I got my start on dirt bikes, but the seeds of racing were planted long before that, when I was a youth. This was my first dirt bike. It took me years to convince my parents to let me get it. I set up a scramble track in our yard and would bang around it for hours on end. Steens 100cc, great minicycle.
This was my second bike. I could disassemble it 100% and rebuild it, and I often did. I was banging around various sand pits on Long Island, and eventually made the jump into Motocross racing, thinking it would be more organized. Three or four races and this Hodaka SuperRat was used up quickly, plus outclassed as a 100cc in the 125 class. This is me in high school, 1974.
I was going racing, and I sunk all I had into this Husqvarna 125 to assault the Motocross scene. It was a rocket of a bike, that handled beautifully, but long travel suspensions were on the way, and this bike was just behind the curve. More importantly, the guy I bought it from had ruined the transmission, and as a self-supported novice mechanic, I never got it right. It ended with my right leg in a cast. Here, in the sand at Bridgehampton, 1975.
Somehow I managed to coerce my parents into signing my permission slip to go to Formula Ford school with Skip Barber. This is at Lime Rock Park, my first experience on a race track in a race car. I’m 16 years old, not even holding a driver’s license yet! Dad’s Ferrari is parked in the background, 1975.
I drove this Scirocco for 5 or so years, modifying it and campaigning it in autocrosses all over the northeast. Eventually, it took an outright race car on slicks to beat me. Here outside of Philadelphia, on a cold fall day where I’d grab another FTD.
My Scirocco was always a crowd pleaser, and I collected trophies far and wide depending upon where I was going to school at the time. Montreal, Philadelphia, New York and here en route to an FTD in Cornwall, Ontario, 1983.
Here’s my first track car, Mitsubishi Starion ESI. It was a really nice looking car, with good power and features, but the steering was sloppy and it was a bit loose. I used it to learn road courses, stepping out of autocross to give up on competition for more track time. I was lucky not to pile it up a few times! Bridgehampton, 1990.
I leased this AWD Eagle Talon, with an intercooled turbo, and it was a great car to track. I used it to learn nearly every track in the Northeast, but eventually decided not to lease track cars anymore, because it didn’t pay to modify them suitably. Still, this car taught me a lot, and was very safe. Brigehampton, 199
I was living in NYC and didn’t own a car, when Radio Control racing became the rage. I ran a bunch of buggies on the off-road scene and had great fun. The racing was a high-tech and realistic as it gets, and I worked really hard at it. 1995.
This was my stadium truck, although the cars never looked the same for very long. We were constantly modifying them, and after awhile I figured out that for what I was spending I could probably afford to be sitting in something! Still, I gained so much race experience in a very short time that it was well worth it, until all the tracks went out of business, just like slot cars did when I was a kid.
I returned to F/F School at Bridgehampton, under the leadership of 1994 F/F National Champion John Fillipakis, and this re-ignited my racing aspirations. Here with a Swift in 1998.
I was able to swing a few track days at Bridgehampton in this F/2000. It was a fantastic ride with full ground effects and slick tires.
Few things compare to coming under the bridge at Bridgehampton, flat out in a ground effects car and plunging down to Millstone, here at 140+ in a F/2000 Van Dieman. I was lapping in the 1:28’s and thinking I could be World Champion. 1998.
Sprint karts proved to be a great way to get lots of quality seat time relatively cheaply. Plus, you can mix it up with your buddies, all day long. Oakland Valley Raceway, 2002.
We used to rent the whole fleet of karts at Oakland Valley and stage races and events for kicks. On occasion, I’d grab the checker in the end.
Here’s my Mustang Cobra, in street trim. I did two One Lap of Americas in this car, and countless track days. I developed it and modified the suspension and interior myself, learning a lot about it, and it was a very easy car to work on. In the end, it was a really good looking steed, but the chassis was awful. Here at Pocono in 1999, testing before my second “One Lap”.
This was shot at Texas World Speedway in my second attempt at One Lap of America. I had trophied as a rookie in this car, but was outclassed in 1999. It was an incredible experience to drive your car around the country and learn a new track each day, meeting people that were just as car crazy. 1999
Eventually, Bridgehampton finally did shut down, but until it did we would rent it and just run our cars around all day long, oftentimes renting Club Fords for more fun. This is the famous downhill after the bridge, in a Crossle, 1999.
I decided that I wanted a Porsche, after the whole Mustang thing, and this ’98 Carerra C2S was as good as I could get. A fabulous car, but I realized it needed some changes to make it more track worthy. Here at the “heal of the boot”, Watkins Glen, 2001.
Once I got my Carerra set up right, it was a fantastic street and track car. I ran a lot of track days in it, and it was strong, dependable and fast. So much so that I began to get nervous that something expensive might soon happen. This shot is rounding the carousel at Summit Point, 2002. Check out my car number!
This was a one-off deal, I swung a deal to run with Bertil Roos on the Nazareth oval in 1999. It was an interesting experience, but the cars were dogs. Pennsylvania, 1999
This was my first taste of a shifter kart, a rental at Oakland Valley. If nothing else, I learned never to go out drinking the night before attempting to race such a fast machine!
