Posted June 5, 2024

Balancing act: NASCAR driver jockeys dream career while attending Temple Law School

Stephen Mallozzi is a NASCAR driver on pace to graduate from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in 2026. 

Image of a NASCAR driver inside Temple University’s Law School.
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
Stephen Mallozzi, a native of Swedesboro, New Jersey, made his NASCAR 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. He plans to graduate from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in 2026.

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

He unpacks his things and settles into bed shortly before 4 a.m. Morning will come early for Mallozzi as he has a waiter shift at the Outback Steakhouse, beginning at 11 a.m. 

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

“The person I served that morning was giving me a hard time about everything from the Coca-Cola is not sweet enough, the bloomin’ onion is too cooked, the sauce doesn’t taste right and we were not even at the entrees yet,” laughed Mallozzi. “It was crazy to think that only a few hours ago, I was on television driving 120 miles an hour on NASCAR’s Martinsville Speedway.” 

“Often I do ten hours of homework on Sunday to complete most of my weekly preparation,” he added. “There are times when racing budged its way in, so my Outback job allows great flexibility.” 

Stephen Mallozzi will begin his second year at Temple’s Beasley School of Law. (Photography by Ryan S. Brandenberg)  

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

According to Mallozzi, auto racing is one of the most exhausting sports. Drivers must be in top physical condition to reach their peak performance as they can lose between five to 15 pounds in sweat during any given race.  

“You are wearing a sweaty, fire-resistant suit, sitting behind the wheel of a car with temperatures that can clock up to 140 degrees as you wheel around a racetrack at 180–200 miles an hour,” he said. “It’s mental strain, and you sweat away a lot of weight just from how hot the vehicle can get.”   

Mallozzi does not only show a fierce drive on the racetrack. He is also following in his father’s footsteps to become a lawyer—he recently earned a full scholarship to Temple’s Beasley School of Law, where he is studying the intersection of law and sport in the amateur and professional context.  

“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. “At 13 years old I signed my first karting sponsorship deals and at 20 years old I worked through my first NASCAR contract, so I’d love to help others coming through that similar system. 

“Watching my dad on his law career path inspired me to chase a similar dream,” he added.  

Temple’s Law School recently implemented a student success program across three years of the student experience, starting with student Orientation through the bar exam and the first steps as a lawyer out of law school. The topics on the multistate bar exam are covered in Temple Law School courses. (Photography by Ryan S. Brandenberg) 

While Mallozzi has just started to chase his law school dream, he has been chasing the dream of being a professional racer for as long as he can remember. 

By age 3, he could name the brand of each car that he saw. He further fell in love with auto racing after playing the video games, Mario Kart and NASCAR 2004. He bet his father he would also be good at kart racing in real life, and with his father’s assistance, he started to race go-karts competitively by the age of 9.  

Fast forward to 2016, and the 16-year-old Mallozzi was a national champion in kart racing, earning a spot to race for Team USA for the world karting final in Portugal. It was a pivotal moment in Mallozzi’s young racing career, but his priorities would soon shift gears after he received some devastating news. 

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

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

In January 2021, it had been five years without automobile racing for Mallozzi, and he was floundering. His involvement in auto racing was reduced to working as a commentator for karting series events.  

He deeply missed racing, and the news that NASCAR series races in Daytona Beach, Florida, were returning for the first time since the pandemic gnawed at him, since he was so far removed from competing in the sport.  

His disgruntled demeanor carried over to home as he expressed to his parents that he thought his chances at a NASCAR career were numbered. His father, Stephen, who was still alive and well, grew frustrated and gave Mallozzi a pep talk that changed his life.  

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

“The fact my dad had been fighting Stage 4 lung cancer for five and a half years and his talk just stuck with me that you need to get up and try. He inspired me to give it another shot at my NASCAR dream and to never give up on any goal I may have,” he added. 

He also credits his mother, Melissa, for instilling a no-quit attitude that has driven him while he pursued his NASCAR dream.  

“My mom has this big boisterous personality that I get from her. I learned a lot from her while my dad could not be around when he was working late hours as an associate partner at a law firm,” he said. “She taught me you can get knocked down but 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 connected 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 achieved his NASCAR dream, becoming a member of the 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. “It was not only surreal that I was in a NASCAR race, but it was even better that my dad was alive to see it.”