IPS: Indianapolis: RLR/Andersen - Scarallo spotlight

Scarallo Used to be That Kid in the Grandstands INDIANAPOLIS, May 24 - Indy Pro Series driver Joey Scarallo knows all about that little guy (or girl) wearing a racing T-shirt and reverently inhaling all the sights and sounds of the Indianapolis...

Scarallo Used to be That Kid in the Grandstands

INDIANAPOLIS, May 24 - Indy Pro Series driver Joey Scarallo knows all about that little guy (or girl) wearing a racing T-shirt and reverently inhaling all the sights and sounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend.

Seventeen years ago he was that kid in the grandstands.

After tomorrow's Freedom 100 he'll have gone from that kid anxiously waiting to see his favorite driver in person to one of the men and women who have actually competed at the Brickyard.

Scarallo drives one of two Indy Pro Series cars fielded by RLR/Andersen Racing. His red and yellow car is sponsored by GroupAWheels.com and carries the No. 15. He is part of the only contingent from the New York metropolitan area racing here this weekend. Scarallo was born in Adelaide, Australia but he was raised on Long Island and calls Smithtown, N.Y. home. His teammate, Andrew Prendeville in the Best Friends Animal Society No. 5, lives in Morristown, N.J., while Andersen Racing is based in Fairfield, N.J.

Although they're not from the Midwest, the team members have the hearts of Hoosiers. They know the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is unlike any other racetrack in the world, or as one driver once put it so well, "a sanctuary of speed."

Scarallo has known that since he was a child.

"I have tapes of the Indy 500 dating back from the early eighties. I used to come home from school and just watch those tapes, and I just got to be a big Emerson Fittipaldi fan," he said.

"I was so happy when Emmo won the 500 in 1989," continued Scarallo, who is returning to open-wheel racing after several years successfully competing in the Trans-Am series.

"Then in 1990 I got to go to the Indy 500 for the first time," he elaborated. "I was 10. My father's company was the biggest distributor of Fittipaldi wheels, so we went as a guest of Roger Penske," he recalled. "We sat on the frontstretch going into Turn 1. Emmo sat on the pole, but he blistered his tires and Arie Luyendyk ended up winning the race.

"Right around then I decided that racing is what I wanted to do with my life," he said.

Later that year Scarallo even got to meet Fittipaldi. "He was at Moroso [Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Fla.] giving people hot laps in a pace car," Scarallo remembered. "We all went to lunch, and I got to sit beside Emmo. It was cool."

When Scarallo was 13 his life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. While he was bedridden and waiting for surgery, another one of his favorite drivers, NASCAR star Darrell Waltrip, called him to wish him good luck.

The call from Waltrip meant a great deal to the whole family, but especially to Scarallo. He had a full recovery, and he still talks to Waltrip on the phone occasionally to this day.

They were even involved in the same event once, when Trans-Am appeared with NASCAR at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., in 2003. Scarallo was driving, while Waltrip was a TV commentator that weekend.

Scarallo is one of 11 different drivers in Andersen Racing's stable. The team competes in three different series (Hankook Tires F2000 Championship, Star Mazda presented by Goodyear and the Indy Pro Series) in order to provide up-and-coming drivers the best training they can receive. Fans can keep up with Scarallo and all his teammates through the team's Web site at andersenracingteam.com.

-credit: restart communications

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Arie Luyendyk , Emerson Fittipaldi , Roger Penske