Author: Fazio, Bobby
Date published: April 6, 2012
Journal code: NDRG
It had been "A Long December" (much like that Counting Crows song), and as I was trying to get through finals at Villanova University, I was traveling back and forth to Bryn Mawr Hospital every night to keep my mom, dad, and sister company. Mom was sick with cancer, and it had gotten to its worst point, and her hospital room had become a revolving door full of loving friends and relatives. All I could think about was what life would be like in the aftermath because doctors had not hesitated to inform us of the inevitable.
On Dec. 23, 2005, the inevitable did happen, and life was forever altered for me. Anyone who has ever lost someone dear to them can relate to the sadness and confusion that follows, but I tried my best to reflect on the time we spent together, especially the time I got to spend with her about a week prior. What no one else knew was that one night I made it to the room before anyone else and had the opportunity to talk to mom alone for a little while. We talked about everything we could for that hour, things like school, work, family, and her unshakable faith in God. She still managed to joke around like she always did: "Get dad to sell that race car. It's been sitting for so long!" I just laughed because I couldn't agree more.
That little red Mustang had been occupying prime real estate under blankets since 1991, and all it did was bruise knees when you were trying to navigate through the garage. Racing was the furthest thing from my mind at the time, and my trips to the track were limited to watching Stock and Super Stock at the Englishtown and Maple Grove national events. Though I always did dream of one day driving the car, it was kind of difficult to ever think it would come to fruition after 14 years.
About a year later, I was out in the garage, and having not seen the exterior of the '65 in forever, I pulled all the blankets off to reveal the aging paint job. I must say, the blankets did their job because it did not look too bad for being so old. "Fazio Family Racing" in Ford blue was still on the doors and "Bob and Rosemary" on the windows. Here is where the begging and pleading started. "Dad, can we please get the Super Stocker back out and racing again?" I must have asked this question a thousand times, and Dad would always give the same response he had given since 1991 when I was an 8-year-old asking the same question: "We will get it out soon; it just takes lots of work." I am no mechanic, so I really couldn't argue. Instead, I resorted to accusing him that his answer was getting as old as the car.
To prove I was serious, I told him I was looking for a car to learn bracket racing and that I would need his help finding one. What started out as a swift "no," transformed to a slow "no," then to an even slower "yes." Success! We found a '90 Mustang for $2,800 and headed to the track to start learning the best way possible: by getting my butt kicked by Maple Grove regulars. It took five months, but I finally picked up my first win. Six wins and six runner-ups over the next few years, Dad finally agreed to race Super Stock.
Dad said Super Stock would take lots of work and money, but I had no idea how much. He would say, "Our car is so antiquated, people are going to laugh at us." I reminded him of my first day in a public-speaking class at Villanova and how the teacher made us sing a song in front of the whole class to overcome fear. Needless to say, I wasn't worried about getting laughed at.
We both wanted to keep the car the same way it was when he drove, and despite everyone telling us stick shifts were obsolete in Super Stock and difficult to maintain let alone win in, we installed transmission anyway. With our miniscule budget, SecondHandPros.com and eBay became our performance warehouses. We found a McLeod clutch setup, Crower and Manley valvetrain components, and Mickey Thompson tires. I am very lucky to have a dad who can do all of his own work and perform magic with used parts. He specializes in the rear and transmission, but he also assembles all of our motors, and I am spinning the little 289 around 9,000 rpm on used parts.
The next thing the car needed was a wiring makeover. My dad's brother, Joe, is an electrician in California, but he makes the trip back to Pennsylvania as much as he can to help us work on the car, trailer, and everything else. After two weeks and 100 muscle aches, every wire was ripped out and replaced with a new one, color coded, labeled, and neatly tied.
After 18 years, we were out there as a family and having a great time. We made so many new friends, and all the memories I had as a kid returned. The sound, smell, and feel of being at the track never gets old. When I know I get to race the next day, I'm like a 5-year-old on Christmas Eve who can't sleep. I get to hang out with my dad, uncle, grandfather, cousin Jamie (the chef who cooks awesome food for us at the track), and our family friend Rich Krzemien (aka Krez), the team captain who provides the signature Corropolese tomato pie everyone loves. It's been two years since we brought the car back out, and I'd like to think our tribute to Rosemary has been a success. Now we just need a win.
For 2012, we are turning my trusty bracket Mustang into a Stocker, so we are hard at work on that project along with building a 289 and drivetrain for our friend Jamie Schoenly's '72 Maverick in GT/KA. We've come a long way and never thought we would be racing again, especially not two cars, but faith in God despite difficult situations has led us here. While we have no formal sponsorship, none of this would be possible without my dad, uncle, grandparents, the Epprechts, the Scholls, Mike Kost, Vince Rocchino, BMS Racing Engines, MoneyMakerRacing.net, 1320go.com, Kip Martin, and Eddie Beidler.
Bobby Fazio is the driver of the Fazio Family Racing '65 Ford Mustang.