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Ciarlei takes top honors at SCCA race

Brian Ciarlei was born to drive.

In 1979, six months pregnant with Brian, his mother, Lynn, was sporting a belly and going to the races as a spectator with soon-to-be daddy Joe, who has always had a love of cars and racing. That love of engines and the perfect run was passed down to Brian.

"The first word he ever spoke was 'car.' I knew we were going to get along quite well," Joe said.

Later the passion for driving was passed down to a daughter, Sara who has even gotten behind the wheel of a racecar from time to time.

But for the boy who wanted to do nothing but drive, Brian has achieved what some car enthusiasts only dream of doing. The Marcellus native and Manlius resident holds the championship title from the Sports Car Club of America following his biggest win yet at the F-Modified National Championship races in Topeka, Kan. this past September.

The win was all sort of by chance, though.

"I wasn't going to go this year," Brian said. "I couldn't afford it."

With a little goading from his girlfriend and fellow racer Michelle Quinn, Brian found a way to make it to Topeka. He borrowed a friend's truck to haul the 1988 Red Devil Formula 440 and Lynn made food, like a homemade apple pie, for the crew to eat along the way.

"We were so low on money we got contributions from friends, family," Brian said.

To conserve funds, they slept in the truck and during their travels; they found friends in motels and borrowed use of their showers.

"He really impressed my wife and I because he really put the whole package together to get out there," said Brian's dad, Joe, adding that there are so many details that go into a race like the SCCA Championships that to get it all done it's like having a second full-time job. "It's such a huge event out there."

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