(Stafford Springs, CT)—After 11 seasons of chasing the Late Model title at Stafford Speedway, Kevin Gambacorta and the #23 Lavigne Law team were finally able to lock down the championship in 2023. Gambacorta was already one of 14 drivers to have won Stafford track championships in different divisions but his Late Model title enters him into the Stafford record books as the first driver to have won a championship in three different divisions.
“The fact that we’ve won 4 championships now in 3 different divisions with all the legends and Hall of Famers that have raced at Stafford and have never done that before, it’s pretty amazing and something that I‘m really proud of,” said Gambacorta. “It was an amazing season and I feel like I learned a lot. I think I gained a lot of respect and through the publicity and media stuff that Stafford does we’ve met a lot of people that I would have never met otherwise.”
Making things even more special for Gambacorta and his family is the fact that not only did he win the Late Model championship, but his son Kolton won the 2023 Wild Thing Karts Junior Outlaw championship racing at Stafford on Monday nights.
“The first thing that went through my mind when I won the championship was that my son Kolton couldn’t give me any crap because he won the championship in Wild Thing Karts and if I didn’t win the championship, he would have been all over me,” said Gambacorta. “It was a once in a lifetime experience and I can’t believe how much the video of the two of us going around the track blew up. Looking out the window at Kolton I remember thinking this is pretty cool and not a lot of people get to do something like this. It was really, really special and it’s something that I’ll remember forever.”
Gambacorta and the #23 Lavigne Law team served notice that they would once again be a championship contender with top-10 finishes in each of the first 5 races of the season. Gambacorta followed that 5-race stretch with back-to-back victories on June 23 and June 30 that put him 20 points clear of Adam Gray and 38 points clear of Tom Fearn.
“It’s really hard to be consistent in the late Model division,” said Gambacorta. “The competitors have a lot of experience, a lot of wins, a lot of championships, and a lot of really good equipment so you have to be smart about things and not be overaggressive, especially at the beginning of races. The second race that we won was on a set of used tires so we didn’t have the best car but we were able to get in there and steal a second win, which was a real surprise to us. During the summer months, I don’t know if it’s the grip, the heat, or what, but we usually struggle. This year we were really, really good and the only thing that I can attest that to is Bob Fill and this car and the setup he has in it. I know how to keep my car balanced and underneath me and not burn out my tires and 10 laps into the race I could see everyone starting to lose grip and get sideways while we didn’t.”
For the season, Gambacorta posted 3 wins, 12 top-5 and 14 top-10 finishes in 15 races with his lone blip of the 2023 season a 15th place finish on August 4th that closed the gap from Gambacorta back to Tom Fearn in second to only 4 points, or 2 positions on the track. Just when it looked like Gambacorta’s fortunes might have been changing for the worse, he rebounded with his third win of the season in the very next race and he closed out the season with top-5 finishes in each of the last 5 races to clinch the championship one race early.
“I have to thank my family, my parents for letting me use their garage for 20 something years now, my wife Sarah and my sons Kolton and Kody for making a lot of sacrifices to give me the time to do this,” said Gambacorta. “Thanks to all the people who help me on Friday nights, Kevin, Kaitlin, Mark, Rick, Matt, and my spotter Randy. Also thanks to Dave Miller from Auto Machine and Gary Lavigne, those 2 guys own all the most important parts on this car so none of this would be possible without them. There’s also Bob Fill from BFR Chassis, Jon Williams from Williams Race Gears, Dr. Sean from LifeCare Family Chiropractic, Conventional Builders, Tim and Pete from CT Axle, Bellie’s Barnyard Restaurant in Ware, MA, Hometown Pizza and J Regos for keeping the crew fed every week, Neil’s Fine Wine and Liquors for making sure the crew isn’t thirsty every week, Eric Bundy and Sam from Bundy Racing Videography, the Arutes, and all the contingency sponsors, Sunoco Race Fuels, iRacing, Manley, and Paradiso Insurance. All those sponsors really help out a little team like ours and we’re very appreciative. I need to find a tire guy so if there’s anyone who is good with tires and wants to join our team that would take a load off my shoulders.”
As consistently good as Gambacorta was during the 2023 season, he has plans in motion to make his #23 Lavigne Law car even stronger in 2024 and go for another championship.
“We already know there’s updates on the engine from Dave Miller so the engine will be better next season, and Bob Fill will have the car rolling just as good as it was this season, so the plan is to come back in 2024 and do the same thing that we did this year.”
The official 2023 Championship videos are available to watch on Stafford’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Visit youtube.com/staffordspeedway or facebook.com/StaffordMotorSpeedway to see the championship videos as well as videos with the top-5 finishers in each of Stafford’s 5 weekly divisions.
For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.