50 Greatest Modified Drivers – John “Reggie” Ruggiero
Reggie Ruggiero was the 1983 Modified track Champion at Stafford Motor Speedway and he has 25 Stafford wins to his credit. When Ruggiero came to Stafford in 1981, he was already considered a veteran, having eleven years under his belt. In his rookie season at Stafford, driving for Mario Fiore, Ruggiero scored his first of many wins beating the likes of Richie Evans, Ronnie Bouchard and Bugsy Stevens: the big guns of the day. Among his major event wins are the Spring Sizzler in 1987 and 1993, the Fall Final in 1984, 1987 and 1989, the Winston 100 in 1983 and 1987, and the Connecticut Classic 150 in 1992 and 1993.
Ruggiero began his racing career in 1970 at the now closed Plainville Stadium. For the most part, Ruggiero drove his own cars and when Plainville closed at the end of the 1980 season, the Forestville, Connecticut resident had accumulated 20 wins. It was during the mid 1970s when Ruggiero got teamed up with Mario Fiore and the team became the one to beat at Riverside Park.
The relationship with Fiore over the years has been one of love-hate, but when things were right, they made magic as a team. In addition to his Stafford Championship, Ruggiero has won track titles at Monadnock Speedway in 1979 and 1988, Riverside Park in 1979 and 1984, and has been the runner-up in the NASCAR Modified Series on five occasions. His credentials also include major event wins at Martinsville, Virginia and Thompson, Connecticut.
Ruggiero ran the NASCAR Modified Tour from its inception in 1985 through the 2009 season, registering 44 career wins, second to only Mike Stefanik, who won 74 races. Ruggiero is one of the Fifty Greatest Modified Drivers of All-Time as voted by the public, part of the Stafford Salutes NASCAR at 50 program.
By: Phil Smith