Chris Casto: Bridgeport's Resident 'Car Guy'Feb 21, 2019
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers skated in their 55th game of the season on Sunday afternoon at Webster Bank Arena. At the same time in the sports world, nearly 1,100 miles south, burning rubber met asphalt at high speeds in the 61st Daytona 500.
But for Sound Tigers defenseman and resident “car guy” Chris Casto, missing the Great American Race was no issue whatsoever.
“I'm more into Formula One-style road racing,” Casto laughed.
Like many young boys, Casto's hobby was taken after his father, Mike, who used to work on his own muscle cars and participate in drag racing tournaments at Minnesota drag strips in the 1970s.
“By the time I was born, he faded away from that, but his passion for cars kind of transferred to me,” Casto said. “We would watch car shows when we were younger, and I'd obviously have toy cars, so by the time I got my license and worked to buy my own car, that passion came back to me.”
On the ice, an 18-year-old Casto captained the Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, Minnesota, and committed to the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2010. But away from the rink, Casto's invested time into his first car, a souped up Dodge Charger.
Although the complete list of avant-garde alterations are to too extensive to go into detail, the major changes he made note of included adding lamborghini doors and drag wheels for tires.
“It would take me forever if I told you everything I did to that one,” Casto said. “I turned that car into an absolute Frankenstein and basically changed everything about it, even though it probably made it worse.”
Now 27, Casto has come a long way from haphazardly modifying his car as a teenager.
While playing hockey rightfully consumes the majority of his minutes during the season, most of Casto's car-fixing reps come when he goes back home in the offseason. Despite many of his Sound Tigers teammates preferring to spend their summers golfing or fishing, Casto chooses to work on cars with his dad in their garage at home.
The hobby carries into the season, but not nearly at full force.
In Bridgeport, teammate and housemate Kieffer Bellows notices Casto using some of his spare time away from the rink to make modifications to his current car, a modified manual Audi S4.
“Yeah, his car gets loud and my pickup stays pretty quiet,” Bellows joked. “He is very particular about his car, drives a stick shift – which I don't know how to do – and gets car washes all the time. His car is his baby.”
Outwardly, the similarities between hockey and racing are more than one would expect at first glance. Casto, who is now in his sixth professional season, knows what it takes to play hockey at high speeds, but was able experience the faster life on the race track firsthand as well.
Casto had an opportunity to drive a Ferrari Challenge GT 3 car on the Homestead–Miami Speedway in 2016. Although he wasn't racing anyone competitively, taking hot laps on a major course helped him possess a deeper appreciation for the high-speed sport.
“You get the same kind of adrenaline-type feeling,” Casto added. “A lot of hockey is centered on speed and what you can do at that speed. It's kind of the same thing in a car. You have to trust your speed and you're on the edge of being in danger a lot.”
“But similar to hockey, you skate at full speed and have to turn, but you also have to trust your edges and equipment.”
For now, the only high speeds Casto will continue to engage in are the ones on the ice, and will stick to working on his car at local shops instead of racing one.
However, when his hockey career reaches the checkered flag, a long way down the road, Casto could see himself becoming more invested in some realm of the car business. Deep down, he still wishes he could be behind the wheel too.
“If I can find a good business within the car world, I would love to do that,” Casto said. “I missed out on a lot of ways to become a race car driver when I was young, so it's kind of a long shot now. But Patrick Dempsey bought himself into a racing series, so maybe one day.”