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Outlaw Factory Stock Cars: Utah Team Dominates Opening Race

| March 2, 2024

By Rick Bairett

The Bullring, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, just hosted its 2024 opener. In the “NASCAR Nostalgia Street Rod Outlaw Factory Stocks” class, LaVerkin, Utah “Race Ready Motorsports” driver Nick Nuccitelli won 1st place. His 16-year old son Tuscan took 5th place.  

Saying that Nick topped the podium is an understatement. According to Las Vegas Motor Speedway News, “Nick Nuccitelli in his…No. 6 “Thunderino” [got] a sensational 6-second win in the 20-lap NASCAR Nostalgia Street Rods Outlaw Factory Stock final. Nuccitelli, the fast qualifier, started on the pole position and never looked back.” 

Actually, Nick did look in his rearview mirror about halfway through the 20-lap feature, when entering turn one at the end of the front straight. And he saw…absolutely nobody behind him. He did see that the 3rd-place car was across the track from him on the back straight. 

The Bullring is a 3/8 mile, D-shaped asphalt oval with decently banked turns, and No. 6 was really handling well. Six seconds is about a third of a lap on such a short track, so Nick took the checkered flag with plenty of breathing space. That kind of lead is rare in regional stock car racing.

NASCAR Nostalgia Street Rod Outlaw Factory Stocks

This class features full-size cars reminiscent of NASCAR several decades ago. Where typical stock cars have wheelbase lengths from 101 to 108 inches, these must be at least 110 inches. That requirement eliminates pony cars like the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger. 

Naturally aspirated engines are limited to 360 cubic-inch displacement with 9.5:1 compression ratio. Carburetors must be Holley 2-barrels with no more than 500 CFM capacity. 

The car and driver must weigh 3400 pounds. Also, driver’s-side weight bias can be no greater than 52.5%. That’s not much for cars that are almost constantly turning left. 

So we’re talking really big, mostly 1970s – 1990s machines. Chevrolets are the easiest to find parts and support for, so they tend to dominate many stock car classes, including this one. That reality doesn’t slow down the Nuccitellis—a diehard Ford family. 

Race Week

Crushing the feature event was not a given for Nick. He first had to overcome delayed preparation, a late track arrival, and some tough racing luck. 

Because of his law enforcement duties and because he puts much of his “free” time into prepping his kids’ race cars, No. 6 was not where it needed to be earlier in the week. Fortunately, he was able to enlist the help of Utah asphalt-oval legend Bryan Shafer.

Bryan usually sticks to tube-frame cars with Mopar engines, especially Supermodifieds. But he’s also willing to help a friend with a race car. Together, Bryan and Nick got the suspension and engine setup (mostly) where they needed to be. The Nuccitellis also got great community support getting “Race Ready” from Red Rock Garage, T-Rux Painting and Bob Thomas. 

The Nuccitellis were not able to get to Vegas in time for the scheduled practice sessions. Fortunately, track officials let Nick and Tuscan sneak in 4-5 laps. Unfortunately, No. 6’s radiator fan shroud came unmoored and took out a row or two at the top of the radiator core.  

Bryan Shafer—who described himself as a mother hen for this race—with experienced track veterans Rick Crow and Tony Patelli, worked some magic with pliers to crimp off the leaking rows. That plus a generous helping of black pepper in the cooling system—an old racers’ stop-leak trick—and No. 6 was back in business for the night. 

Nick could not say enough about how grateful he was for his LaVerkin supporters and that veteran support crew. Beyond fixing problems on both cars, they gave outstanding guidance to 16-year old Tuscan, who was competing in a full-size stock car for only his second time. 

Qualifying and Racing

Three to fours cars at a time ran qualifying laps, and Nick qualified alongside one of the fastest drivers in the field. When he realized he was gaining on that car, Nick knew things were coming together nicely. In fact, he ran the fastest qualifying lap. 

Qualifying did not go smoothly for Tuscan. His car would not shift above 2nd gear and he wisely backed off to keep from over-revving the engine. It turned out that a vacuum line connecting the engine and transmission was loose, so the transmission wasn’t getting the word that it was okay to upshift. That was a relatively easy fix. Still, a low qualifying time had him starting the feature second-to-last. 

So Tuscan, in the No. 66 ‘72 Gran Torino fought his way from a 9th-position start to finish 5th. Meanwhile, Nick’s and his No. 6 “Thunderino”—a ‘75 Thunderbird hybridized with a ‘73 Gran Torino front end and engine—started at the pole position and spent all but the first few seconds of the feature race solidly in the lead. 

A (Ford) Racing Family

Nick is a 3rd-generation Ford fan, and 2nd-generation racer. His grandfather Joseph Nuccitelli—a WWII pilot—thought highly of Henry Ford for building affordable transportation for the working class. Thus, he always bought Fords. Nick’s father Joe started racing Fords in 1966—before Nick was born—so he grew up around them. 

Joe Nuccitelli’s ’63 Fairlane at Ontario Motor Speedway

It’s pretty clear the racing legacy is continuing. Tuscan is a track champion at Havasu in the miniature Bandalero class, and is in his first season in full-size stocks. Meanwhile, Nick’s 14-year old daughter Sienna has also won races at Havasu and Vegas in Bandaleros. 

Nick and his wife Katie also run the Race Ready Foundation. The foundation partners with Laverkin City and the state of Utah to help kids by combining life-skills training with building Soap Box Derby cars—of course there has to be a racing connection. 

In a digital world, the foundation gives LaVerkin 4th and 5th graders the chance to build something real, to compete and see what they’ve accomplished, and to build relationships. Learning social development and life skills, alongside their parents, is emphasized every bit as much as car building.

2024 Season

For being a rookie in full-size stock cars, Tuscan performed admirably. Not only did he work his way up from 9th to 5th, he posted solid lap times. The Nuccitellis hope to be at every race at the Bullring this season, and Tuscan has rookie-of-the-year in his sights. If he can keep developing as much as he has in his first races, that’s a real possibility.

Meanwhile, Nick has shown he can run with the fastest drivers on the track, so is hoping to finish as a points leader this season. 

Here’s wishing the Nuccitellis great racing luck and a safe and successful season!

© 2024, R Bairett

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