Meet Joey Ternullo, a 22-year-old SK modified driver from Middletown, Connecticut. Joey began racing in 2006 and has been racing for 16 years now. I sat down with the young modified driver to ask about his racing roots, the influence of a hometown champion, a modified legend, and a childhood friend, and the Connecticut racing scene.
Q: Would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
A: I’m Joey Ternullo! I’m 22 years old and I was born and raised in Middletown, Connecticut where I still currently live. I’ve been racing since I was seven years old. I began racing in 2006 at Silver City Quarter Midget Club in Meriden, Connecticut. Since 2010, I’ve raced at Waterford Speedbowl, where I have raced bandoleros, legend cars, and SK modifieds. I am also in my last semester of college at Central Connecticut State University!
Q: What was your first introduction to the world of racing? Was it something you were born into or something that you discovered on your own?
A: My father and uncle were always into racing, so it’s always been in my family. I’ve had a passion for anything fast or that had a motor for as long as I can remember. When I was six we passed by the track where I got my start and I was starstruck. I told my dad I wanted to start racing and that winter we did research and bought my first car.
Q: What was your first car? What kind of racing did you start in?
A: It was a quarter midget. Joey Logano actually started in the same type of car, at the same track! I raced at that track (Silver City Quarter Midget Club) from 2006 to 2009, where I racked up many victories, grabbing some cool trophies along the way! My last win there was a Halloween race called a pumpkin race, and it’s one of my favorite memories!
Q: After quarter midgets, what kind of racing did you move on to?
A: I then moved on to bandoleros at Waterford Speedbowl! I raced them from 2010-2012 and I scored 13 total victories!
Q: Was the shift from quarter midgets to bandoleros a difficult one?
A: The size of the track was the hardest jump. I adapted to the new car pretty quickly though. My first race was in April, and I scored my first win by the end of June.
Q: What came next after bandoleros?
A: Legend cars came next, which I raced from 2012 to 2017. I won 22 races overall! I was also the track champion in 2013, the youngest in the track’s history at just 14 years old! I was also undefeated in 2017, at the Saturday night races!
Q: So after legends, you made the jump to modifieds, correct?
A: Correct! I started in 2018, and I still am!
Q: What has your experience been like with racing modifieds?
A: It’s been pretty awesome! I’ve dreamed of racing a modified since I started racing at Waterford, and it finally happened! It’s very hard when competing against the best in the country, but I’m still having fun and learning each week.
Q: It can get pretty dangerous I bet. You were actually involved in quite a scary wreck recently. Would you mind telling our readers about what happened?
A: It happened on June 26th at Waterford. I started on the pole, the car wasn’t the best so we were stuck in the top five most of the day. On the last lap, the leader and the car in second made contact in turn one sending them up the track. My spotter told me to stay low, and I stayed as low as I could without pinching the car under me in the grass. When we exited the turn I made contact with the cars on both the inside and the outside of me as we went three-wide. I hooked the wheels and took off into the backstretch wall, before I knew it I was climbing the wall and ended up going upside down.
Q: Were you hurt at all as a result of the wreck?
A: I woke up feeling really dizzy and had a major headache. I went to the doctors a few days later and found out I had a mild concussion.
Q: Because of the results of the wreck, are you at all scared to race again?
A: A little bit, it was traumatic for sure but I think once I get back to the track and practice a little I will forget about it and just focus on doing what I am meant to do!
Q: I’m glad you are doing better now! Switching over to a more light-hearted note, let’s talk about the racing influences surrounding you. You, obviously are from the hometown of Joey Logano, and you actually went to school with Ryan Preece, what has their influence been on your racing career?
A: I try to just look at the paths those guys chose in their racing careers. They play their cards right and we’re surrounded by great people who believed in them and had tremendous amounts of support. I think that’s the biggest thing in racing. It’s not just about you as a driver and being at the track, what goes on outside the track has a big influence on who you are and what you can do to make yourself more successful.
Q: Further on that note, what about your friendship with Christian Eckes? How has he helped you with your racing career, what advice has she given you?
A: He’s been a great friend of mine since racing legend cars. He’s always available to take a call and talk about our upcoming race weekends and offer me advice. It’s pretty cool to talk to someone who’s around and drives at such a high level of competition.
Q: That’s definitely awesome to have his friendship in your life, I bet! Lastly, I want to wrap up this interview by asking you what is the ultimate goal for you with your racing career?
A: My ultimate goal is to race for as long as I can. Even if the funds aren’t there I’m hopeful that I can find appropriate sponsorship to help me continue doing what I love. I see myself staying in the SK’s for a while as I believe I could get a win very soon! I also want to give a shout-out to my sponsor Laticrete International, Inc. They’ve been sponsoring me since 2010 and have been a great supporter. Without them, my racing career up to this point would not have been possible!
Q: Alright well on behalf of everyone at Pit Box Press, thank you so much Joey for your time! Best of luck to you!
A: Thank you so much!
Featured image credits to Daniel Eugene Photography.