Young Fittipaldi Making Mark In NASCAR
In the world of NASCAR racing drivers are constantly trying to find a way to set them apart from other drivers.
One driver already has a head start on that in his career and while he has a familiar last name and a world famous racing pedigree – he wants to make his mark on his terms.
Pietro Fittipaldi just completed his first season of competing in the Limited Late Model Division at Hickory Motor Speedway and if his performance this year is any indication, the 14-year old native of Miami, Fl., will have a long and successful career in a stock car.
Fittipaldi is the grandson of one of the most famous open-wheeled drivers in history – Emerson Fittipaldi.
However, the teenager wants to earn his respect on his own, and judging by this season’s performance at Hickory, he is off to a great start.
Fittipaldi competed in the Limited Late Model Division at the famed track and his initial goal for the season was to just get comfortable in a stock car and it didn’t take him long.
He finished second in his sixth start and collected his first win in his 13th start on July 23.
Fittipaldi went on to win four races throughout the season and won the points title and Rookie of the Year in the division.
“At the beginning of the year I just wanted to start racing and get used to driving a full-size car,” Fittipaldi said. “I had only raced go-karts up until this year and I was really happy that we had a win as early as we did.”
One might think that first win in the one that sticks out in his mind, but the competitive driver said his win on Aug. 13 meant more to him.
“I won the pole and the race that night for my first win, but the most important win of the year – for me – was the third one I had,” Fittipaldi added. “I started third in a green-white-checkered finish and made the passes I needed to get the win. That really meant a lot to me.”
Fittipaldi has been racing since he was 7 and made his first start in a stock car late in 2010 before driving full-time this year. Fittipaldi is quick to credit is the support he gets from his crew chief Michael Faulk and everyone at Lee Faulk Racing, which prepare his cars for competition.
“Michael and Lee have been great to work with and they have both really helped me,” Fittipaldi said. “Michael is always helping me in setting up the cars and Lee is the disciplinarian that helps me get focused on the job we have for each race.”
As for his grandfather, Emerson, Pietro says he doesn’t pressure him too much.
“He doesn’t get too involved because he drove an entirely different car and he just wants me to have fun and learn as much as I can,” Pietro said. “I know he is proud of me and that means a lot.”
As for his immediate future, Pietro wants to return to Hickory Motor Speedway and move up to the Late Model Stock division next year and try to win his second title in as many years. Beyond that, Pietro has dreams of moving up in NASCAR.
“I would like to become the first Brazilian-American to win a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," Pietro said, “and I am going to keep working as hard as I can to make that happen.”
Pietro Fittipaldi Quick Facts
• Born in Maimi, Fla., currently resides in Davidson, N.C. with his parents Carlos and Juliana.
• Has a total of 27 wins and 24 poles throughout his racing career in go-karts and limiteds
• Won three division championships (1 in Limited Late Model, 2 in karting)
• He is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish.
• Was one of three drivers under the age of 17 to finish in the top-five of the final point standings in the Limited Late Model Division at Hickory (Matt Piercy and Anna Beth Barnes)