Ithaca College Quarterly, Summer 1998


By Dennis Read

Former IC quarterback Tim Connolly '83 is now passionate about NASCAR

During his time at Ithaca College, Tim Connolly ’83 made his name as a record-setting passer before his football career was cut short by knee injuries. More than 15 years later, Connolly is still passing—but now it’s at more than 150 miles per hour.

The former Bombers quarterback is now an all-star in another sport: auto racing. Connolly, 37, is one of the top drivers in the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour, NASCAR’s oldest touring series. The tour consists of 23 races throughout the Northeast and has been a training ground for drivers like Geoff Bodine and Jimmy Spencer, stars of NASCAR’s prestigious Winston Cup.

Last season Connolly won four races and finished second in the overall points standings. In his 10 years on the tour, Connolly has won seven races and almost $300,000 in purse money. Not bad for a guy who didn’t start racing cars until his mid-20s.

He came to the sport almost by chance, taking in the Daytona 500 while on vacation in Florida. "I was hooked," Connolly says. "The sights and the sounds and the whole experience really impressed me."

He bought a street car, slightly modified for racing, and headed for Shangri-La Speedway in Owego, now known as Tioga Speedway. "I was so naive that I thought I would just get a car and go beat everyone," he says. "I found out this sport is more complex than any football program I had been involved in. I left the track that first night with my tail between my legs."

But Connolly had an intense desire to succeed and a secret weapon: the father of one of his friends. Lew Parks has turned wrenches for some of the best teams in racing, including Indy 500 winners. He took his son’s friend under his wing as Connolly set out to be a racer.  


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