Through The Esses - Joey Scarallo - An Australian Long Islander Racing In SPEED
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Photos Courtesy Mark Weber - SCCA
© Andrew S. Hartwell

In 1978, racer Joey Scarallo was born in the city of Adelaide; on the big 'island' that is Australia. When he was just under three years of age his parents pulled up roots and relocated to America, settling in on Long Island, a somewhat narrow strip of land that measures just 20 miles across at its widest point, and that juts out 118 miles eastward from New York City. Australia is said to be home to 21 million people. Long Island is home to almost 3 million. Australia is certainly the bigger of the two islands, but it is on Long Island that Scarallo came to grow his bigger ambitions.

In time the Scarallo's came to open a new family business on Long Island, selling performance wheels and tires to a good number of those 3 million people. Subsequently, young Joey was brought up in an environment filled with people who had an interest in automobiles. Before long he developed a strong personal interest in cars that led him to racing in karts. This was at a time not far from when two other Long Island citizens - and future racing stars - Guy Cosmo and Andy Lally would also begin to hone their driving talents in karts. A time when a then 11 year old Scarallo would come to meet someone who would inadvertently spark his passion to become a professional racing driver.

Scarallo told us of his beginnings, including an incredible, but thankfully brief, bout with a serious physical condition just as he was taking the first steps of his journey. His faith in a higher power paved the way to a full recovery and Scarallo has been on a fast track ever since.

And one day, he wouldn't mind returning to Australia for at least one fast time.

I began racing karts when I was 11. We raced out at Westhampton (a track located on the eastern end of the island, not far from the fabled Bridgehampton Race Circuit) and with EKRA (Eastern Kart Racing Association) at Jones Beach. My dad and I used to go together. When I first started it never really clicked in my head that I would make racing my life. I just went karting because I wanted to drive a car but I was too young.

I grew up being involved with my dad's business (Autotrend Tire & Wheel Company Inc located in the town of Lindenhurst, on the south shore of Long Island) and I always wanted to drive a car. My dad wouldn't get me a quad because he figured I'd flip it over. He got me the kart just so I would have something to muck around in.

While I was just 11 years old I had the chance to meet Emerson Fittipaldi. At the time my dad owned several stores and one of the wheel manufacturers used Emerson's name to promote their wheels. My dad's business was the number one distributor for the brand, with the Tire Rack being second. In 1989 they brought their top five distributors down to Moroso Park (in Jupiter, Florida) to meet Emerson. This was just after he had won Indy.

Emerson was taking people out for hot laps in a Pontiac Trans-Am - the one with the V6 and the turbo. My dad and I went out with him on the track, and then I got to sit next to him when we all had lunch. It was a real cool deal, and I was the only kid there! That experience was the spark that got me thinking about racing for real.

I had been a fan of racing for several years, following everything from Indy Cars to Winston Cup to drag racing - I would watch it all. Meeting Emerson really got me thinking about being a driver. I decided to go to the Jim Hall School for karting in Ventura, California when I was 12.

At Jim Hall they would have a race after a few days of learning. Up until then I was using a 4-cycle kart. The karts they ran were pretty fast and I had never driven a kart as fast before. My size and weight with all that speed made driving them a real buzz. I learned a lot at that school, and I started winning in karts the very next season. In fact, we had a real shot at winning the championship that year but I broke my arm at Westhampton.

When I turn