I bought this shifter kart on e-bay, and spent a few months getting it dialed. It was so fast and potent that just getting comfortable in it was the main thing. I really liked the physical aspect of driving it hard, but could only hang on for 10 or so laps, here at Oakland Valley Raceway, 2005.
I went back to school in a Bertil Roos F/2000 to get licensed, and blew everyone away! It was a great weekend for building my confidence, here at Pocono on the North Course, 2004.
I did a bunch of long distance enduros with my buddies Bill Tesar and Charles Lennon in this Spec Miata. It was a real team effort, with pit stops, refueling and driver changes. We’d run 12 hours at Summit Point, as shown here, and 13 hours of VIR a few times, knocking on the door with each event. West Virginia, 2005
Here’s my second race in PCA, in the famous esses at Road Atlanta. I was fresh off a double win at Sebring the first time I ever drove this car and was getting up to speed here in practice, just minutes before a horrendous accident in which a novice took me out. My fabulous race car was wrecked, and I was injured. Atlanta, 2005
Here we are on the podium at VIR in our third try with the Spec Miata, third place in class after 13 hours. Left to Right; Charles Lennon, myself and car owner Bill Tesar at 1am. Virginia, 2005
Here’s another one-off deal. I’m pictured with Rick DeMan at Mosport Park in 2005. The team let me co-drive this GT3 Cup car with Rick in an enduro. This was the most modern and potent car I’d driven to date, just fantastic, especially at this track. Mosport, Ontario, 2005
Eventually we rebuilt the 924DP and debugged it. I got it back into the winner’s circle, too. The Porsche Club would always publish my race reports, and it’s been a great experience, especially being part of a top flight team. Here I’m enroute to a second place at the CanAm Challenge, Mosport Park 2006.
Vintage Racing is where I really wanted to be, and so we configured my Porsche to run a night enduro at Sebring under HSR with these headlights. Out back in the dark late hours at Sebring they sure worked great, and I had the car in the lead in the closing stages when a half shaft pulled out and I coasted home in fourth. Sebring, 2007.
DeMan Motorsport put me in this F-Class Boxster for the 2007 CanAm Challenge at Mosport Park. It was a great ride, I brought it home 4th in the sprint race. Mosport, 2007
A new era begins. Not so much for the car that I’m driving here, or for the team I’m on, but more for the fact that New Jersey Motorsport Park has opened. It’s a first class venue that promises to change the face of racing in the NE. Millville, NJ 2008
I reverted to rear engine to co-drive this 911 to a second place finish in 100 degree heat at the Lightning Circuit, only to be DQ’d for being 10 lbs underweight! – NJMP, 09/08
Here’s a shot from my first visit to Nationals, where I placed fifth in the Country, and second in the Northeast. I was awarded Rookie of the Year honors. More importantly, the car is sponsored by my dental vendors! Virginia International Raceway, 2009
By the 2011 season I had my program up to full speed, and I was experiencing a lot of racing. I won the North East Division in 944 SuperCup, then went to Nationals with an insurmountable lead and bagged the National Championship! Here’s the Victory Celebration (on Halloween). Millville, NJ, 2011
I’m entirely self-sufficient now, trailering and transporting to each event, when in the Northeast. Road trips add to the adventure! Here loaded to go with my Durango and trailer.
I came back to Nationals in 2012 hoping to defend my championship, and defend it I did! Driving the race of my life, I came through a competitive field to take over and blow their doors off! It was my most memorable and biggest win. NJMP 2012
2013 has been a great year, with a repainted car a new aero package, and more trophies in the case! Shown here at speed, Lightning Circuit, NJMP, Millville, NJ.
A great way to end the season, and look ahead to the future. Testing a state of the art 2.9 liter Cayman race car with PDK transmission at Monticello Motor Club. A fantastic car and a great place! November, 2013
My success in 944SuperCup got me a deal to attend the Advanced Formula Car School at Bondurant. Regarded as the Ivy League of race schools, I got 5 hours a day in this Formula Mazda, out in the Arizona desert. Firebird International Raceway, Chandler, AZ, April, 2014.
A few races in the Bertil Roos Race Series, using their F/2000 cars kept me entertained. NJMP and Pocono, PA. 2014
A few stints as a codriver in Endurance races in this Spec Boxster classed racer may have convinced me that this is the place for me to venture to next. I’ve always preferred mid-engined cars. Stay tuned. Summit Point, W. VA. Sept, 2014
Having forged deep connections with Porsche gave me some opportunities to act as a quasi-test driver. I delighted in track testing virtually every current production Porsche. (scenes from Watkins Glen and Pocono)
Having raced and driven Porsche Boxsters in various configurations, and having a love for mid-engined cars, moving on to this professionally- built SpecBoxster seemed like a good idea, so I grabbed it and can’t wait to get my program going again.
The SpecBoxster is a terrific car to drive, but I underestimated just how competitive this growing class has become. The car and driver have to be knife edge, and the margins are minuscule. Fantastic racing, but it’s really hard to win! Watkins Glen 2016
I drove this Cayman GT4 at the Porsche Driving Experience and learned all kinds of skid and evasive maneuvers – way fun! -Los Angeles, CA, 2017
More endurance racing, now in this E36 BMW with the AER series – NJMP, Millville, NJ 2017
Come talk with Dr. Celenza about car racing anytime, all while getting that perfect smile! Stop by or give our office a call anytime.