Volume 1 Issue 4
Zambotti’s Quest for Success
After a couple weeks off to chase my son’s baseball exploits, I am back in the swing of highlighting our sports unsung heroes. This new piece is on one of Western Pennsylvania’s traveling Pro Stock drivers Joey Zambotti, Kittanning, PA.
Taking a deeper dive into Zambotti the man, finds him as the owner of Zambotti Collision Center where he is not only is the owner, but a working technician. Joey has been married to Nicole since late spring of 2014 and the couple is quickly reaching their “Wooden” anniversary next month. Family is the concentric theme in the Zambotti household. This dynamic couple has two wonderful sons, Joey IV, nearing his 4th birthday in the fall, as well as relative newcomer Cole, who will turn two in July. For the Zambotti’s, racing is a family affair with the entire family attending every meet that Joey participates in. When Joey was questioned, how he sees things after his racing career is over and what, if any, plans he has to continue to be involved in racing? He answered, “My two boys will be taking over. Joey IV is such a gear head. He is all about the race cars and anything with a motor and wheels. We got him a go-kart and our hope is to have him buzzing around in it this summer. That way when they are ready, then I’ll know it’s my time to step away and let them take center stage”.
Joey began his racing career in 2013 at the age of 26. He has continued the family racing linage following in his dad’s footsteps. Zambotti stated, “My dad raced stock cars in ‘85-‘86 and stopped when I was born. Racing is something I have always loved, but we were so involved in motocross we never gave it (car racing) much thought. That was until (my) concussions started coming; so we took a step back, looked at life realistically and walked away (from motocross)”. Those events resulted in Joey taking his first steps into the beginnings of his then fledging dirt track career.
To that end, making that move from two to four wheels Joey affirmed, “My dad (Joe, Jr.) is behind me 100%! He is my best friend and we have one of the best relationships anyone could ever have. We work together daily at our business then after hours we work on race cars. No matter what we are doing, we are there for each other”. Then the conversation expanded to cover Zambotti’s car racing exploits. This portion of the chat revealed that he has seat time spanning several divisions. Joey has not only competed in the Pro Stocks, but his driving resume also includes piloting the Superior Race Cars Mod Lite entry in 2017, as well as a Crate Late Model. Guiding his quest for success, Joey explained that, “Beside my dad, my most significant racing hero is Dale Earnhardt, Sr.”.
A quick editorial diversion about Zambotti’s class that creates some, to a lot of, confusion regarding his division; and that is the branding as well as consistent rules. For many casual fans, as well as the mainstream media this class has many different monikers (Pure Stocks, Bombers, Thunder Cars, etc.). Furthermore, the division also lacks the uniformity of a rules package from track to track, unlike their higher profile brethren the Super Late Models. That makes it difficult, if not impossible, for competitors in these ranks to travel much. As stated previously in Issue 2, in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio region the Penn-Ohio Pro Stock organization has gone a long way in their efforts to establish unity, but in other geographic regions of the country that same luxury does not exist.
Moving on in our discussion, when queried about his race team Zambotti responded, “We own our own cars”. Since his number is unique and not the typical numbers routinely seen on race cars today, he was asked about how he arrived at his number. Joey’s response was simply logical as he stated, “I came up with my number 948 as a result of me growing up racing motocross. I was #48 then. In 2009, I received my Pro Motocross License, so for that you had to pick a 3 digit number and I picked it (948). Once we retired from (motocross) racing and got into cars, I went back to #48 for the first few car races. But (I noticed) there was always one or two other #48, so I told my dad I was going back to the #948. (So far) I haven’t seen another car with that number since”.
When asked about his 2019 campaign, Zambotti replied, “We plan to run our crate late model the 2nd half of this season as much as we can. But (at this point) we don’t have a set schedule (that) we (are) following, (it is) just weather permitting. With that stated, this 32-year old began his 2019 season by clicking off five consecutive wins at Hagerstown (MD) Speedway in the Pure Stock class. His early season triumphs, as of April 27th, have placed him at the top of the leader board in their weekly point standings. One of the quintet was a big-stage moment; it occurred during the Pure Stock portion of the April 14th Stanley Schetrompf Classic for the Lucas Oil Late Models.
