This family’s legacy began with a Brazilian – Emerson Fittipaldi was a two-time Formula One champion and Indianapolis 500 winner.
Then came Christian Fittipaldi, Emerson’s nephew, with a 1995 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honor and a victory in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Denver-based Action Express Racing.
Davidson resident Pietro Fittipaldi, Emerson’s grandson, became the first Latin American NASCAR champion, winning the 2011 Hickory Motor Speedway track title and Rookie of the Year in the Limited Late Model division. He competed in late models last year before transitioning to open-wheel cars. This year, the 18-year-old Pietro is dominating England’s Protyre Formula Renault Championship, having won four of the series’ six races.
Enzo Fittipaldi, Pietro’s younger brother and Emerson’s grandson, is up for the task of following his family’s footsteps. He would like to eventually compete in stock cars and open-wheel racing.
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“If I do really good in limited late models and can go to late models, and if I win a championship at Hickory or a lot of races, then I could probably do (NASCAR) K&N,” said Enzo, 12.
Earlier this year, Enzo finished second in the Mini Max Class of the Go-Kart U.S. Grand Nationals in Mooresville, along with uncle and road racing veteran Max Papis. After four rounds in the GoPro Motorplex Mini Max Go-Kart Division, Enzo was second in the standings with four top-five finishes, including a victory.
Last week he took a break from the Legend Young Lions division in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series to travel to Utah for the Go-Karts U.S. Grand Nationals. Before heading to Utah he won back-to-back heat races in the Legend Young Lions division first and second rounds.
“It’s hard to learn at first,” Enzo said about his Legend car. “You have to be aggressive with it and it’s really loose. It’s really different from the road course stuff that I drive. I really like it. You have to know how to control it.”
Enzo’s father, Carlos Da Cruz, moved his family from Miami to Davidson in July 2011 because Pietro was racing at Hickory. Enzo, who had been racing go-karts since age 5, entered Bandolero competition after the family settled in Davidson.
“I had a lot to learn about oval racing because I had always raced on road courses,” Enzo said about his Bandolero car.
Last year in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Bandolero Bandits division, Enzo finished in the top five on three occasions. He moved to Legend cars this year, competing in the speedway’s Winter Heat and a few races at Concord Motorsports Park in preparation for the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series.
His father’s plans call for his younger son to become acquainted with a limited late model after his 13th birthday in June. Da Cruz has already met with Lee Faulk Racing about testing Enzo in a limited late model in October.
“Our focus is NASCAR,” Da Cruz said. “We’re going to test a (limited) late model in Hickory. Probably a few races this year and next year probably the full season, but it all depends on the sponsors.”
Emmerling vying for another title
Two-time open-wheel modified track champion Matt Emmerling is in a tight race with Gastonia’s Patrick Lyon, Concord’s Ryan Ayers and Stanley’s Manuel Johnson for East Lincoln Speedway’s open-wheel modified championship.
The Lincolnton driver, who was East Lincoln Speedway’s 2012 champion and Carolina Speedway’s title holder last year, leads Lyon by 10 points, Ayers by 15 and Johnson by 20.
The next open-wheel modified race at East Lincoln Speedway is July 19.
IHRA visits Mooresville Dragway
The IHRA Pro Am event at Mooresville Dragway originally scheduled for March will be held July 11 and 14 with the starting times at 2 and 6 p.m., respectively.
2 Stanley drivers victorious at Carolina Speedway
Greg Clark and Adam Vandiver won their respective divisions June 20 at Carolina Speedway. Clark won the late model feature while Vandiver was victorious in street stock.