Vinny Arrenegado has a pretty eventful year ahead of him. From his newly purchased Late Model to him and his wife, Jen, expecting a little girl, Vinny has a lot to be thankful for. I was able to meet up with the Warren, RI native to talk a little bit about this upcoming season and his woes of last season; and here’s what he had to say…
How would you describe your 2016 Season?
Vinny: It wasn’t our best year. We started off with bad luck. We broke a sway bar in the first race. We were fast, but we just had bad luck. We had a lot of flats last season. After a wreck we had to put a whole new snout on the car and the next week we came back and won. We sold the car three quarters of the way through the season. I spotted for Belsito at Waterford and ran a few races here in the #5 Advance Auto Parts Late Model for the Gifford Brothers and Wayne Nunes. Then we bought the car that we now have from Ray Parent. Last season was a slump especially after the year before winning the Crab Memorial, the DAV, and a Triple Crown Race.
Vinny will be back in the Late Models this season rolling out in a brand new #17.
Is there anything new to the car for 2017? What are your expectations for this season?
Vinny: Everything. New car, paint scheme, motor…everything. We built it and put it all together ourselves. This season we just want to have patience and we are hoping that will help the wins come our way.
Are there any sponsors that you would like to thank for your 2016 Season? Are there any new that you will be welcoming for 2017?
Vinny: Gerard Building and Elmwood Dodge are new to the car for 2017, but we would like to thank all of our sponsors for 2016: Emergency Productions, Phoenix Incorporated, Nacho Mama’s, S & R Plastering, Navigant Credit Union, Stevie D’s Bar and Grill, Nicholson Cutter and Grinding, E-Cig Shed, Balasco’s Pizza, Anderson Motors, and BAM Powder Coating. I would also like to thank Manny Texeira for letting me use his garage, my crew: Mike, Nick, Adam, Tom, Butch, Kendra, and Shannon. Also my family: my wife Jen, my parents, my sister Allison and the rest of the family. And a big thank you to everyone that came out to my fundraiser this past weekend.
How did you get your start in racing?
Vinny: I got into racing I think it’s just pretty much that I always liked going fast as a kid. I liked playing with stuff with motors; looking for ways to make things faster. I never thought turning left would be so much fun, but it’s a blast. I look forward to every Saturday no matter how bad the Saturday was before that. I started in the Sport 4 division raced there for a half season, then we got a Streeter and raced that for 2 or 3 years, and then we got the Late Model and this will be our third season in that.
Who is your biggest racing influence?
Personally I believe that Vinny is his own biggest racing influence. He didn’t get brought up into it like most of us that you see at the track every weekend. He found it on his own. Tinkering with things that have motors and wanting to make things faster. He didn’t realize that he is the reason he is doing what he does and continues to love turning left.
He turned to his crew when I asked this question and their responses were people that have helped them out greatly throughout Vinny’s racing career like Dave Bergman and Robin Bergman from DB Fabrication and Mike Brightman. They all agreed that Dave Bergman taught them everything they know and helped them get things started. Mike Brightman helped get everything going when they first got the Late Model.
What do you remember most about your first win?
Vinny: My first win…that was 2 years ago in 2015. We had started on the pole and fell back to somewhere outside the top 5. We ended up coming back and racing with Bobby Pelland (at the time he was the defending Late Model Champion). The last lap we were battling on the outside and we ended up being able to hold him off. That was a good first win. We were winless in the Streeters, winless the first year in the Late Models…it drove me nuts.
What is the significance of your paint scheme and number?
Vinny: I just let Thirty Two Signs design it. They just go along with whatever the colors of the tin are and go from there. The number…when we bought the car it was a 7 and it was already on there. On a Thursday night we went up to Maine, it was a 6 hour ride, to get the car. We pulled an all-nighter because it had no right front on it. It just had a 7 on it so I just had to throw something on there; I just had to make it work for that weekend. So I threw a duct tape 1 on there and that’s what we stayed with. The track let me keep the 17 because Parent wasn’t racing there all the time.
If there was any race you could do over..which would it be and what would you do to make it better?
Vinny and his crew recalled a race they believe was their last race in the old car last year. He spun out in turns 3 and 4, driver and spotter were yelling at each other over the scanner. When something happens on the track the crew says that Vinny has no patience and tries to regain all positions back in one lap, we all know that can’t be done. Vinny did say there was a few times that if he hadn’t lost his temper he knows he could have done a lot better. Patience is a big thing that as a team they are all looking to improve on this year. He and the crew all agreed that they are going to take a page out of Belichick’s play book this year and take it one race at a time and Do Your Job and move onto the next race.
What do you think your reputation is and do you think it’s accurate?
Vinny: Ummm…I don’t know I mean I do have some people that cheer me on all the time and I’m sure that maybe there’s some that can’t stand me. I know there have been times where I’ve probably created my own enemies, but that’s part of racing. That’s one of the things this year that we are gonna work on; just have patience and take one race at a time and try not to make enemies. Just do what we can…if we’re not good one week come back for the next week and try to be better.
What ONE moment stands out the most from all of your time in racing?
Vinny: It would probably be that Triple Crown Race, they were getting ready for the ACT 150 race that was the next week. We were the only weekly Seekonk car upfront, other than Estrella, and I think we had a good chance of winning.
If you could compete at any track which one would you choose?
Vinny: Bristol. That’s and awesome track. I love that track.
What keeps you coming back to Seekonk?
Vinny: First off I’d like to try to win a championship at my home track. It’s right in our back yard. It’s very close. I’ve come to like a lot of the people that I race with and a lot of people I’ve become friends with race there. I think we just always try to do better (there), no matter if we won the week before we try to come back and do even better and be faster the following week. There have been times that I’ve been really upset, but after I calm down I know I’m always going to go back.
This year Vinny and his team plan to come to the track with patience. They want to get the job done and they plan on using the tools of the New England Patriots to move onto the next big thing. With a new car, paint scheme, and mentality, Vinny and his crew are coming to the 2017 season more ready and determined than ever to be competitive and maybe even take on the championship.
Story and pics by Jill Amorin