Photo and Story by RaceChaser Online Correspondent Steven Ovens –
Dirt track go-kart racing is a form of racing that many of the top names in NASCAR and the Super DIRTcar Series have elevated themselves from. For some drivers in Central New York, go-karts are a way of life. For local drivers Peter Palmieri, John Palmieri and Tobie Fitzsimmons 2013 had it’s ups and downs and 2014 is looking awfully bright.
2013 was quite a rebuilding year for Palmieri Brothers Racing. For the first time in what had seemed like a decade- the Palmieri brothers were back together racing under the PBR banner. Peter, affectionately known as P2 or ‘The Dragon’, had been previously racing as a hired gun for a local dirt team. John, known locally as ‘Johnson’, was in his second year piloting a self-owned 27J. Prior to 2013, a second chassis was purchased with a Clone engine for Peter to return to the family-owned team to race the New York Dirt Kart Series all across New York State.
Their year kicked off with a very successful Fundraising event at Kegs Canal Side Event Center in their hometown of Jordan, NY. The event featured both race karts on stage and even featured a photo booth while Creekside Entertainment provided music to open up for local country musician TJ Sacco who performed a live acoustic set.
P2 started his year with a fast kart right out of the box. A fast go-kart brought home a heat win and their first podium finish with a 3rd at Paradise Speedway. On his next outing, Pete ran away with a feature win at “The Bullring” at Oswego Kartway. This really gave Pete momentum heading into the NYDKS, but it seemed that the early season success was where his season would hit its peak.
The NYDKS season started off ok but as the series season wore on the handle on the #68 seemed to slip out of PBR’s grasp. 3 Top-10’s and a Top-15 finish landed Palmieri in 7th place for the year-end standings that was awarded in Batavia, NY this winter.
“2013 was a very up and down year. I’m hoping 2014 will allow the team to focus on the areas we were short on this past year. This year was about adding the second chassis to the team and keeping that running for each race. Next year I plan to run each NYDKS race and maybe a few local money races,” said a hopeful Peter Palmieri.
John Palmieri and dirt track racing go together like pizza and wings – A natural fit that was just meant to be together. When ‘Johnson’ hit the track in 2013, he did so with a sharp looking 27J. It is no coincidence that his number reflects that of “The Doctor” Danny Johnson who is a local star on the Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified series.
John Palmieri competes in the Stock Light division- one that does not feature any slouches and features several powerhouse teams. One team includes those out of the Speedtech facility, which we will cover in the very near future here on Race Chaser Online. At season’s end, John was pleased to come home with a 9th place finish in points.
He talked with Race Chaser about the highlights of the season, “Taking home a Top-10 in the state series is a great feeling especially against the top guys in the state. Being able to team up with my brother and Tobie and give each other feedback is unbelievable.”
John’s highlights included wins at the Savannah Highbanks speedway and included his first career win at Paradise Speedway to finish off the season. His 2014 plans include running the NYDKS and select local shows in an effort to keep things fresh for each series race.
Palmieri ended our sit-down with, “I want to thank our sponsors Creekside Entertainment, Kegs Canal Side Event Center, TJ Sacco and the Urban Cowboys band and Mormile Racing Engines. With the support of these folks, we are able to go out and pursue our passion for dirt racing.”
As there is in any sport, some seasons or periods of time during a season can have something that rallies a team. Sometimes that ‘something’ can be a loss that isn’t one that happens on the race track. For the Palmieris and local shoe Tobie Fitzsimmons, 2013 was marred by the loss of a very close racing friend Justin Lamb in a non-racing related accident.
After the loss of Justin each of these drivers dedicated their seasons to racing in memory of Justin. The Oswego Kartway ran the inaugural ‘Justin Lamb Memorial’ to cap off their 2013 season on the Kartway’s Track Championship Night. Fitzsimmons went onto the Kartway that night and paid tribute to his fallen friend the best way he knew how to- by winning.
“My highlight of the season was winning the Justin Lamb Memorial,” said a reflective Fitzsimmons.
Other highlights for 2013 included winning the Stock Light division at the New York State Indoor championships in the Center of Progress Building at the New York State Fairgrounds. Tobie also set fast time for the Oswego Kartway Classic, placed second in the ‘Battle at the Bullring’ and collected several victories in various Clone divisions at the Paradise Speedway.
2014 will have the goal of winning an Oswego Kartway championship for the driver of the 23 and 17 go-karts. Fitzsimmons noted, “Paradise Speedway will always be my home track, but my main focus in 2014 is Oswego.”
All three drivers look to come back strong in 2014 and carry on the tradition of racing in their families. They also look to carry the torch in keeping the memory alive of their fallen friend Justin. I know that wherever Justin gets to watch the races from, he sports a big smile watching his friends be successful.