|February 10, 2009 News
|eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month - Paul Montopoli - January 2009
| Paul Montopoli earned the big Rotax Masters victory at the opening round of the Florida Winter Tour|
In a continued effort to highlight the many outstanding performances by drivers around the country, eKartingNews.com is proud to introduce the ‘Driver of the Month’ program. Each month, the staff at EKN will determine the one driver who stood out above the rest and give the viewers a chance to know exactly what they accomplished and who they are.
The great thing about the ‘Masters’ category for the aged veterans of the karting community, many are in the sport to cure the need for speed and the friendships they create from race to race. For many of them, they need to get through the weekend without any bodily damage so they can return to work Monday morning. There are many across the country that fit that profile and this month, we highlight one of them as our eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month - Paul Montopoli.
The first battle for the ‘seasoned’ drivers for the 2009 season took place at the Florida Winter Tour opening weekend at the Homestead Karting facility, January 9-11. The Rotax divisions were the first event of the double-header weekend with the Rotax Masters nearly 30 drivers taking part. At the front of the field, Montopoli found himself battling Mexican Rene Martinelli and professional driver Max Papis. Montopoli got the better of Papis in the Prefinal after qualifying third and with Papis falling off pace, Montopoli squared off against Martinelli. After multiple attempts to overtake the lead, Montopoli finally made it stick on lap 16 of the 20-lap feature and went on to earn his first major victory of his career.
The next day Montopoli followed it up with top honors in Qualifying along with the Prefinal win. On his way to a second victory in the feature with a four seconds advantage, a red flag bunched the filed back up. A terrible restart by Montopoli allowed three drivers to slide by however he would bounce back with strong determination. Working up to second, he hounded the former F1 driver Papis but was unable to get by and settled for second. The results capped off Montopoli’s best weekend in his short karting career.
Paul got his start in karting later in his life than many in the sport do, at the age of 32. In 1997, Montopoli found some local kart tracks in his area and bought his first kart from the ‘Karting Mailing List’ that was very popular at the time. He would race around the Washington DC area for 1998 and 1999 in the Formula Y and Yamaha divisions. Montopoli competed at the 1998 WKA Constructor’s Championship Series by Elf at Charlotte in the Formula Y division against the future Florida Winter Tour promoter, Bill Wright.
Montopoli moved to Germany in 2000 due to his position with BMW. While there, Paul raced ICA in the South German Championship and the Munich Kart Club where he got to meet future Formula 1 driver Adrian Sutil. Moving back to the states in 2003, Montopoli raced at the club level the next three years. The next two years would see his racing increase, competing at WKA Manufacturer’s Cup Series events and running at the Florida Winter Tour. In 2008, he finished third in Rotax Masters championship of the Tour and finished 17th at the Rotax Grand Nationals in September.
Following the Florida Winter Tour campaign, Montopoli plans to compete at the Rotax Max Challenge USA Grand Nationals in September along with some one off events throughout the year. To keep in peak performance shape, he stays sharp by making laps at GPNY indoor karting center. The rest of his future is unknown as he may move over to mechanic with his son Cole getting interest in racing soon.
| Paul Montopoli - EKN Driver of the Month - January 2009|
January 2009 EKN Driver of the Month - Paul Montopoli
Date of Birth: April 3, 1965 (New Haven, CT)
Hometown: River Vale, NJ
Marital Status: Married - Alicia (Lee)
Children: Cole (8) & Ela (5)
Height/Weight: 5'7" / 165lbs.
Education: BA Psychology, Fairfield University (Connecticut); MBA, The College of William and Mary (Virginia)
Occupation: Automotive Marketing, Ferrari North America
Chassis: First Kart FX8 tuned by AJ Whisler
Engine/Engine Builder: CMC Rotax
Sponsors: Sabelt, Speed Lock Hub, HoleShot Drive Systems
Series You Compete In: Florida Winter Tour
Years Karting: 11 - on and off
2008 - 3rd place in championship - Florida Winter Tour, Rotax Masters
2001 - 14th place in championship - South German Championship, ICA
2000 - 3rd place in championship - Kart Club Munich, IAME Pop Senior
1998 - 5th place - North American Kart Championship (Charlotte), Formula Y
1998 - 1st place in championship - Maryland State Kart Championship, Yamaha Medium
How did you get started in karting? While surfing the web in 1997 I found that there were a couple of kart tracks within a couple of hours of my house. I visited a track and then quickly bought a Tony Kart via the old Karting Mailing List shortly thereafter to get karting grandfathered in before I got married in September of that year.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Winning Round 1 of the FWT in January
What are your goals in racing? Win FWT Rotax Masters championship, win Rotax Grand Nationals, win a WKA Eagle
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? In like a lamb, out like a lion. Strong, assertive passing. Always working to get better
Funniest moment at the race track? When I started racing Formula Y (direct drive), I pushed started my kart with the throttle jimmied open a touch. When the kart started, it took off, dragging me across the hot grid. I was able to reach across and choke the airbox to stop the kart just before running into a fence.
Favorite Track: Shawano or Infineon, SRA in Canada and Ampfing in Germany
Favorite form of professional motorsports: I have been an F1 fan for over 30 years, but the perfect racing series does not exist at the moment. IRL without the ovals (except Indy) with more American drivers, and more engine diversity would be interesting. And the Ferrari Challenge.
Favorite karting driver: I admire the hard work, dedication, and pure raciness of Kevin Monteith. Also, Gary Carlton because of his dominance and his desire to win against the best in Europe.
Favorite professional driver: Jarno Trulli – a humble, fast professional. Carl Edwards in NASCAR, Ryan Hunter Ray in IRL, Memo Gidley and Terry Borcheller in Grand Am or Anthony Lazzaro in ALMS.
Favorite website: eKartingNews.com
Favorite movie: Hard to pick one. I will watch Remember the Titans any time it is on
Favorite actor/actress: Will Farrell / the hot chick from Slum Dog Millionaire
Favorite music/group: Varied – from Pearl Jam to Luther Vandross and a bunch of artists in between
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Bavaria or parts of Spain or Italy
Favorite food: Grilled fish prepared simply
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? Family time, coach my son’s soccer team, odds and ends around the house
What are your goals outside of karting? Raise my kids, spending substantial time with them and being a positive impact on their lives
What type of street car do you drive? Saab 9-3 & ’73 Alfa Romeo GTV
What type of street car would you like to drive? Ferrari 430 Scuderia or an Enzo
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? While waiting at an intersection to make a left turn when the guy behind you uncuts you and turns first. I think it is a Jersey thing.
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? Fewer classes, reduced costs – Rotax seems to be a good step in the right direction. Better regional racing programs.
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? The thrill of wheel to wheel racing and the satisfaction of making a good clean pass on a tough competitor. The friendships and relationships that are made through karting as well.
January Driver of the Month - Honorable Mention:
- Alessandra Madrigal: Florida Winter Tour - Two-time TaG Junior winner (second ever female FWT race winner)
- Phil De La O: Gatorz Challenge of the Americas - Two-time Rotax Junior winner
- Brett Felkins: SKUSA ProKart Challenge South - TaG Senior winner (First Senior victory in first 2009 Senior start)