Greenwich’s Smeriglio Living the Dream as NASCAR Owner
By Paul Silverfarb
It’s obvious that Greenwich’s Mike Smeriglio loves numbers. As a certified public accountant, numbers are kind of his thing.
While he helps a plethora of people navigate through the wild world of taxes, Smeriglio needs absolutely no assistance navigating his way to the winner’s circle at a NASCAR Modified Tour event.
Smeriglio, who has been a racing team owner for over 25 years, has had the time of his life recently and this year was capped off in grand style yet again as his driver, Doug Coby, a Milford resident, took home the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship for the fourth consecutive year.
“To have the run that we have had, with the team members, crew, crew chief and driver, it has been historic,” Smeriglio said. “There’s no other way around it. It’s been an unbelievable ride for the past four years.”
In the four straight years of taking home the championship, this year was the most challenging for Smeriglio and his team. The No. 2 Modified Car won only two pole positions this season and captured one championship at the Seekonk Speedway back in late August. They ran into some tough luck, with crashes spinouts and other issues causing Coby’s car to fall back from the lead.
However, Smeriglio’s team was consistent. They led 704 laps this season, averaged just above a top five starting spot and had 10 finishes this season in the top five.
“The last four years have been just the epitome of racing,” Smeriglio said. “You win races, win poles and lead laps but at the end of the day it’s all about trying to be the champion.”
When talking about his racing team, and NASCAR in general, it’s hard to wipe the smile off of Smeriglio’s face. After all, racing and being involved in the sport has been in his life since he was a youth.
At a very young age, Smeriglio’s father would take him up north 30 minutes to the Danbury Fair. At the fair, Smeriglio said they had some pretty cool stunt drivers, but every Saturday night they had the Danbury Racearena. That has some pretty historic roots in racing circles.
“My involvement was through my dad, as a spectator,” Smeriglio said. “As I got older, I didn’t want to get involved with being a mechanic or a crew chief. I didn’t have that talent, and I didn’t have that desire or guts to drive, I figured the only way I could enjoy the sport would be a car owner.”
For Smeriglio, it’s the family environment and the winning process that he cherishes the most.
“There’s about 13 or 16 of us that are involved with the race team,” said Smeriglio. “For me, the most enjoyment is when we are winning. Whether we are winning a practice, winning qualifying or winning a race. It doesn’t get old. We race on some very large tracks. We have raced at Daytona, Bristol and New Hampshire Motor Speedway and when you can win in front of 80,000 people, it still gives me goosebumps knowing that we were the best on that day.”
And it was his first win that’s something Smeriglio won’t soon forget.
“We were in Daytona and I was actually part of the pit crew that went over the wall and changed a tire,” Smeriglio said. “That was pretty memorable. But I’m a little too old to b e going over the wall helping guys on pit road.”
Owning a racing team is only part of the fun for Smeriglio, who is a Certified Public Accountant in Greenwich and has his business located on 108 River Road. Smeriglio said that owning a racing team certainly helps with his company’s visibility.
“We have quite a bit of clients in the area that are in the automotive industry,” Smeriglio said. “We do a lot of tax projections, tax returns and a lot of day-to-day coaching for a lot of other team and a lot of other race supporters, whether it’s a race track or mechanical parts or automotive parts. We have our hands pretty wrapped into the racing world.”
Whether on the walking the streets or through his accounting business, the one question people ask Smeriglio isn’t about tax preparation, property taxes, audits or anything financial. They all want to know if he has gone behind the wheel of his car and wreak havoc on the asphalt.
“If I wanted to wreck every single time, then yes, I would drive it,” Smeriglio said. “I have done driving schools at Charlotte and a couple of other tracks and enjoyed it tremendously, but it’s one thing to be a driver that goes fast. It’s completely different agenda to be a racer behind the wheel. You can drive and not crash, but to be a racer and pass and have success, that’s a different level of ability.”
So don’t worry. Greenwich residents won’t see Smeriglio cruising down Greenwich Ave. in his No. 2 modified NASCAR any time soon.
“We have a little fun at the race shop, Smeriglio said. “But trust me, it’s a big investment and I don’t want to screw it up. I would rather have the driver screw it up so I could be mad at him, not at me.”