Courtesy: Paul Schaefer (hometracks.nascar.com)

 

Scott Gafforini, his 15-year-old race car, and the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are a winning trifecta – time and time again.

His 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season has opened with a pair of Super Late Model wins and runner-up finishes in the first four races at the .375-mile paved oval situated next door to the 1.5-mile speedway. His 36 career Bullring Super Late Model feature wins and three championships lead both categories at the track. Gafforini, 45, of Henderson, won his third title in 2011 and sits atop the 2012 standings.

Gafforini considers himself to be an ‘old school’ racer with roles as owner, driver, crew chief, shock builder and fabricator. He knows his way around race cars, and definitely knows how to get around The Bullring.

“The car I’m winning with this year is the same one I won the inaugural race when the track was reconfigured in 2000. It’s a 1997 Howe chassis,” Gafforini said. “I seem to have a feel for the Bullring that’s hard to explain.

“It’s a big D-shaped oval with a really nice arc driving into turn three,” Gafforini said. “I enter the turn full throttle, do a one-two tap on the brakes, then launch off turn four. I get a calm soothing feeling going through turns three and four every lap. People ask me how I do it. I just think every car is different, every driver is different, and every driver has a different feel for balance. It’s my little niche for some reason.”

Gafforini’s 2011 racing record included seven wins, 17 top-fives and 17 top-10s in 18 starts.

In addition to the wins and 2006, 2008 and 2011 championships, Gafforini holds many other track records.

“I broke every record Kyle Busch set here,” Gafforini said. Both Busch brothers began their racing careers at The Bullring. “I think Saturday night local racing heroes can be competitive with any national racing hero. Nobody knows their race cars like guys at the weekly tracks.”

Gafforini followed his father, Roger, into racing. In tribute to him this year, Gafforini’s race car carries the blue and white paint scheme used on his dad’s 1958 Ford Claimer division car in 1968. At age 13 Gafforini began racing go-karts at the old Craig Road Speedway in North Las Vegas and moved up to Hobby Stocks at The Bullring in 1993. He began racing Super Late Models with car owner Fletcher Jones in 1997.

He bought the car from Jones in 2001. Jones is a Las Vegas Toyota-Scion dealer where Gafforini is a service manager and a certified Toyota Master Mechanic.

Gafforini shares his race shop with cars he built for two other drivers, Dennis Rock and John Spilotro. Team members, who work with all three drivers and cars, include Roger Gafforini, Eric Kirchner, Tony Blanchard of www.race101.net, Vince Bianchi, and Rich Ham. Howard Holmes of Vegas Machine is the engine builder.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short-track auto racing. The series encompasses more than 50 speedways across the United States and Canada.

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series information is available at http://hometracks.nascar.com.