John Montecalvo’s Thursday didn’t include a flight, a layover or a lengthy delay at an airport. Instead, he hopped on the Orient Point Ferry for a quick boat ride, followed by an easy ride to Epping, N.H.
Just that fact brings a smile to the Long Island native’s face, but that’s only the start for Montecalvo. He’ll race at his home track – New England Dragway – at this weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals, the last of four races for the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class in 2019.
It’s also the site of his first national event win, which came 20 years ago in IHRA. Two decades later, Montecalvo hopes to claim his first Wally at his home track in a year that has meant so much to the Mountain Motor Pro Stock veteran.
“I remember that we dominated all weekend and the place was jam-packed,” Montecalvo said. “For me personally, I’ve got a lot of IHRA trophies, a lot of ADRL trophies, I’ve got PDRA trophies, but I don’t have a Wally. With this being the last race of the year, I’ve got a win in my sights. That would be fantastic.”
Montecalvo can get used to more jam-packed stands this weekend.
The track has drawn massive crowds ever since the NHRA held its inaugural event in Epping in 2013, creating one of the more memorable scenes each year. It’s a scene Montecalvo remembers well from his IHRA days, but making his NHRA debut at the track is something he’s been waiting for since the 2019 MMPS schedule was announced.
“There’s good, solid door slammer fans there,” Montecalvo said. “We’ve got people coming in from Canada, Maine, and really as far as I’m concerned, it’s my home track. I’m really looking forward to this race.”
Montecalvo’s huge group of family and friends will be joined by legions of fans from the Northeast and Canada, all who have helped create a special scene at the facility.
Montecalvo said he’s been getting phone calls for months from people stating their excitement for Mountain Motor Pro Stock’s return to New England Dragway. Coupled with the massive anticipation fans have for the annual NHRA race in the area, and Montecalvo is expecting something special this weekend. He hopes that translates to his performance as well as he looks to end his 2019 NHRA season in style.
“It’s incredible how much they love the door cars,” Montecalvo said. “Bringing the Mountain Motors back, there’s certainly been a lot of buzz about it. People were excited when they saw us on the schedule for this race. They’re just real doorslammer fans and they’re excited. It makes you want to excel and it puts a little more bounce in your step. As far as I’m concerned, I wish we could race there eight times a year.”
More than anything, Montecalvo wants his first NHRA win after watching John DeFlorian, Todd Hoerner and Chris Powers win the three events thus far.
But this season has also allowed Montecalvo to reflect on what has been a spectacular career across a number of series.
Getting a NHRA win would be the crown jewel on an incredible resume, especially if it could happen at New England Dragway.
It would also provide significant boost for his 2020 NHRA season. Seeing the impressive momentum and taking in the tremendous fan response the class has received this year, he predicts even bigger things from MMPS next season.
That means a bigger schedule, more marquee names and, in Montecalvo’s case, plenty of success.
“I think it’s going to be over the top next year,” Montecalvo said. “I think there’s going to be some surprises revealed in the next month or two about who’s coming back. The interest is incredible with people building new cars and all of this wouldn’t have occurred without racing in the NHRA, there’s no doubt.
“It’s brought a lot of excitement to the class. To me, it’s the highlight of my career to be able to bring our cars over to NHRA and put them on the big stage where they belong.”