Anthony Alfredo will be the first to admit that his hometown of Ridgefield, Connecticut, isn’t exactly a thriving NASCAR hotbed.
"When I’m back home, none of my friends that I grew up with understand the whole racing thing because it’s not common in my part of Connecticut," said Alfredo.
That hasn’t stopped Alfredo, 19, from embarking upon a career in racing, the latest stage of which includes a full-time season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with MDM Motorsports.
Alfredo is a first-generation racer. He became a fan of NASCAR at a young age while watching races on television with his parents, both of whom are race fans.
"How I really discovered it was seeing it on TV," Alfredo explained. "My parents are race fans and my dad had gone to a lot of races before and he’d really be watching the races on the weekends. I’d sit on the couch with him and watch the races with him and then when I got old enough we’d go try out some go-kart racing."
Joined by his siblings, Alfredo spent a bit of time racing go karts before eventually giving it up to focus on playing other sports and pursuing other hobbies. Racing, at that point, was simply a hobby and nothing more.
But like so many before him and many that will come after, the racing bug had bit Alfredo.
"I missed racing," Alfredo lamented. "After five years of playing lacrosse and football and stuff like that, I really missed racing."
So in 2014 Alfredo gave racing another shot. He tried his hand at driving a Legends car and quickly realized that not only did he enjoy racing, he loved it.
"That was just to feel it out, see if it was for me and see if I really liked it as much as I thought I did," Alfredo said. "Man, did I love it."
After running about a dozen Legends car events in the Southeast, Alfredo got noticed by Lee Faulk Racing and Development and landed a deal to race limited late models across the region. He won a limited late model touring series championship in 2016 with the team, which helped him get noticed by an even bigger team – JR Motorsports.
JR Motorsports added Alfredo to their late model stock car program in 2017 and Alfredo responded in a big way. He won a pair of touring series races at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway and also won the annual Fall Brawl at Hickory, one of the biggest races of the season at the legendary North Carolina track.
While the on-track experience was important for Alfredo, he said he made sure to spend as much time as possible in the offices of JR Motorsports so he could learn as much as possible about the business side of the industry.
"In this day and age it’s really important to understand the business side of things," said Alfredo. "That’s just as important as the driving part."
Fast forward to 2018 and now Alfredo is with a new team – MDM Motorsports – as he continues his climb through the ranks of NASCAR. In addition to his work as a race car driver, Alfredo is also enrolled in college. He’s currently taking classes at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he is pursuing a degree in construction management.
"My dad does site development and commercial building, so I’ve always had an interest in that and if I wasn’t racing I’d probably do something similar to that, but obviously racing is my passion so I’m trying to pursue a career in that," Alfredo said.
"At this point in my racing career, believe it or not, I’m probably just surpassing the amount of seat time I have on heavy equipment like bulldozers or excavators," Alfredo joked.
As a full-time racer and a full-time college student, it’s hard for Alfredo to find time to enjoy hobbies, but it hasn’t stopped him. He enjoys taking part in action sports, namely things like snowboarding and skateboarding or riding snowmobiles and dirt bikes.
He’s also a big gamer and recently built his own gaming computer so he could play games like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds or Call of Duty. He also really enjoys fitness and weightlifting, which he admits has the added bonus of helping him saw on the wheel of a race car.
"My fitness obsession isn’t just because of racing because it helps me be a better racer, but I just enjoy being in the gym and weightlifting," Alfredo said. "Whether I was racing or not I would still be doing it just because I really enjoy it and living healthy lifestyle is an interest of mine."
While those are just some of his hobbies, Alfredo readily admits that racing is his passion. He wants to make a career out of it and he thinks competing this year with MDM Motorsports is the next step in doing just that.
"MDM Motorsports is a great opportunity for me. They just won the K&N East championship last year with Harrison Burton," Alfredo pointed out. "They’ve been around, it’s only been a couple of years, but man have they had a lot of success.
