Vinnie’s trip to California and the Summit Racing E/T finals wasn’t his first, despite his youth and inexperience. “We went there last year with my brother, Frankie, and it was just not a good experience,” he said. “The rain, the ever-changing schedule, running on Monday and watching Frankie lose in round one just wasn’t what we were hoping for.” After that Vinnie, his brother and mom and dad all wondered if and when they would ever get another shot at the championship. Well, it didn’t take them long. Trailing in the points at his home track, Island Dragway in New Jersey, Vinnie needed to go to the money round in each of the last four weeks of the season just to earn at shot at the D-1 bracket finals and he managed to do just that. “I actually raced Frankie in one of the finals and he beat me,” said Vinnie. Well, at least they kept it all in the family. At Cecil County, home of the bracket finals, Vinnie got a couple of lucky breaks in the early rounds and as the day progressed he kept asking himself, “Can this be happening?” It was, and after a win in round five, a bye run in the semis and a final round win over Bob Larrison, another Island Dragway regular, Vinnie began to pack his bags for California. Oh, there was that one little detail to be worked out, they didn’t know how to get the car out west. “For a while it looked like I was going to have to borrow a car out there, but at the last minute we got some help from one of our close friends, Glenn Winzer.” Glenn, one of the regulars on the Division 1 scene, has been a friend of the Cicerale family for years and he’s the guy who towed the car out west last year for Frankie. “My dad had to go visit Glenn and he mentioned that because of his schedule we didn’t have a way to get the car out west and that’s when Glenn offered to drive again.” Winzer and Scott Gardner, another family friend, both offered to load the ’83 Chevy on their truck and make the drive west and it turned out to be a great move for everyone. “In addition to everyone in my family, I have to thank Glenn and Scott because they thought I had a real chance if I drove my own car. It’s nice when you have friends like that.”
Vinnie is very quick to thank a lot of people for his win. “First of all I have to thank God for giving me the talent and ability to do this. All my family and friends deserve my thanks because I simply couldn’t do it without them. My dad, for getting us into this sport that we love, and my mom for her love and support and for picking up the pieces when we let down. Frankie really helped me learn to drive and to win and I can’t say enough about Glenn and Scott and what they did for us and mean to us, both in our racing endeavors and as friends. The Landolfi, DiMino and Biondo families, Jim and Lynda Jack, the Racer’s For Christ chaplains in Arizona and Dan and Clair Luterza, the chaplains in D-1 were very helpful. And I’d like to say a special word of thanks to our Island Dragway track manager, Tony DeMarcky, who flew out just to watch us along with John, the starter at our track. Summit was great, too, it was just a nice experience.” There’s that word again, experience, and we’ve heard that a lot from a young man who is just about to turn 19. Maybe that Jr. dragster program really works.
Vinnie also wanted to thank his best friend, Mike, who “is like another brother to me. He helped me win the track championship at Englishtown in my Jr. car last year.” Also, special thanks to his girl friend, Heather. “She was there for me and she was the first one I called after each round. I dug through my pants for my cell phone and called her as I was turning off the track to let her know that I’d won.” He also wanted to dedicate the win to his grandmother who passed away earlier this month and his late Uncle Ed. He would also like to thank his Aunt Norma who has supported him and his brother in all of their racing efforts.
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