Despite Riverhead Raceway being in his own backyard, Ken Massa didn’t know about modified cars or the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. That all changed in the summer of 2009.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what the modifieds were,” said Ken Massa, owner of Kenneth Massa Motorsports. “After the race ended I went to the pits and talked with everyone. I took it all in and thought that it was a great family sport and really enjoyed seeing the camaraderie between the drivers and crews.”
By the end of 2009, Massa would own a car, truck, trailer and had hired driver Justin Bonsignore, signaling the birth of Kenneth Massa Motorsports.
“It was something I wanted to see if I could actually pull it off and win,” he said.
Before Massa and Bonsignore could become the current longest car owner/ driver pairing on the Whelen Modified Tour with a decade spent together, Massa recalled his first interaction with the 2018 champion.
“I think he finished fourth at Riverhead,” Massa said. “I went to the pits and introduced myself and told him I was thinking about starting my own team and if he was interested in talking about it.”
Bonsignore, accompanied by his father and along with a few crewmembers, met with Massa.
“They were upfront from the beginning and they had some of the equipment,” the 45-year-old said. “I thought it was a good matching because I didn’t even have a screwdriver.”
As a brand new owner, Massa’s biggest battle came with learning the business.
“It was a lot of learning,” the Long Island native said. “We went through three different car manufacturers. We tried everything. We had some success early, but there were some personnel changes along the way. There were some ‘bad eggs’ on the team and we had to sift through, but more than half the team has been with me since day one.”
According to Massa, it’s not spending the most money or having the best equipment, driver or crew; it’s the relationship you build with your team.
“The relationship with the entire team makes the difference,” he said. “It’s a team sport.”
During the summer, Massa said he holds a ‘Sunday Fun Day’ at his house where he invites his crew over to swim in his pool and enjoy a barbeque.
Despite being a “car guy,” Massa along with his wife founded M3 Technology, LLC in 1998.
“The Aerospace & Defense Solutions Company” supplies various parts to airplane companies used for commercial and military use.
Massa said his business, based in Bellport, New York, is a supplier to companies that are tasked with building Black Hawk, C-130 and “Huey” helicopters.