By Patrick Reynolds
A few years ago, I called Mario Fiore to ask if he would like to come on my radio show as a guest. I figured the phone conversation would be brief and could fit into time when my young daughter was brushing her teeth and getting on her PJs for bed.
Fiore fielded a team in Northeast asphalt Modified events since before I attended my first race. His familiar number 44 was a consistent entrant in the Northeast for decades before finally calling it quits in 2000. Over the years his drivers included Mike Stefanik, Rick Fuller, and one he is likely most associated with, Reggie Ruggiero.
After Fiore answered the phone, I introduced myself, told him a little bit about the show and asked him to be a guest. Fiore did not give me a short yes or no answer. He embraced the idea of doing the radio spot and was eager to come on the air. That night we talked and traded racing stories for a long time. Long enough to where Colleen became a Mario fan because she got to stay up way paste her bedtime with my extended phone call. In the years to come she would refer to Mario as “my friend that likes to talk.”
I recall Fiore and me talking not like a couple of guys that just met, but like two old friends who were catching up after being separated for many years. The storytelling that night lasted far longer than the radio show segment would and I knew we were in good shape when the broadcast rolled around.
RacersReunion promoted his appearance on the show and I made many new friends from the Modified community through Mario.
During that broadcast, Fiore shared stories of his early start in the sport at Connecticutâ€™s Plainville Stadium, his Race of Champions win with Billy Pauch, the successful business model he had with his racing team, Gary Colturi, Jerry Marquis, and others. That was just what we had time for. Fiore could have filled hours of airtime.
That show was the number one rated program on the network for the week.
We kept up the communication over the years and he made a few more stops on future broadcasts to chat about Modifieds past and present. A guy I used to admire from afar and read about in the pages of Speedway Scene, was one of the easiest men to become friends with.
As I write this, Fiore passed away earlier in the day due to illness. The Northeast lost a tremendous racer.
Godspeed, Mario. Your stories were the figurative definition of bench racing. I wish we could have you on the radio just one more time. Thanks for the many, many, memories.
Patrick Reynolds is a former professional NASCAR mechanic who hosts Speedway Report Mondays 7pm ET/ 4pm PT onÂ www.racersreunionradio.com.Â Follow on Twitter @SpeedwayPat.Â