Teacher by day, racer by night

Starting the engine of his drag racing career in 2010, Anthony Romito, career and technical education teacher, reconstructed a car and now races it with his father.

“We built the whole car from the inside out, outside in, bottom up, top to down,” said Romito. “We built it from scratch, and it took us about 2 1/2 years to build it.”

Romito’s father purchased the 1976 Pontiac Trans Am, a stick shift sports car, before Romito was born. The fatherson duo began an extensive renovation to create the car one night at 3 a.m. in 2010.

The two often switch off who drives in racing events such as the Route 66 Classic and Burndown at Sundown.

“He’s always trying to get me to drive and I’m always trying to get him to drive.” Romito said.

His dad claims that because Romito is younger, he is quicker when it comes to changing gears and reaction time, and therefore should drive, Romito said.

There is a lot to do during a racing event, especially since Romito and his father are a two person team, but he enjoys bonding with his father, Romito said.

A typical drag race is set in a stadium-like circuit with a dragstrip lane for racing and stage indicator lights to start the race. A driving team participates in multiple races during the day, changing tires and oiling the car throughout, Romito said.

“[Racing is] really a unique experience,” said Romito. “The best way I can describe it is going down the dragstrip in a fast car feels like you’re going down the Giant Drop at Six Flags, except horizontal instead of vertical.”

Romito’s first experience in a drag race was in the passenger seat of a friend’s car, although he had been exposed to racing engines at his dad’s car shop growing up. At first, the race left him uneasy, but he decided to stick with racing and ended up falling in love with it.

His father contributed to Romito’s love for cars and also heavily influenced Romito’s passion for the adrenaline rush. The time the pair spent together in the shop when Romito was growing up instilled Romito’s interest in cars and was a factor he considered when deciding his career to be an autos teacher.

“If it weren’t for my father and for having access and exposure to the shop, and if it weren’t for his guidance and him teaching me over the years, I would not be here,” said Romito. “I would be doing something else in another field.”