with one of the most up and coming drivers in the Sportsman (formerly Street Stock) division at Seekonk Speedway, Corey Fanning. The Mapleville, RI native took some time out of his busy schedule to hang out with us at his garage and answer some questions that will give all of us fans a look into what goes on in the off season and the everyday life of our local short track drivers.
When and how did you get your start in Racing?
Corey: I started racing in 2010 at Thompson Motorsports Park in a Limited Sportsman and I didn’t even have my driver’s license yet.
What division do you currently race in and how would you describe your 2016 season?
Corey currently races in the Sportsman division and will be back in his orange and black number 11 for the 2017 season.
Corey: I never have luck, but right in the first three weeks of the 2016 season I finished 2nd, 1st, and 2nd. We ended up racing the complete season at Seekonk because of the luck we had right from the beginning. Even with six DNFs we still managed to finish 4th in the points.
Are there any sponsors that you would like to thank for your 2016 season and are there any new ones that we will be seeing on the car in 2017?
Corey: Jenkins Home Improvement, Organic Grow Hut, Esmond Electric, Camaro Parts Unlimited, and Burrillville Motors. New on the car for 2017 is Exotic Rays, the owner has always helped us out, but this year she now owns a business for us to put on our car.
What can we expect to see from you in 2017?
Corey: I wish I knew that far ahead. I hope to start off this year the way we did last year (wins and top 5s). Go for the championship, but keep my mindset focused on winning. I will be running my late model a few times at Seekonk this year. You will also be seeing Economy Racing Engines (ERE) stickers on a lot more cars this year; it’s for the business that my dad and I have started.
Is there any significance to your car’s paint scheme or number?
Corey: My dad had always had the #88, but when he had a few years off someone else had taken the 88. So when he went back to race he chose the #1 and when I started I took the #11 because it was my dad’s number twice. My dad’s car almost always was orange and black and we have always incorporated tiger stripes somewhere on our cars. (Right now the tiger stripes are on the hood of Corey’s car)
Who has been your biggest influence in racing?
Corey: I would have to say my dad has been a huge influence on my racing and he definitely put the idea in my head, but he never forced it on me. Once you’re in it, you’re in it.
Racing obviously being your first, what is your second favorite sport?
Corey: All 4 years of High School I played Hockey. I was also captain for 2 years. I was up every day at 3:30a.m. for practice until 7a.m., then I went to school, and after school was hockey practice again until 6p.m. Once I was home from practice I was in the garage working on the car. I was only able to race if my grades were good. My parents used to sign me out of school with a doctor’s note every Thursday so I could race at Thompson. (Corey’s favorite hockey team is the Boston Bruins)
When you are not racing what do you do for fun?
Corey: I ride ATVs, play hockey, and go to Providence Bruins games. I have even skated with the Providence Bruins. I go to the movies a lot too. In the summer, every Friday night we have a bonfire and cook out with friends in the back yard; it’s a good time to relax before Saturday’s racing.
What is your favorite racing memory?
Corey: My first feature win, but it’s also my least favorite because my dad wasn’t there.
As a driver, what do you think is your biggest accomplishment so far?
Corey: I ran for the championship at Thompson and finished 16 points behind 1st place. I actually got a certificate from that year for finishing 16th in the country.
Is there anything that you would want to tell racing fans?
Corey: Keep supporting your local tracks.
What advice would you give a young driver that is just starting out?
Corey: Listen to the people around you. Do your best and do what feels right. Stay calm. Treat everyone with respect because it does get noticed.
If there was anywhere you would choose to race at where would it be and why?
Corey: It would have to be somewhere like New Hampshire or Martinsville because it keeps the short track mentality that I like about local racing.
In your own words, describe what it is like to come through the pack to win a race.
Corey: To win from last or deep in the pack feels better than a win from up front. You have a more driven mentality, like the odds are against you. You feel more accomplished.
If you had the opportunity to spend the day with any racing icon (deceased or alive from any form or aspect of racing) who would it be? Why? How would you spend the day?
Corey: It would definitely have to be Dale Earnhardt and we would definitely race all day. As famous as he was he still knew where he came from and had that short track mentality. I would definitely ask him about his long journey (in racing) and about some of his experiences. He raced because he wanted to not because someone told him to and that’s how most of us short track drivers think.
Corey and his family will be hosting a fundraiser for their 2017 season and would be more than happy for you to join them. It’s at the Greystone Social Club on March 25, 2017; the time of the event is TBA.
Going into the interview I was nervous; normally I just stand behind the camera and click away. I left knowing how close knit people involved in racing actually are and how there really still are some out there that hold the sport together like a family. Corey’s family is 100% that family. The whole time I was there it was just like talking to people I had known for years; Corey’s mom (Linda) and dad (Scott) would chime in with little bits and pieces about racing and really anything else that had come up in conversation. One thing that Scott did say that stuck with me was “Once you’ve been here you’re like family and we’ve let you into our home…you are always more than welcome back.” The Fannings are a true, die-hard, racing family and I am glad to have been able to get to know them a little better; I cannot wait to see what Corey brings to the track in 2017.
Photos & Story by Jillian Amorin