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Devin O’Connell Invited to Speak at Connecticut Special Education Event

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SPECIAL EDUCATION DAY AT THE STATE CAPITAL– celebrates the achievements of special education students. Opening remarks by Senator Ted Kennedy Jr., also ACT Rookie of the Year racecar driver Devin O’Connell announces “Champion Challenge” competition, plus Unified arts and sports for all to enjoy!

MADISON, CT –March 2, 2017 — On May 2nd 10am to noon ,the Connecticut Special Education PTO (SEPTO) Alliance is hosting Special Education Day at the State Capital in Hartford, CT; a celebration of the achievements and contributions of Connecticut’s special education students. “Our students who have benefited from special education make a major contribution to our economy and to our richness as a society.” says featured speaker, Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. “This day is an opportunity to recognize the many achievements of exceptional Connecticut students and highlight the importance of special education programs in our schools.”

Students from around the State will speak about their success and their struggles. Guests in attendance will be treated to a sampling of the breadth of Unified activities taking place in schools across Connecticut including; Unified arts, sports and robotics.

“This year in particular,” says SEPTO Alliance President, Kevin Daly, “We want to highlight the contribution Special Education programs bring to all aspects of a school’s curriculum.”    Research shows time and again,” continues Daly, “inclusive schools that address the needs of all students result in significant improved performance for students with or without disabilities”.

Also speaking will be ACT Rookie of the Year racecar driver Devin O’Connell. O’Connell is a 2016 graduate of Daniel Hand High School in Madison, where he received special instruction as a student with autism. “I felt different in school and sometimes it was really hard,” says O’Connell “but I’ve learned to use autism as an advantage.” O’Connell wants to inspire other special education students and will announce his “Champions Challenge”, in which special education students are asked to send in personal stories of overcoming challenges. The winners will be invited to be a” pit crew member for the day” on O’Connell’s racing team.

Special Education Day at the State Capitol will be held on May 2nd, 10am to noon, in the Old Judiciary Room on the 3rd Floor of the Connecticut State Capitol, 210 Capitol Avenue, in Hartford . Please let us know you are coming with an email RSVP to event coordinator Lisa Nee Lisa@allennee.com

Special Education Day at the State Capital ,is sponsored by the Connecticut Special Education PTO Alliance, which is a statewide council of Special Education PTO groups in Connecticut communities. For more information about the Connecticut SEPTO Alliance, contact Kevin Daly at kevin@septoalliance.org

O’Connell Going Hands On in Transition to Super Late Models

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March 10, 2017

After two years of tearing up the Legends Cars circuit in both the North and South, Devin O’Connell took the opportunity in 2016 to make a big step up, competing full-time on the American-Canadian Tour circuit.  Later in the year, he also made his Late Model Stock Car debut to cap off a memorable year. Now, the 19-year-old Connecticut driver is set to take another big step into one the top levels in short track racing: Super Late Models.

While a lot of young drivers nowadays seek out rides in the Super Late Model and Pro Stock ranks, O’Connell is taking the old-fashioned approach, running his own set of wheels out of his new shop on the Connecticut shore.  The former Legends Cars standout will run a New England based schedule, with family and friends coming onboard to fill out his team.

“We’re running our own team this year, it’s a little cheaper to run it by ourselves. It’s going to be me and a bunch of buds,” O’Connell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.  “We’ve bought a really good car from Dearborn Racing up in Maine, an old Hamke car that’s absolutely mint.”

In 2016, O’Connell sat behind the wheel of the Hallstrom Motorsports No. 1 ACT Late Model, but he’s accustomed to maintaining his own cars in both Allison Legacy and Legends Cars from previous years.  While maintaining his own cars,he scored multiple champions, including track, state, national, and world titles in Legend Cars in 2015.

O’Connell is embracing the chance to be more hands on to learn about intricacies of the Super Late Model.

“We’re trying to get started, I want to learn how to set up bump-stops and all that. Learn how the suspension works with the Supers versus everything else. It’s about learning how they work, I’m happy I get to my hands dirty again.”

O’Connell has his eyes set on the rookie title in the Granite State Pro Stock Series with occasional appearances planned in PASS North, including one of the biggest short track events of them all.

“The plan is to run the Granite State Pro Stocks full-time with an occasional PASS show, the Oxford 250 and the Pro Stock Nationals at Seekonk. If we can get some sponsors I would love to hit up as many of the big shows around the country as I can,” he stated.  “I’m willing to drive anything with four wheels and a motor, we get what we need, we’ll try to expand, get outside the Northeast and see what goes down.”

O’Connell has shown promise in his first year of Late Models, most recently making the field for the Battle at the Beach last November at Myrtle Beach Speedway during his debut in a Late Model Stock Car. He also picked up Rookie of the Year honors with the American-Canadian Tour.

