Seventeen year old Joe Sostilio won the first race he ever ran, in a
Model A in1932. By 1935, he won the New England Dirt Championship,
driving the “big cars”, which were similar to today’s sprints. He
successfully defended his championship in 1936, running at events
mainly throughout New England, although he ventured to tracks as far
south as Florida and as far west as California throughout his 30
year career. In 1938, Sostilio won the New England Midget
Championship. The following year, in ’39, he won the Vermont State
Midget Championship. Joe stopped racing from 1941 to ’44, in order
to serve his country during World War II.
returned to his midget roots in 1945, competing in the Bay State
Midgets Racing Association, finishing second to Bobby Blair by a one
point margin. 1946 found Joe driving the Koopman Offy, and he
competed at tracks from Seekonk, Mass to Akron, Ohio. 1947 was a
good year for Sostillio. Driving the 54 Leader Card Offy, he won 31
features, taking down 23 seconds and 12 third place finishes on his
way to a BSMRA Championship.
Joe running stock cars. He discovered a small track in South Bend,
Indiana at which he particularly enjoyed competing. He traveled
from New England to South Bend for three consecutive weeks, taking
down the win in all three features.
Joe was running a AAA Big Car. Joe teamed up with Indy 500 winner
Johnnie Parsons, and the two became a feared twosome. He continued
running the big car, and took down the 1953 Eastern Sprint Car
Championship. Throughout his years with AAA, he was considered a
standout driver, along with fellow topnotch competitors Joie
Chitwood, who later went on to head the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show,
Indy 500 winner Lee Wellard, Bill Holland, and Tony Bettenhausen.
Sostilio passed away on July 9, 2000. His obituary talked about a
racing career that included over 300 midget and sprint car feature
wins. Today, we honor Joe Sostilio and that career, as he is
inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame.