Introducing Charles Lewandoski: The Polish Rocket


Photo Credit: Farrah Kaye

By: Farrah Kaye

I was sitting in the media center in Phoenix when I received a tip from a friend about an up-and-coming Nationwide driver nicknamed “The Polish Rocket” who I just had to interview.

The Polish Rocket? I was weary but I coordinated the time and headed into the garage.

What greeted me was a smiling driver standing next to his No. 44 Chevrolet. We spoke at length about his nickname, his Polish heritage, his “ridiculous” love for pizza and why being Eric McClure’s teammate has its perks.

With that, I introduce you to Charles Lewandoski, also known as “The Polish Rocket.”

First things first. Why – or what – is “The Polish Rocket?”

Twenty-five year old Lewandoski (or ChaLew, another name he goes by), says it’s all about his Polish roots and his racing.

“There’s not a lot of Polish guys that race. And Lewandoski is pretty Polish! So I see Keselowski and he hasn’t thought of it yet. So I took it to keep it away from him,” he joked. “This one guy I race with was known as [The Polish Rocket] and he retired so some people call me ‘The New Polish Rocket’ and that’s how it started.”

Lewandoski’s car and helmet both have the Polish flag’s Eagle Crest on it.

“It’s something I’m proud of. There’s not a lot of us, especially in the southeast where I am now. It’s just something different. It’s unique.”

Obviously rooted in his Polish heritage, it was interesting to find out Lewandoski has not been to Poland. However, he knows where to find Polish surroundings in the U.S.

“Chicago has the second biggest Polish community outside of Warsaw [Poland]. I’m going to go out there soon,” Lewandoski said. “I was hoping the Milwaukee Mile was on the schedule because Polish Fest is that weekend and I’ve seen pictures about it so hopefully I’ll get out there this year. Hopefully I’ll run Chicago and that’ll be good [too]. It’s just cool, something different. There’s not a lot of us around here.”

There’s more to Lewandoski than his heritage though. He’s a racer.

In 1993, he began racing quarter midgets in his hometown of Stafford Springs, Connecticut. He raced until the late 90s and switched to Sprint Cars, running on the dirt. Lewandoski dabbled in Legends and Late Models and then headed to the K&N East Series. All of that led him to the Nationwide Series, where he runs the No. 44 for Tri-Star Motorsports.

This weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Lewandoski’s sponsor is Northeast Marine Electronics. It’s his first race of the year and he’s hoping to run more. His teammate, Eric McClure, runs the No. 14 Hefty Blackout / Reynolds Chevrolet.

“Racing is my priority. Being from Connecticut – Stafford Springs – I went to Stafford High School, I raced at Stafford Springs Race Track,” Lewandoski said of his hometown pride and roots. “It’s not like I was a town over. That’s where I’m from. My entire family lives there. It’s a racing community but it’s not like how it is in Indianapolis or Charlottte.”

Being a racer, a majority of the people around him are involved in racing as well.

“I don’t have a lot of friends outside of racing so it’s good to have a lot of friends that have the same interest [as me], grew up the same way, went through the ranks the same way and know when it’s time to talk about racing and know when it’s time for business,“ says Lewandoski. “We have a good time. Danny O’Quinn is a good friend. We get together and bad mouth each other to our faces. I’m on that iRacing thing. Eddie D’Hondt Sr (Kyle Busch’s spotter) and Eddie D’Hondt Jr (who works on Steven Wallace’s car) put a league together, and my little cousin [who] races in CT..There’s a bunch of us in a league.”

Lewandoski says other than racing, he likes to “hang around and take little mini trips on occasion to random places.” Plain and simple, he just likes to have fun.

With all the talk of Connecticut and racing, it begged the question: where does he live?

“I moved [to Charlotte] in 2005. Everything was done in Charlotte,” he said. “When I started running in the K&N (then Busch) East Series, I was in Charlotte two weeks every month. I decided to make the move.”

Here at RubbingsRacing.com, we like to get to know more about drivers, so it was time to have some fun with ChaLew.

Favorite Food:
“I eat a lot of pizza. I mean, ridiculous amounts. I buy pizza probably, I would say, when I go to the grocery store – which I hate doing – I buy probably 10 pizzas at a time. And I get a bit of assortment. I like pizza. I have a little Pizzazz, which not a lot of people know what it is. Aric Almirola impressed me because he came over and he knew what it was … he has one on his motorhome. It’s awesome. It’s so easy! I don’t know how to cook. I don’t do dishes. What’s cool is Eric McClure is my teammate and Hefty is his sponsor and they do trashbags and plastic stuff so I’m set. That’s all I use. It frustrates me to even clean the pizza knife. Pizza is the greatest and even if I go out I’ll still order it.”

Favorite Pizza Topping:
Pepperoni. If I make one, I’ll open the box and just put it in. (I eat out a LOT. I eat out way too much. And all my friends are the same way so they call me, or I call them and we’re all “I wanna eat out” and we’re all ok.)

Favorite Kind of Music:
I like a little bit of everything.

Last Concert:
I don’t go to a lot of concerts. I have that Pandora and I have a station set to one that plays bands like Everclear. I like that 90s stuff. Then for more rap/R&B, I like the 2000s/06/07. I’m a real big fan of Ludacris. And I like some country. I like it all.

Three words that describe you:
Competitive. Fun. Good-looking?

If you weren’t racing what would you be doing?
My family is involved in construction. If I was smart I would be doing construction. I’d be doing excavation.

What’s in your fridge?
A lot of pizza, chicken stuff (nuggets, tenders), frozen french fries and some waffles.

In his first start of 2011 at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend, Lewandoski finished 21st. His hopes are to run as many races as possible. He heads to Vegas unsure if he’ll run or not.

Learn more about The Polish Rocket by visiting his webpage, Twitter or Facebook page.

Thanks to Charles Lewandoski for taking the time to speaking with RubbingsRacing.com.

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1 Comment


    April 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm


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