“We started to show our strength near the end of the year at Hallstrom Motorsports,” he commented. “They gave me such a great opportunity last year and I’m so thankful for it. This year with how the circumstances have gone we figured getting our own car was a little bit better deal. If we get some sponsorship and I can do a couple of races with Hallstrom, I’d love to go up for a couple shows, maybe do the Milk Bowl and some of the big Thunder Road races. It all depends on money.”

Currently the plan for O’Connell is to debut his new ride at the GSPSS season opener at Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire on April 30. O’Connell has hinted that this might come sooner if the team gets its ducks in a row and they can get the car ready to race, with the team dropping the engine in the car over the past week. Whenever that first outing comes, it will not be soon enough for the eager young gun.

“I’m excited, I’ve been wanting to run a Super Late Model since I was 13. Finally being able to say I’ve raced one is neat. I’m stoked, I can’t wait.”

-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT

Rookie Spotlight Presented By TraqGear: Devin O’Connell Preparing for New Challenge as Late Model Owner/Driver

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Connecticut driver will share his on-track experience through a partnership with TVU Networks

By Richard Slifkin – on Twitter at @MotorsportsPR

2016 American-Canadian Tour Rookie of the Year Devin O’Connell at the ACT Tour Banquet of Champions. Credit: ACT Tour

Madison, Connecticut driver Devin O’Connell closed out his 2016 racing season by capturing American Canadian Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year honors. Now, as the start of his 2017 season draws near, the 19-year-old is preparing to bring his family run team to the Granite State Pro Stock Series (GSPSS). This off-season has been a busy one, as O’Connell moved into a new race shop and is currently building his own car. Last year, he raced for Vermont-based Hallstrom Motorsports in a driver development program.

“It’s actually my first year being both owner and driver, so that will be cool to bring my family run team up to the super late model ranks and see how we run,“ O’Connell stated. “In addition to the full GSPSS schedule we have about five Pro All Star Series (PASS) races on our schedule we’re going to try and run, including the Oxford 250 and maybe the Mason Dixon Mega Meltdown at Hickory.”

O’Connell will look to continue the momentum he closed out the 2016 season with, as he earned five straight top fifteen finishes, including back-to-back top tens in the final two races of the year, to clinch his Rookie title. His 2017 season is scheduled to start with the PASS race at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT), where he won his heat race then recorded a solid eighth-place, lead-lap finish last October.

Devin O’Connell after an Allison Legacy Race Series event in May 2014 at Florence Motor Speedway (SC). Credit: Richard Slifkin

Racing since the age of nine, O’Connell earned over 30 wins and two championships in kart racing. He then raced in the Allison Legacy Race Series for a few years, highlighted by winning the championship in 2014 after collecting 10 wins in 16 races. He also raced Legend Cars in 2014, winning 12 of 35 Semi Pro division starts and recording a total of 28 top 5 finishes. He continued his winning ways in Legends competition in 2015, racing to 42 wins in 92 events en route to World, National, State, Touring and Track championships.

Devin recently finalized a new partnership, which will allow him to share his experiences in the driver’s seat this year with fans worldwide via live Facebook video. “I will be partnering with TVU Networks for the 2017 season, and will have a TVU Network box in my car that will allow me to live stream the races on Facebook from the cockpit of my car,” O’Connell explained. “This will be a first in short track racing, and I am excited to be working with TVU Networks.”

The 11-race GSPSS season kicks off at Lee USA Speedway on April 30. One of the events Devin is most looking forward to this year comes on July 1 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which will be his first time racing on the one-mile oval. Throughout the season, his goal will remain the same: “My goal is to try and run up front every week, figure the setup out as quick as I can, and try run for top five in points.”

Fans can keep up with Devin O’Connell on his website at www.devinoconnellracing.com, and on social media at @devinoconnellracing (Facebook) and @_devinoconnell (Twitter and Instagram).

O’Connell Seeking Partners for 2017 Champion Challenge

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Devin has lived the life of many youth who struggle to find their place in the world. Diagnosed at the age of nine with Asperger Syndrome, a form of high functioning Autism, Devin struggled socially, had difficulty making friends, and encountered bullying at a young age. Fortunately, Devin followed his passion of becoming a race car driver. He began racing go-karts at the age of nine. The environment at the track proved to be a great place for Devin to  socialize with other kids who also loved to talk exclusively about racing and cars. Devin wants to use what he has learned to inspire and give hope to others. He has used his gift of public speaking to talk to schools and other groups about having Asperger Syndrome and how he has managed to turn his disability into a different type of ability.