"My crew chief is Robert Huffman, a five-time Goody’s Dash champion. His son, Landon, is my spotter. Landon’s got a little racing experience and is one of my best friends. Oh, and my car chief is Bobby Gill (four-time champion of the old Hooters Pro Cup Series). That’s just my crew alone. Think about all the knowledge there and that doesn’t include all the other crew chiefs here and employees and mechanics and car chiefs who all have so much experience."
After a disappointing start to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida that saw him finish 24th after a late-race crash, Alfredo recently got back behind the wheel of a late model to shake off the rust at Virginia’s Langley Speedway on March 31.
Driving for former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National champion Peyton Sellers, Alfredo celebrated his 19th birthday by earning a fifth-place finish in the first of two 75-lap races. His luck ran out in the second race when contact from behind by another car caused him to spin, leading to a pileup that ended his night.
"Well, I was having a really fun birthday until that happened," Alfredo said about the incident in the second race. "We over-adjusted before qualifying and the car was loose in the corner, so we qualified 13th for race one instead of up in the top five or six where we wanted to. I was able to get up to fifth place and we were still able to manage our tires well enough to feel like we had something for race two. We just didn’t get the chance to show what we had."
Now Alfredo turns his attention to this Saturday, April 14 at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway, where he’ll get back on track with MDM Motorsports to compete in the Zombie Auto 150. Could he be the next to make his mark on Bristol’s high banks? Only time will tell.
The Zombie Auto 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway will practice and qualifying on Friday afternoon, with the green flag scheduled for approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.
News & Notes
’Eddie Mac’ Back Behind The Wheel: Nobody in the field has more experience at Bristol than Eddie MacDonald, who won the 2014 race there and has five top 10s in six starts at "The World’s Fastest Half-Mile." MacDonald will return to Bristol, but instead of his familiar No. 71, the Rawley, Massachusetts, native as been announced as the driver of Calabrese Motorsports’ No. 43 Calabrese Auto Group Toyota.
Gragson Back For More: With the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series off this weekend, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Noah Gragson is looking to add more hardware to his trophy collection. The NASCAR Next alum had six K&N Pro Series wins before moving up and will jump in the No. 54 Switch Toyota for Bristol. The Las Vegas driver has a start at Bristol in the K&N Pro Series and one on the Camping World Truck Series. Todd Gilliland piloted the No. 54 to Victory Lane in the K&N Pro East opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February.
Number Crunching: Gilliland will be at Bristol, but sporting a new number. The NASCAR Next alum will be in the No. 98 Mobil 1 Toyota for his father’s team. He’ll be teammates with Gragson and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Tyler Ankrum. Meanwhile, Tyler Dippel has moved over to the No. 41 TyCar Toyota, and Mark Rette has tabbed Canadian Grant Quinlan to fill the void in the No. 30 JRI Shocks Ford.
Rev Looks To Get Back On Track: Rev Racing had a tough opening race, with Ryan Vargas bringing home a team-best 12th-place. They’ll look to rebound at Bristol, where Ruben Garcia Jr. finished second to Harrison Burton last season. Garcia had his opening night cut short by an electrical issue.
BMR Trio Ready: Gilliland isn’t the only driver coming to Thunder Valley on a winning streak. Derek Kraus, who won the K&N Pro Series West opener at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California, last month, leads a trio of Bill McAnally Racing drivers to Tennessee. Kraus, 16, will be joined by 20-year-old Cole Rouse and 16-year-old Hailie Deegan. Rouse finished second at New Smyrna and third at Kern this year, while Deegan is coming off a seventh-place run at Kern.
International Representation: The K&N Pro Series race at Bristol has always attracted a strong international contingent, dating back to the inaugural event in 2012, won by Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr. In addition to 2015 NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series champion Garcia, Saturday’s field will include Mexico’s Juan Manuel Gonzalez and Brazilian Marcos Gomes. Gonzalez, who made his K&N Pro Series debut at New Smyrna, will pilot the No. 5 Illux/Telcel/NextGen Toyota. The 18-year-old also ran the NASCAR FedEx Challenge Series opener last month at Monterrey. Gomes, 33, is from Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, where he was the 2015 Stock Car Brasil champion.
Air Date: The Zombie Auto 150 will air on NBCSN on Friday, April 20 at 1 a.m.