CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Several weeks ago, Joey Scarallo didn't even know he'd be racing this year. Fast forward to April 10. Scarallo was in Long Beach, ready to compete in Round 2 of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup.
Scarallo, who currently sits third in the Trans-Am Series rookie standings behind leader Jorge Diaz, Jr., and Bobby Sak, suffered a host of mechanical woes at Long Beach. He was only able to record one qualifying lap before his car encountered a transmission failure, and recovered from fuel pickup problems to finish a solid 10th in the race after starting last on the grid. Scarallo's previous best Trans-Am Series finish--14th--came last year at Lime Rock.
"Long Beach was a last-minute deal," said the driver of the No. 06 ROH Wheels Chevrolet Corvette. "I put that together four weeks before the race. Prior to that, the car was sitting with a blanket on top of it.
"We had a bunch of volunteers who came out to help," added Scarallo, who made two Trans-Am Series starts in 2001 and three starts last year. "I hadn't been in the car since Lime Rock of last year. We didn't even get a chance to test. Except for the problems in qualifying, which was a ripple effect from last year, the car did well."
Scarallo, who comes into Round 3 at Mosport International Raceway 21 points behind Sak in the rookie standings, has also competed in Formula 2000, Formula Atlantic and Indy Lights type cars during his career. Although he admits he enjoys open-wheel racing, Scarallo said he plans to compete in the Trans-Am Series long term.
"I had wanted to race in the Trans-Am Series for years--since I was 16 or 17 years old. I remember watching Tommy Kendall and Paul Gentilozzi going at it," said Scarallo. "I moved over to the Trans-Am Series because of its past. Look at guys like Scott Sharp, who later on in his career was able to go on to open wheel. You have guys like Boris Said, who can go over to the Winston Cup side whenever he wants.
"I felt it would be a good series to do as far as the cars go," he added. "It's also easier to get sponsorship in the Trans-Am Series. The regular person can related to a Trans-Am Series car. They look at my car and they say: 'Oh, that's a Corvette. I have a Corvette,' and they can relate to that. I think that helps in getting sponsorship.
Interestingly, Scarallo was born in Australia and still holds duel citizenship. Although he moved to America when he was three, Scarallo looks forward to the day he can return to Australia to compete in that country's counterpart to the Trans-Am Series: Australian V8 Supercars.
"I've been dying to go to Australia and compete in the Australian Touring Cars," said Scarallo. "I would love to go back and race those cars."
However, for now, Scarallo will stay in New York, helping to run his family's business--ROH Wheels--which imports wheels and sells tires. Scarallo also owns a retail wheel-and-tire business.
"I take all of the money I earn in the store and put it toward racing," said Scarallo. "I live at home and I don't take a salary. Whatever money we make in the wholesale department, we put toward racing."
Even though he missed Round 1 in St. Petersburg, Scarallo's goals remain lofty. He said he hopes to win the rookie title this season.
"This year, we couldn't try any harder to make things difficult on ourselves after missing the first race, and running an underpowered SB-1 motor," said Scarallo. "Our goal this year is win the Rookie of the Year Championship. If we can get a podium or two along the way, that would be excellent. We want to be a consistent top-five car."
Round 3 of this year's Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup championship is scheduled for Sunday, May 18 at Mosport International Raceway. SPEED Channel will carry the race on a tape-delayed basis Sunday, May 25 at 2 p.m.
-scca pro racing/trans am-