From his start in Tuesday Night Kart Racing to recent participation in our Ballhockey.com Enduros accelerated by Niagara College the 22 year old Welland resident – it has always been about building memories while building cars.
“I raced a few times last season but that 4 Cylinder had some mechanical issues,” said Vincent Pagnotta who has winter’s work on display in front of the Cogeco Store until March 20th, “we built this car from the ground up.”
On Pagnotta’s 1988 Mustang, shoppers will see a tribute to L. St. Amand Enterprises Wall of Famer Dave Halliwell who began his extended family’s involvement in the sport in our early years. You will also see an Enduro Drivers of Niagara logo where his big track racing experience began.
“My friend Nick was entered in an Enduro and thought I should get back into racing as well,” said Pagnotta who competed in three of the season ending 100 lap events, “it was Nick and another frined Mike who actually got me my first car ... I finished in the top 10 the first time out.”
Last season after the few starts with the 4 Cylinder – his start in the 100 led to a second place finish after completing the entire distance.
Before his Saturday Night Racing began Pagnotta raced his Kart Tuesday Nights for 5 seasons – from 2005 to 2009.
“Karts started when my Dad came home from a Merrittville Flea Market with a Kart,” added Pagnotta, “right from the start ... racing was something our family enjoyed during the summer months and the off season as well getting ready.”
When it came time to celebrate his Uncle Rick’s Birthday several years ago which falls during the off season – Pagnotta, family and friends returned to Kart Racing. Today – an annual visit to Hamilton Go-Karts continues to grow each year.
One family that they befriended when he first started racing karts was the Braun Family – Travis and his wife Alicia.
Alicia and her brother BJ Willard grew up in the sport as the fourth generation of one of Merrittville’s first families – brother and sister both got their starts in Kart Racing. Alicia made a brief and successful return including a championship and a friendship with the Pagnottas.
That relationship lead to Vincent joining Travis’ crew when the former racer competed in what is now the Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Division.
“Even though we became friends and enjoyed some great racing ... it was actually a Racers Classified posting that led to my joining the team,” revealed Pagnotta of his 5 year stint with the 76, “they were looking for help and my uncle Rick pushed me to follow up.”
Vincent lived many experiences with the team making memories for himself including getting to drive the race car to events like autograph nights and in and out of the trailer along with sharing in the team’s success Saturday Nights and on the road.
One such memory includes Super DIRT Week at the former New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse NY. Braun’s fate at the Moody Mile came to a disappointing end to his race just as Vincent and the team were readying for their pit stop.
When Travis retired from racing, Pagnotta’s involvement in the sport switched focus to enjoying the sport from the grandstand with family and friends. When friends Kyle Pelrine and Bryce Richardson needed help – he would also lend his support.
Pagnotta, who is a mechanic at Northern Auto in Niagara Falls has the support of the Mobil 1 Lube Express franchise in addition to P.A.C. Heating and Air Conditioning. Snap On Tools Tim Stuart, ACM Grounds Maintenance, Racers Classifieds, Linwell Park Dental and Dr. Joe Ciocco, Royal LePAGE Lisa Ibba, Upfront Motorsports and Wix Filters.
Helping in the pits are friends Nick, Mike, Stacie, Trevor, Justin, Adrianne and Brittany, his uncle and former Assistant Pit Steward Rick Agnew and his parents Leo and Karen, and his brother and sister Calvin and Kaitlin
While many might think ‘13’ might be an unlucky number ... it’s one that he’s had on the big track and when he played soccer and volleyball. It’s also the day of his grandfather’s birthday – a favorite number he also shares with his mom and grandmother. His Kart Number wasn’t that far off ... 31.
Right from the start, Vincent Pagnotta has been lucky to have had the support of family and friends. That passion will drive him into his first year as a Saturday Night racer and in the years to come.
For all the news on Merrittville Speedway’s 65th Consecutive Season in 2016 – visit www.merrittvillespeedway.com. Race fans and Race teams alike can follow Merrittville on Face Book (Facebook.com/Merrittville Speedway) and Twitter (Twitter.com/Merrittville
From: Jim Irvine/ Assistant General Manager- Merrittville Speedway
905-685-7223 Winter Office