Easily one of the most well-spoken and knowledgeable drivers with regard to the safety aspects of automobile racing, Tony Siscone (March 25, 1949) of Hammonton, New Jersey, was an outstanding asphalt Modified stock-car racer whose many victories and track titles along with a pleasing manner and attitude easily made him one of the most popular competitors of his era.
Siscone began Go-Kart racing in the early 1960s in rides that his father Tony Sr. tuned to perfection and even though they were not yet legal in New Jersey he recorded many regional victories and was a bona fide contender in International Karting Federation national events.
Then in 1973 Siscone got his first Sportsman ride in the No. T3 that was fielded by Richie Terusso and his brothers Mario and Paul, and the Rider College graduate with a degree in Business Education won four races each in the Garden State at the one-third-mile Wall Stadium and the old half-mile Atlantic City Speedway. He also won “Rookie of the Year” honors at both tracks, while Richie Terusso claimed Wall’s car owner’s title.
In 1973-1974 the then-high school business teacher drove the Terusso Bros. No. T2 Modified at Wall and his early promise was highlighted in 1974 by his first track title at Atlantic City in the No. T4 Sportsman that was owned by his father and Tony Ruberti.
Siscone then quickly became a top runner in cars owned by such noted owners as EMPA Hall of Famer Tom Skinner, John Lyons, Ed Brown, Sal DeBruno, Frank Ransom, Billy “The Whale” Graham, Freddie Burdge and Tom Green. And then in late 1978 he began what turned out to be a 16½-year career driving the famed red No. 14 Modified that was fielded by legendary car owner Dick Barney.
With the Barney ride – that was known as “Big Red” – Siscone won 109 of his 169 career victories and the powerful Siscone/Barney combo was such a force that in 1983 they easily won the New Egypt Speedway NASCAR Championship by finishing in the top-3 in every race on the old one-fifth-mile asphalt oval with no DNF’s.
During Siscone’s 22-year Stock Car career, he recorded 12 track championships in New Jersey, and they include: Sportsman titles at Atlantic City (1974, 1976 & 1978); plus Modified titles at Wall (1980, 1982-1984 & 1988-1989); New Egypt (1983); and, Flemington Fair Speedway (1993 & 1994). And although a winner at just about every track where he raced, he was especially tough on Flemington’s old 5/8-mile “square” where in the early 1990s he won 11 consecutive features and his overall record of 60 Wall victories ranks him second in all-time wins there behind EMPA Hall of Famer Gil Hearne.
A four-time winner of Wall’s Garden State 200 (1982, 1984, 1989 & 1991), Siscone was always a strong advocate for racing and driver safety but the unusual thing about this is that on Oct. 31, 1982, he suffered serious burns to his hands during one of the most spectacular accidents in Modified history – a fiery backstretch crash with Ray Evernham at the half-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. However, Siscone recovered from those injuries to race again and in 1984, in true storybook fashion, he went back to Martinsville and won the Cardinal 500, one of the premier events in NASCAR asphalt Modified racing.
After this popular victory, Siscone raced for 10 more years with considerable success and in 1987 he and his wife Margi opened Safety Connection, which was a well-known national purveyor of top-name automobile racing safety equipment that they operated for some 14 years.
Then, on Oct. 30, 1994, he capped-off his impressive career when he won the prestigious 250-lap 44th Annual Sunoco Race of Champions at Flemington and immediately retired from driving while standing in Victory Lane.
“I always wanted to go out a winner,” Siscone said as he made the surprise announcement and he devoted the rest of his time in racing to the development of his Safety Connection business.