In his most recent outing on Friday, May 10th at Lernerville (Sarver, PA) Joey clearly demonstrated his driving prowess. This is one of the few events this early season that was not capsized by Mother Nature’s incessant rain on the Butler County oval. Zombotti, on that evening clearly displayed that he is a gritty competitor. His great determination was on full display during his runner-up performance. According to track reports, “…equally impressive was the speed with which Joey Zambotti made his way from the tail of the field following an incident on the opening lap. Joey used several restarts to pick up positions and was perhaps the fastest car on the track in the second half of the race, but came up just short at the end of 20 laps”. Even in the face of this adversity Zambotti refused to “mail in his finish” and gutted it out to the end. This valiant effort places him currently only three points out of leading the Lernerville Pro Stock points.
With his Pro Stock career going well at this point, Joey was asked to reflect on what accomplishments he has achieved thus far. He quickly noted, (my) “2013 Lernerville ‘RoY’ title; 2016 Lernerville ‘Most Improved Driver of the Year’, as well as amassing 17 career feature wins”.
Zambotti success can be attributed to many factors including his equipment. He fields an SS chassis, powered by an Ingram engines, supported by RPI-Bilstein shocks as well as shod with Hoosier tires. A driver is only as good as his car and crew. That stated, Joey readily acknowledges all of their collective efforts in putting gforth a winning effort. His crew chief is his dad, Joe Jr. with able bodied help coming from Mike Keirn, Ben Rudd and Eric Fink.
The #948 team receives their backing from: Zambotti Collision Center, Ingram Engines, Erie Insurance, The Hallman Agency, Chevrolet Performance, Rohrich Automotive, Design Revelation, Haas Excavating and Demolition, Asbury Carbons, Advance Auto Parts, SS Chassis, Anarchy Kustoms, Precise Racing, Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic, and Vonderkall Exhaust.
With that long list of supporters, Joey was asked, how vital is sponsorship to your team’s effort? He quickly replied, “The sponsors we have means the world to us! Every little bit of help is a huge asset to our program. It takes a lot of money to keep the cars on the track every week and (racing) up front”.
As we discussed the sponsor’s and their importance to his team, the conversation shifted. The new probe was related to his opinion on what the biggest cost in his racing operation is? A secondary follow-up question included what Joey would do to improve or make changes to help reduce the costs? His retort was decisive and quick, “Everything is so expensive in today’s day and age. Just the entry fees (pit passes) getting into the tracks is mind blowing! This is especially true when you are paying for the entire family to get in. That coupled with what the purse is to-win gets disproportional very quickly. Let alone the costs for tires and fuel in the car, and that’s if you have a good run and don’t break anything. Then you add on the truck and trailer, fuel and food just getting to the track before you even get to unload. It’s something most people won’t ever understand if racing isn’t in your blood”.
Of everything that can happen in racing, Zambotti was asked, what frustrated him the most? His reply was direct and succinct, “Being last every night at Lernerville! They never give us the chance to get rotated with the other three divisions. It makes it rough getting on the track at 11pm at night for the feature and my boys are usually sleeping by the time we go out. Then getting home so late on Saturday nights from other tracks, and trying to get the boys up and ready for church Sunday mornings makes it rough on all of us”. He concluded his thoughts saying, “We live our life pretty simply; we put God first and surround ourselves with good people and good things happen. We give to him with a shovel and he gives back with a dump truck in return. There is a sign that hangs in my shop from my pap from the 1960s that says ‘what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but loose his own soul?’ Mark 8:36. That’s a decal I have on my decking of the race car where the passenger would sit”.
When the discussion shifted to his favorite track(s), he quickly added “Lernerville and Hagerstown Speedway’s” Those choices, in this scribes opinion, are relatively obvious given Joey’s success at both of these speed plants. His favorite race of the year is Lernerville’s finale dubbed the “Steel City Stampede”. He concluded that his favorite series is the RUSH® Stock Cars.
In closing, Joey away from short-track racing personally likes building hotrods and most importantly spending time with his boys. He enjoys professional sports with his favorite team being anything Pittsburgh; stating. “My family bleeds black and gold”.
For further information regarding Joey Zambotti please visit him on a variety of electronic media platforms including his website: zambotticollision.com and Facebook: Facebook.com/joey.zambotti