It's Never Too Late To Start!

This article originally appeared in Pit Talk, the official publication of New England Region, SCCA Inc. It is published online and available in print free of charge to all members of the Region. View more great Pit Talk content here.

Eddie Zemeck lives and works in Schenectady, NY and is a member of the Mohawk-Hudson Region.  On March 19, 2021, Eddie will celebrate being 72 years young!  We think Eddie is a great example of how it’s never too late to start club racing.

Like many baby boomers, Eddie graduated High School and deferred military service by entering college and marrying his high school sweetheart, Miss Toni Nicotera.  He earned a B.S. Forest Engineering at SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry.  Initially thinking he might become a Forest Ranger, the courses at SUNY helped him discover his interest in engineering.  Eddie continued his education attending Syracuse University, earning another a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering.

After University, Eddie began a successful career in civil engineering and design, environmental safety, and construction.  He owned and operated his own business for many years, specializing in the construction of antenna towers on everything from tall buildings to mountain peaks.  Eddie professes no fear of heights and possesses a wise appreciation for training and quality safety gear.  While discussing his experience ascending tall antenna masts and climbing high atop water towers, Eddie noted the parallels with wheel-to-wheel competition and driving at speeds above 100 mph.  We easily agreed, it’s all about getting trained (driving schools) and using safety gear (full face helmet, HANS, fire suit, fire suppression system in a roll caged race car).

Eddie and Toni raised two children Heather and Matthew.  Unfortunately, in 2018, Eddie’s loving wife for 48 years passed away after fighting breast cancer for almost two decades.  Both of Eddie’s adult age children live nearby, neither have married, and he doesn’t yet have any grandchildren.

One of the passions Eddie and Toni shared was a love of driving Ford Mustangs, beginning with their first used car purchased together.  Eddie said, “It was a 1966 Mustang in forest green with a white convertible top, wire wheel covers, and 289 cubic inch V8 producing a whopping 271 bhp.”  Years later, after Toni completed breast cancer surgery and treatments, the couple bought a new 2008 Mustang GT.  It was also a convertible, specially equipped with the Warriors in Pink package.  “Both the ‘66 and ‘08 were special cars,” he explained, but then added his current daily driver, a 2019 Mustang GT, with the 6 speed manual transmission, 5.0 liter V8 engine, and performance package “is the best car ever!”

After getting his newest Mustang, Eddie discovered the SCCA and considered our club’s many ways to have fun with cars.  Initially he planned on doing autocross, but the Mohawk-Hudson Region had lost their site at nearby Schenectady Airport.  Then Eddie discovered Track Night in America(TNiA) and enjoyed driving his new car at Pocono Raceway, Watkins Glen International, and Palmer Motorsports Park.  He began exploring options for professional instruction and learned about the Skip Barber Racing School at Lime Rock Park.  Remembering his celebrity idol Paul L. Newman raced at Lime Rock, Eddie invested in attending the one-day Skip Barber Racing School where, as serendipity would have it, the school provided car was a specially prepared Mustang GT.

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Words and Images by James Ray