Meet Nicholas “Nick” Fraulino, a 21-year-old senior champ kart racer from East Hampton, Connecticut. Nick has been racing for two years and has been working with cars at his home track of Pomfret Speedway and other tracks in the surrounding area for several years. I sat down with the young driver and talked to him about the world of champ kart racing, the influence of famous racers from Connecticut, and his support of suicide prevention.
Q: Firstly, before I ask you any questions, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
A: I’m Nick Fraulino, I am from East Hampton, Connecticut, and I am 21 years old. I race senior champ karts all over the New England area!
Q: How did you first become interested in racing? Was it something that you discovered on your own, or was it something you were born into?
A: I was born into racing. My dad and his family members owned a late model team that raced at Waterford Speedbowl in the 1980’s and 1990’s. My brother raced before I was born, he raced quarter midgets starting in 1998 up until 2007, so I’ve been around it from the start. I’ve been helping my friend Joey Ternullo with his SK modified, and Tyler Tomassi with his super late model more recently, but I basically grew up at the race track every weekend whether it was the quarter midget track for the local short track where a lot of stars in NASCAR started.
Q: So how did you actually start racing yourself?
A: I actually started racing in 2004/2005 at Silver City Quarter Midget Club. I raced for a year or so but I didn’t enjoy it much, I was only five and was more interested in wrenching and watching my family race in my younger years. 15 years later, in 2020, I started racing again in a box stock clone flat cart at Pomfret Speedway in Pomfret, Connecticut where I finished third in the point standings in my rookie year.
Q: For those who don’t know, what exactly is senior champ kart racing? How does a normal senior champ kart race work?
A: Usually there are two lap time trials and then a feature anywhere from 20 to 60 laps.
Q: How do you mentally prepare for these races? What has to happen basically before you hit the track on race day? Walk me through the process.
A: I don’t really have any superstitions. I just look at it as a regular day, but as soon as I strap in and the helmet’s on everything goes blank in my mind and all I can focus on is running my line and making sure I’m as fast and as consistent as possible.
Q: What about the preparation for the kart itself? What does that process include?
A: Prep for the kart can be very time-consuming honestly. There’s a lot of different factors of setting up a go-kart, for example, air pressure, caster, chamber, playing with the cross weight (whether it be by moving washer in front of the spindles or moving lead weights around), etc. Set up is key when it comes to cart racing, because if you aren’t almost perfect then you don’t have a chance at being competitive with the top guys and girls.
Q: Since working on the car is such a key factor I can assume it can sometimes be costly to race. Do you have any sponsors, or do all your racing funds come out of your own pocket?
A: Karting can indeed get costly at some times especially when you have to prepare for races that have a lot to offer if you win. For example, I have a race coming up this weekend that’s 80 laps and has a $1,000 prize on the line, so I purchased eight tires to prepare myself for it. Sponsors indeed are a huge part of my racing career. My main sponsor, Racing 2 Save Lives, has been with me since 2020 and without them, I don’t think I’d be as competitive as I am today.
Q: What exactly is Racing 2 Save Lives?
A: Racing 2 Save Lives raises awareness for suicide prevention and substance abuse against opioids. They offer education and information about these things at various racing facilities throughout Connecticut and other tracks in the New England region, as well as on their social media platforms. Racing 2 Save Lives is powered by Jeff McKenna with the help of two great organizations, the Hero Project and ASAP: Advocate for Substance Abuse Prevention.
Q: How did you become involved with Racing 2 Save Lives?
A: I became involved with them through one of my best friends Alana Bessette. Racing 2 Save Lives sponsors her brother, George Bessette Jr. who races an SK Light at Stafford Speedway. Last year, I posted about looking for sponsors and the person in charge of Racing 2 Save Lives contacted me about sponsorship.
Q: Racing 2 Save Lives obviously is a very powerful message, what makes you so passionate about having them as a sponsor?
A: I’m passionate about having them as a sponsor because I’m a huge people person and I consider myself to have a huge heart and always want to put others before myself. So to know my sponsor’s main message is helping others makes me happy because I know what it’s like to go through tough times and I don’t want anyone to go through those things alone.
Q: That’s great to hear! Switching gears, you’re from the New England area which has cranked out a few notable names over the years, like Joey Logano and Ryan Preece among others. What has the influence of those big names been on your own racing career?
A: Being from New England is great because there weren’t many names you’d heard about in the high ranks of racing from the area but guys like Joey Logano and Ryan Preece put us on the map and make it feel more special. Especially Preece, because he came from karting and worked his way up the racing ladder and is a do-it-yourself track racer who likes to work on his own equipment.
Q: Speaking of big names in racing, I of course have to ask you about your friendship with Christian Eckes. How’d you become friends with him?
A: Christian and I met through my best friend Joey Ternullo who raced against Christian years ago and bandoleros and legend cars at Bethel Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl. They continue their friendship to this day. I met Christian around a year or two ago, he’s a good guy and definitely a talented racer who I feel is proving himself to be a top driver coming through the ranks with KBM and Thorsport and I hope to see him racing more in the next coming year!
Q: What influence has he had on your own racing career? Has he given you any advice?
A: I’ve never really asked him for advice if I’m honest *laughs*
Q: Alright, well before I let you go, let me ask you one final question. What is your ultimate goal with your racing career?
A: My ultimate goal is to take it slow and steady but if I can prove myself and make my way through the ranks that would be amazing! But short-term goal, I would say for the next 5 years would be to go legend car racing or run a NEMA Midget up here in New England!
Q: I hope you can get there! Thank you so much for your time Nick on behalf of everyone at Pit Box Press! Best of luck to you!
A: Thank you for having me!
Featured image credits to Nicholas Fraulino.