Champion Challenge

  • Speak to groups and schools on the topic of exceptionalities. Looking to motivate, inspire, and give hope
    • Find your purpose, your passion
      • What do you love to do
      • Find your people
      • Learn social skills in a comfortable environment
    • Inclusion
      • Everyone has something to offer
      • Buddy System
    • Respect
      • Respect earns respect
      • Treat others like you want to be treated
      • Anti-Bullying
    • Leadership
    • Mentorship
  • Have participants submit their story of overcoming personal challenge or how they made a difference in another person’s life
  • Corporate partner swag for attendees
    • Additional swag for inspirational stories submitted
    • GRAND PRIZE for the winning story to include Honorary Crew Member at a race all expenses paid

Link: Key Note Speech on Exceptionalities Day at Polson Middle School, Madison, CT

 

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O’Connell Earns ACT Tour Rookie-of-the-Year

Thompson, CT – Devin O’Connell clamed the 2016 American Canadian Tour rookie-of-the-year honors following his 8th place finish at the Thompson Speedway Sunoco World Series on Saturday, October 15th. Heading into the final ACT Tour race of the season, O’Connell trailed rookie leader Ryan Olsen by 2 points. The rookie duo swapped the lead several times throughout the 13-race ACT Tour season.

The World Series was the first time O’Connell and his Hallstrom Motorsports team visited the 5/8-mile track. Concerned about hitting the correct setup, the team was able to dial in the car during the early afternoon 1-hour test session. O’Connell started his respective heat races in 6th place and drove his number 1 late model to the front, claiming his first heat race win of the 2016 season.

After the heat race O’Connell reported, “The car was fantastic! I could put it anywhere on the track and it would stick.”

The qualifying efforts landed O’Connell a 4th place start among the 31 car entries for the 75-lap feature event. O’Connell drove a clean and steady race, battling New England’s best late model drivers. At the conclusion of the race, Devin finished 8th overall and first among the rookie contenders. The result was a two point lead in the rookie points earning Devin ACT Tour rookie of the year honors.

During the post race interview with HCTV-20 Devin stated, “It’s just unbelievable. With a team that’s new to the tour and with myself being brand new to late models this year, after graduating from Legend Cars, to be able to come out here and win rookie of the year in one of the most prestigious late model tours in North America…I’m stoked right now and I can’t believe we were able to pull it off.”

O’Connell Finishes 17th in First Milk Bowl Appearance

Barre, VT  – Devin O’Connell, a rookie driver in the American Canadian Tour, had a respectable 17th place finish at his first Milk Bowl at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, VT, on Sunday, October 2nd.   O’Connell made his presence known on Saturday at the 54th annual Milk Bowl by laying down some fast lap times in practice.  His Chatham Highlander, TruEnergy Toyota was consistently in the top five on the speed charts.  O’Connell was the first car to hit the track for time trials on Saturday after the drizzle stopped and the track was dry. He set a quick time of 13.283 that could only be bettered by 4 other drivers.  The top two fastest times earned the front row starting positions for the race on Sunday. O’Connell concluded the time trial segment 5th of 38 cars.

Following the time trails, the drivers were separated into two heat races.  The top 8 from each race would automatically transfer into the feature race on Sunday, completing the top 18 starting positions.   O’Connell’s time trail earned him a 3rd place start in the first heat race where he was running 4th on lap 24 before his car has hit in the left rear causing him to spin. With no damage to the car, he rebounded with a 12th place finish. O’Connell did not earn a transfer into the feature through the heat races, but positions 19-27 were set by refering back to the time trail efforts. Since Devin had the fastest time trail, he would start 19th in Sunday’s Milk Bowl.

The feature race on Sunday is a bit unconventional to say the least. The Milk Bowl consists of three 50-lap segment races. The combined effort of all three segments determines the overall winner of the event. O’Connell started 19th of 30 for the first segment. He worked his way up to 15th on lap 39 before dropping back to 19th for the finish of the first segment.

For the second segment, the top 24 cars were inverted putting O’Connell in the 6th starting spot. Devin stated that “The car was handling great and I could put it anywhere on the track.”

This proved to be true as Devin worked his way up to 3rd. On lap 25, however, while making a pass on the outside for 2nd place, he brushed the famed “Window Maker” front stretch wall. The combination of lost momentum and getting hung up on the outside caused him to fall back and settle for a 7th place finish in segment 2.

For the final and third segment of the day, the top 24 cars where inverted once again putting O’Connell in the 18th starting position. He worked his way up to 14th, but on lap 30, while making the pass for 13th, he made contact with Joey Pole who returned the favor by hitting O’Connell in the right rear sending him for a spin on the backstretch. Starting in the rear of the 30-car field, O’Connell fought back over the last 20 laps to finish segment three in 19th place.

O’Connell’s combined efforts in all three segments, placed him in 17th overall for the 2016 Milk Bowl. O’Connell stated “ It was not the top 10 finish we were hoping for, but it was a great weekend of racing and I gained a lot more experience. Thanks to my family, The Chatham Highlander Motel, TruEnergy, Hallstrom Motorsports, and my crew.”