Balancing Act: NASCAR Drivers’ Jockeys Dream of a Career While Attending Temple Law School

It’s 3 a.m. and Stephen Mallozzi has just completed a more than eight-hour drive from Martinsville, Virginia, to arrive at his home in New Jersey. The state trip followed Mallozzi competing as a driver in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

He unpacks his things and goes to bed shortly before 4am. The morning will come early for Mallozzi as he has a waiter shift at the Outback Steakhouse, starting at 11am.

This is a usual routine for Mallozzi, a student at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law who juggles taking law classes four days a week with waiting tables and his budding NASCAR career.

“The person I served that morning gave me a hard time about everything: the Coca-Cola isn’t sweet enough, the blooming onion is overcooked, the sauce doesn’t taste good and we haven’t even gotten to the appetizers yet,” Mallozzi laughed . “It was crazy to think that just a few hours ago I was driving 120 miles per hour on television at NASCAR’s Martinsville Speedway.”

“I often do ten hours of homework on Sundays to complete the bulk of my weekly preparation,” he added. “There are times when racing comes into play, so my job in the Outback offers great flexibility.”

Stephen Mallozzi begins his second year at Temple’s Law School. (Photography by Ryan S. Brandenberg)

Outback would soon reward its employee’s efforts with a sponsorship after he went viral on social media in April 2023 for sharing a day in the life of a “little driver.” It was the second race sponsorship for the Swedesboro, New Jersey, native, who also received one after being statistically recognized as one of Domino’s top delivery drivers in the country.

According to Mallozzi, car racing is one of the most tiring sports. Drivers must be in peak condition to achieve their peak performance, as they can lose between five and fifteen kilos through sweat during a race.

“You’re wearing a sweaty, fire-resistant suit and sitting behind the wheel of a car in temperatures that can reach 140 degrees while driving around a race track at 200 to 200 miles per hour,” he said. “It’s a mental strain and you sweat off a lot of weight just from the heat of the vehicle.”

Mallozzi not only shows a fierce drive on the track. He also follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a lawyer; he recently earned a full scholarship to Temple’s Beasley School of Law, where he studies the intersection of law and sports in the amateur and professional contexts.

“Temple has one of the best law schools in the area and receiving that scholarship recognition from the university is huge,” said Mallozzi, an aspiring sports agent. “When I was 13 years old I signed my first karting sponsorship deals and at 20 I was working on my first NASCAR contract, so I would like to help others get through that similar system.

“Watching my father through his career as a lawyer inspired me to pursue a similar dream,” he added.

Temple’s Law School recently implemented a student success program throughout three years of the student experience, beginning with student orientation through the bar exam and the first steps as an attorney after law school. The topics of the multistate bar exam are covered in Temple Law School courses. (Photography by Ryan S. Brandenberg)

Although Mallozzi has just started pursuing his law school dream, he has been chasing the dream of becoming a professional racer for as long as he can remember.

At the age of 3, he could name the make of every car he saw. He further fell in love with car racing after playing the video games Mario Kart and NASCAR 2004. He bet his father that he would be good at kart racing in real life too, and with his father’s help, he started racing go-karts competitively . by age 9.

Fast forward to 2016, and 16-year-old Mallozzi was a national champion in kart racing, earning a spot to race for Team USA for the World Kart Finals in Portugal. It was a pivotal moment in Mallozzi’s young racing career, but his priorities would soon change after receiving devastating news.

His father had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Doctors said he had only six months to live, so Mallozzi made the decision to retire from motor racing.

“My dad was my riding coach, mechanic, sponsor and the guy who legally signed me to race at that age,” Mallozzi said. “Hearing the news was a terrible experience and my life fell apart.”

By January 2021, Mallozzi had marked five years without racing, and he was floundering. His involvement in motor racing was reduced to working as a commentator for karting series events.

He missed racing immensely, and the news that the NASCAR series races in Daytona Beach, Florida, were nagging at him for the first time since the pandemic, being so far away from participating in the sport.

His disgruntled attitude carried over to his home as he told his parents he thought his chances at a NASCAR career were numbered. His surviving father, Stephen, became frustrated and gave Mallozzi a pep talk that changed his life.

“My father threw up his arms angrily and stormed out of my room, but then turned around, walked back in, stuck his finger right in my face and said, ‘Son, let me tell you something. “If I had treated my cancer the way you treated racing, I would have been dead five years ago,’ and he walked away,” Mallozzi said.

“The fact that my father had been battling stage 4 lung cancer for five and a half years and his speech stuck with me that you have to get up and try. He inspired me to give my NASCAR dream another try and never give up on any goal I have,” he added.

He also credits his mother, Melissa, for instilling a don’t-give-up attitude that has driven him as he pursued his NASCAR dream.

“My mother has a big boisterous personality that I get from her. I learned a lot from her, while my father couldn’t be there as he worked late into the night as an associate partner at a law firm,” he said. “She taught me that you can be knocked down, but you have to be ready to get back on your feet quickly.”

Mallozzi took the initiative to send hundreds of emails to everyone he knew in the auto racing industry. He made contact with Marc Zumoff, KLN ’92, former play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia 76ers. Zumoff referred him to an internship in Charlotte with Reaume Brothers Racing, a professional stock car team that competes in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

After the internship, Mallozzi realized his NASCAR dream by joining de Reaume, where he made his racing debut in the 2022 O’Reilly Auto Parts 150 at Mid-Ohio, a stock car race of the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“It was my proudest moment; “I went from thinking I would never touch a race car again to sitting on pit road next to a car with my name on it,” he said. “Not only was it surreal that I was competing in a NASCAR race, but it was even better that my dad was alive to see it.”