Racing in NASCAR is a huge commitment of time, talent and resources, especially financial resources. Sponsorships, or lack thereof, often dictate who has a ride and who doesn’t. The odds seem to be stacked against any small or single car team who tries to compete against the big organizations like Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing.
That doesn’t bother Mike Affarano, who made his NASCAR Xfinity Series owner debut this weekend at Richmond International Raceway with Johanna Long piloting his No. 03 car. Despite the fact that Long failed to qualify for the race, both Affarano and Long remain steadfast about the ultimate prize – racing in NASCAR.
“To race in NASCAR is an honor, but there is definitely a huge disadvantage for the lower-funded teams,” Affarano said. He is still searching for sponsorship for the No. 03 team.
The issues don’t stop with money though. Access to information has been equally challenging for the team. Although Affarano has experience in ARCA and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the technical inspection process in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is very different.
“The learning curve is huge. The car is being measured with lasers and other templates that we do not have access to. We are learning what they are looking for. It would be great to have a buddy system for new or small teams so we can learn from someone who has been doing it for a while,” he said.
If his history with coping with personal challenges is any indication, Affarano will do just fine. In 2005, the tragic death of his teenage son made him rethink his priorities, putting his own racing aspirations on hold for six years, then later returning to race in the ARCA Series. In May 2012 he took the ultimate tumble at Talladega, crashing into the outside wall, then flipping and rolling six and a half times down the front stretch. Even that crash didn’t keep Affarano down for long.
“My personal challenges and losses left me with needing a purpose. I have always reached for the unreachable, so being a NASCAR team owner just fits,” Affarano said.
“What I really want to do is not only find Johanna sponsorships, but I also want to be able to help young drivers like I had been helped by others. With my experience in ARCA, the Truck Series and the Xfinity Series, I can bring young drivers up through the ranks,” he said.
Affarano acknowledges he always supports women drivers.
“Someone asked me why I particularly liked working with women racers. That’s easy. They tend to have a great work ethic. They work hard, they never complain, and they appreciate everything that you do for them.”
Skirts & Scuffs – By Carol D’Agostino – April 24, 2015