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Local racer facing changes
by Dan McGee
Feb 03, 2008 | 3010 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<B>Tribune/Dan McGee</b> - After winning last summer's Ferntucky 50 for Hobby Stocks, a delighted Richard Italiano accepted the trophy.
Tribune/Dan McGee - After winning last summer's Ferntucky 50 for Hobby Stocks, a delighted Richard Italiano accepted the trophy.
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<B>Tribune/Dan McGee</b> - This past October, Richard Italiano took his Hobby Stock car to Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon to compete in the annual Dirt Track Championships. Now, with the closure of the oval at RFR,  Fallon will probably be his new racing home for the upcoming season.
Tribune/Dan McGee - This past October, Richard Italiano took his Hobby Stock car to Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon to compete in the annual Dirt Track Championships. Now, with the closure of the oval at RFR, Fallon will probably be his new racing home for the upcoming season.
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All across the area, those that race on dirt tracks are preparing for a very different season than they expected. The closure of the clay oval at the Reno-Fernley Raceway has both scrapped many plans and offered opportunities as well.

Richard Italiano is one of those adjusting to the situation.

He grew up in Boulder, Colo. and participated in a couple of sports along the way.

"I started playing baseball when I was six or seven but gave it up when I got into high school due to my grades," he said. "But I've skied my whole life as that is a passion I live for."

After he graduated from high school, Italiano moved to Reno.

"My mom lived here and I wanted an adventure so I came her for a visit and stayed," he said. "I liked it with the open spaces, desert and things I could go see."

Italiano has ridden motorcycles for years and even tried motocross for a couple of seasons.

"I rode with the Old Timers at the motocross track in Fernley," he said.

His reason for quitting had to do with battling the veterans that ride in that club.

His introduction to stock car racing came several years ago when he attended a race at RFR.

"My friends Nick Reid and Matt Potts built one of the first little pure stocks they raced there," he said. "About seven years ago I went to the track and was hooked. Now I always encourage people that go there to be careful as they might want to sell everything and go racing," he said with a laugh.

Motor racing is a sport that has attracted many fans from the stands onto the track, and as Italiano explained, can be very addictive. Since his friend Potts, who was building a pro stock had the materials, tools and know how, he built Italiano's first racer, a hobby stock car.

Unfortunately his first on track experience was a blur.

"I don't really remember my first race as it happened so quick and I was so excited," he said. "It was a big rush however."

Italiano added with a laugh that he cautions every new driver to be sure they remember his or her first race.

His first season ended with Rookie-of-the-Year honors and a third-place finish in the points, which was not an easy feat then.

"That car was a 1982 Monte Carlo and it was an awesome season with a very competitive field," Italiano said.

That was about eight years ago when RFR had just opened. At that time there were many cars competing in the Hobby Stock division. Italiano added that he, Dean Clark and Joe Specchio III has a season long battle for that championship.

"I won the title my second year when there were 42 cars and everyone was very fast," he said. "It went right to the end and was very close when Joe Specchio III wound up five points behind me. It came down to the last race and when I made the main Brandi Coclich told me that mathematically I had it."

Although he had sewn up the championship, Italiano allowed that he was very nervous during that final race.

"You really want it but you wonder if it is really going to happen," he said.

After his championship season Italiano cut back his racing the following year and then stepped out of his car the next season.

"That year I just helped other guys," he said.

This past year was very different from what he expected it to be.

"I wanted to race for fun but I won the first couple of events and got a good start in the process," he said.

After that, it appeared that Italiano was chasing his second title when an unexpected event derailed his efforts. After his father suddenly passed away, he spent a few weeks dealing with family matters and didn't race at all.

This ended his chances at another title but once he returned to the action his gray number 5 was always a contender.

One highlight last summer was the first and final Ferntucky 50 for Hobby Stocks. In this special event the division ran 50, rather than their usual 20 laps with a mandatory pit stop at the halfway point.

"Compared to the other guys, my car isn't that powerful," Italiano explained. "So I was patient and took it easy to save my tires."

Going into the event, he felt the faster drivers would use up their tires, and if he could save his, there was a good chance at winning this race. Turns out he was correct as in the second half, Italiano picked off his rivals then ran away to claim the victory.

For Italiano, the family is a priority in his life. While he puts the car in the pits and gets ready to race his wife, Denise, and daughters 12-year-old Mykayla and 8-year-old Kiera, form a very vocal rooting section in the stands.

"It's hard to believe, especially with an open exhaust, but I can hear my wife and daughters screaming every time I go by the stands," he said. "Then afterwards my girls can tell me every part of the race and I get a full report on what happened."

Like many smalltime racers, Italiano is self-funded. An IBEW electrician by trade, he puts his family first when figuring out his racing budget.

And one thing he won't give up is the family skiing trips to the mountains.

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Italiano knows there will be many changes.

"I thought RFR was a great facility, a fast track, challenging and I loved it," he said. "Fallon is amazing as it's so quick that something is always happening. At RFR I had time to plan but at Fallon you have to go out and run hard."

He and the other RFR veterans now have to adjust to the speed and action of the smaller bullring tracks in the area. And according to Italiano, he'll miss the wide-open spaces of RFR.

But when one door closes another opportunity opens.

"This year I'd like to race at more tracks," he said. "Fallon is closest but I'd like to try the Winnemucca and the new track at Lovelock," he said. "So I don't know if I'll go for a championship this season."

Right now he's going to stick with the Hobby Stock division but if he can afford it, Italiano would like to step up to the IMCA Modifieds.

"I'd like to race an IMCA as it's the car for those that do this as a hobby. The rules are the same, even at different tracks," he said.

For now however, Italiano is getting ready for the upcoming season of challenges and changes.

•This year's season begins with a Play Day at Rattlesnake Raceway on April 5. Then after a brief pause, the season begins in earnest with a Saturday event, at 6 p.m. April 26.

OTHER RACING NEWS

•Two weeks ago, at round one for the WORCS series several local riders competed in a variety of races.

Sabrina Wosick, who won the Women's A class, 250 A winner Josh Morros and 50+ C winner Tom Garrison had the best results. Sparks native Bobby Garrison, now living in Hysperia, Calif., was seventh in the Pros while Justin Soulè had problems and finished 15th in that event.

The other results are listed in the results section of this report.

RESULTS

WORCS series - Round 1

Surprise, AZ - Jan 19-20

Bobby Garrison (Sparks, NV - Hysperia, Calif.) - 7th Pro Class

Tom Garrison - (Sparks, NV) - 1st 50+ C

Martin Kite (Sparks) - 26th Open A

Cody Loudenburg (Reno) - 40th - 250 A

Josh Morros (Reno) - 4th Pro 2, 1st 250 A

Chris Samson (Reno) - 4th 250 B

Justin Soulè (Reno) - 15th Pro

Bryce Spring (Carson City) - 17th Sport 15-29 B, 9th Open B, 21st 250 FB

Bryce Tremaine (Gardnerville) - 2nd 50cc 4-6

Ty Tremaine (Gardnerville) - 8th Supermini A, 15th 125 B, 7th 85cc A

Ryan Toomey (Reno) - 55th 250 A

Sabrina Wosick (Reno) - 1st Woman's A

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