Family's Passion for Racing Spans Three Generations
Aug 31, 2018 11:42AM
By Jennifer Monahan
Glenn, Terry and Derek Stefanick
Derek Stefanick’s passion for building and racing super late model stock cars was almost inevitable. His grandfather raced cars. His father, Glenn Stefanick, married his mother, Terry, on a Friday so that he could compete in a race that Saturday night. Despite the family tradition, as a kid, Derek Stefanick considered the sport boring.
It was only as a teen, after hearing his friend’s name announced on the loudspeaker as the second-place finisher, that Derek Stefanick became interested in racing. He explained, “I rooted for my friend and started hanging around the track more. I got to be friends with Bob Walters, the guy who built his engines, and I did some landscaping for him. I joked with Bob that he should let me drive for him, instead of paying me.”
That was nine years ago, and Derek Stefanick has been driving off and on ever since.
Though both father and son describe racing as a hobby and have full-time jobs outside the sport, Derek Stefanick said they typically spend 15 to 20 hours a week working on the car in addition to the travel time and competitions during the weekends. “It’s a lifestyle,” he explained.
The lifestyle can be time-consuming and costly. Race season typically runs from March through September. The Stefanicks hope to compete in 20 races by the end of the season. While the duo has placed well, stock car racing is expensive. High-end equipment to haul the car costs between $400,000 and $500,000. The car itself is around $45,000—without an engine. Engines add another $50,000. Though the Stefanicks race on a small budget with used equipment, it’s still not cheap.
According to Glenn Stefanick, the lifestyle offers the family a lot of bonding time and fun. In addition to the hours he and his son spend together building and repairing the car, he said that they often travel to races with friends and family. “We pack beer and sandwiches and we sit and talk into the night,” he explained.
“It’s a supportive community,” Derek Stefanick said of the other driving teams. “If people see that someone is in trouble after a wreck, they’ll step in. People will sometimes loan each other a part. There are a lot of good people.”
The race itself is another draw. Glenn Stefanick explained, “When that green flag drops, everything drops out of your mind. Anything you’re worried about goes away and you just race.” Derek Stefanick does most of the driving these days, and recently surprised his father by swapping out his own number 44, racing instead with Glenn Stefanick’s number 65 on the car.
Both Stefanicks hope to continue their involvement, which has become a family affair. Terry Stefanick, and the couple’s oldest son, Tim, often travel to races, along with Derek’s girlfriend, Angela Carolla. Glenn Stefanick said he jokes with his wife about celebrating their anniversary at the same location as their honeymoon—at the racetrack.