A great friend, mentor, and what I considered my second father, Fausto Vitello passed away this past Saturday afternoon after suffering a heart-attack while riding his motorcycle. It was unexpected and sudden and it is a loss for me bigger than...
A great friend, mentor, and what I considered my second father, Fausto Vitello passed away this past Saturday afternoon after suffering a heart-attack while riding his motorcycle.
It was unexpected and sudden and it is a loss for me bigger than any I have experienced outside of my own father's 8 years ago. Fausto meant so much to me and I will miss him more than I can describe.
Fausto and I first met nearly 13 years ago when I was just some guy that met him in his office about a go-kart ride. "So you want to race go-karts?" The first thing he said, "You need these gears, this clutch etc." Then he said, "Lets go get that stuff now." Together and we jumped in his Corvette and hauled ass over to his go-kart shop to get me going on what would ultimately be the start of my racing career and our friendship.
Fausto was this type of guy. If he was your friend he would do anything for you-- and he did for me. He was a self-made man and was the type of guy that would always cut through the bullshit and tell you exactly what was on his mind. This insulted a lot of people-- but made me smile and learn. So many times we would be at the track and the next thing I would notice is Fausto telling somebody to get the f@$# out of his pits! This made Fausto stand out. If you didn't want to hear the truth you weren't going to get along with Fausto that was for sure!
I respected Fausto so much that I confided in him with everything from personal advice to business advice and everything in-between. I was able to do this because his character and integrity was stronger than anybody I have ever known-- and I trusted him.
I was also impressed by Fausto as a family man. We talked often about Gwen his wife, Tony his son, and Sally his daughter and the time he spent with them. He was so proud of all of them and made me realize how important family is to a happy life.
I have always said that racing for Fausto and his company Trackmagic Karts was the best experience I ever had in racing. When I was racing go-karts full time, Fausto provided me with anything that I needed to win races. Fausto loved to race and win and he inspired me to work harder than the competition to win races and to push myself as a person. He was the team owner and person that could care less about the racing hype. If staying all night at the track and rebuilding your kart would make you win, he was there with you doing it all night. One of the happiest moments of my life was when I won the 1999 Super Nationals shifter kart championship with Fausto there wrenching on my kart. My next happiest moment was having Fausto at my first Champ Car test in 1999 after everything we had been together with go-karts.
However, it wasn't the go-karts, or racing stuff that made my experience with Fausto great. Fausto, the man, was the reason. And now here I am writing this. There is so much more that I wanted to experience with Fausto and I can't believe he is gone. However, I will always appreciate the 13 years that I had to be around one of the biggest influences of my life. Thanks, Fausto for being a great friend, and everything you have done for me. You will be missed immensely.