NASCAR driver Salvatore Iovino hopes to be a top contender for next season. The 33-year-old Los Angeles native is accustomed to working under pressure, and in addition to an intense prep schedule for races, he runs a million-dollar company he formed in 2013, Integrated Tower Services LLC. Iovino is currently gearing up for two races this weekend and he hopes to eventually win the Sprint Cup. Rolling out had a chance to speak with him about his interest in motorsports, the challenges of racing, and his advice for up-and-coming drivers.
What sparked your interest in working with motorsports?
I’ve actually had an interest in working with motorsports my whole life.I grew up being a huge Dodge Viper fan. Unfortunately, racing itself is very expensive. It wasn’t until I had formed my own company that I was really able to dive into racing from a financial aspect. In 2012, I took advantage of my interest in motorsports to do as much racing as possible. I had bought a Dodge Charger and within a year I had converted it from 425-hp to 1500-hp. I just raced all over the country. I live in Atlanta and would drive out to California to do races. Wherever there was a race I was going to be in it. That enabled me to do records in my car. I built a fan page and the opportunity to do NASCAR came about. I took it and ran with it. That’s kind of how I am with everything that I do.
It goes without saying that racing is an extremely dangerous sport. Does your family have any concerns about your safety?
My mom is a nervous wreck about it. The night before last I told her I was in Vegas to see if she wanted to come out and watch the race. She says, “You’re racing?” She thought the season was over, but I told her that I’m doing dirt racing. She was like “Why do you have to do all these different kinds of racing?” She’s worried that something will happen to me. She’s supportive, but very nervous at the same time. For the most part, all of my family is nervous just because racing can be dangerous but [they] are supportive too.
Did you have any drivers that you looked up to when you were younger?
I wasn’t into NASCAR when I was younger. I had an interest in just cars in general and just motorsports. I was never really a big fan of NASCAR. I didn’t really have a driver I looked up to or watched. Since I became a NASCAR fan, I have met some of the best drivers, like Danica Patrick and more. I met a lot of the guys racing in the Sprint Cup Series.
What is the best advice you’ve been given by another driver?
The most inspirational advice that I get comes from my teammates that race on my team. Mainly because we spend a lot of time together traveling the country racing. They are very supportive. The best advice that we give each other is not to give up and keep working hard to accomplish your goals. Nothing is impossible. What I am doing is almost impossible in the NASCAR racing world because we don’t come from that background.
How do you handle heat exhaustion during a race?
I’ve actually received a lot of obstacles in a car because it is extremely hot and we don’t have AC or radio. We had a race a few months ago in Idaho where it was 126-degree track temperature. It was brutal going into the race, but it was worse afterward. There was a two-car crash. It was so bad NASCAR had to throw a red flag, meaning that everybody needs to stop their car and wait. I sat in my suit for 45 minutes and I was starting to get heat exhaustion. I started to get tingly and thirsty. I couldn’t access my water bottle so as we’re sitting there I was melting. We finally restarted the race and I had 25 laps to go and wasn’t improving. I thought maybe with some air flow coming in that maybe I would get better. I had actually debated pulling off the track and say I couldn’t do it. I hung in there, but was still debating pulling out with just five laps to go because it was so brutal. Now I don’t race without using Cool Shirts Systems to keep my body cooled down under my suit.
What do you do to prep before a race?
That’s hard to answer. To mentally prepare myself for a race I spend a lot of time using my racing simulator for practice. Mentally, I start focusing in on the conditions of the track. It’s really hard to focus because there are so many outside things going on. You have social media and autograph signings. You have to stay mentally focused before the race. I try my best to do so.
In addition to being a NASCAR driver, you also run your own business. How do you manage to juggle both?
It’s been a challenge because my business there is so much going on with it. The telecommunications industry is such a fast pace industry because it deals with people’s cellphones. We have to be on top of it. I am all over the country so I have to be available 24/7 by email or phone. If the customer needs something I have to organize it. In my absence, my team is able to take care of what I am not able to get done when I am not there. My sleep schedule is really screwed up.
What kind of services does your company offer?
We’re a turnkey company so any type of build or maintenance or upgrade. Before LTE came out we were building LTE cell sites all over Georgia and Alabama years before it had even launched. We do anything on-site that requires maintenance, upgrades, installing fibers, and integration. We can do all of that.
NASCAR is recognizing you as a championship contender next season. How does that make you feel?
I wouldn’t say that NASCAR is recognizing me as that. I would say more that next year that I am contending for the championship. My goal is just to complete the impossible and win a championship. For someone that dove into NASCAR out of nowhere and now I am out here competing with some of the best drivers in the world [is unbelievable]. NASCAR has the most popular driver award coming up. Voting ends on Nov. 19. I am working really hard to win that award. It would be a huge way to move up in the next series. Luckily, I have had a ton of support from thousands of followers voting. If I am lucky enough to win, you will see a lot more of me in the media.