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Senior citizen racer Misuraca still has ‘need for speed’

Art Misuraca, a longtime Hamburg area resident, who’s a 68-year-old drag racer, stands with his car, a 1934 Ford Coupe. The Frontier High School graduated is in the midst of a new season with Gasser Racing Series, after last year, he won the Gold Cup Event.

Becoming a senior citizen is commonly equated with slowing down.

Art Misuraca, a longtime Hamburg resident, is only getting faster as he ages.

The 68-year-old has been drag racing regularly since 2007 in the 1934 Ford Coupe he became dedicated to rebuilding after his retirement.

He now drag races regularly as part of the Gasser Racing Series at Empire Dragway in Leicester and also takes a trip here and there to a neighboring state to compete.

Even at his age, Misuraca said he still feels that “need for speed.”

“You’re always striving to go faster,” he said.

“Of course, I don’t want to go too fast at my age,” he added with a chuckle.

Misuraca has been racing since the 1970s and attended competitions since his childhood, but that desire to get on to the track himself only became greater as he got older.

Once he retired from his work doing construction and was no longer raising a family, Misuraca found that he had the time and money to put into pursuing what had only once been an aspiration.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to get into it,” said Misuraca, a 1962 graduate of Frontier High School whose family moved to the Hamburg area when he was in the seventh grade.

“I used to go and watch the races and raced on and off with another car but it was infrequent,” he added. “I built this car specifically for this race class. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed.”

He now races a few times a month in the Nostalgia Gas Class at Empire Dragway against competitors of similar age, some with more racing experience and others kind of new to the sport like Misuraca.

Racers compete in cars from the 1930s to `60s, each with history and rebuilt like a work of art, according to Janice Clifford, who works in promotions for Gasser Racing Series.

It’s been quite an experience as Misuraca not only gets to follow a dream but also is around a family-like atmosphere at the track with the other drivers in the group in which he races.

“We’ll have time trials and then have a barbeque,” Misuraca said. “It’s a really family thing — you bring your wife or girl friend — and it’s really enjoyable.”

Drag racing has been an adjustment for Misuraca, who is still considered a less experienced driver among the group. It’s such a fast sport — races start and finish in what seems like just seconds — so he said being focused is crucial.

The lights come on and how quick a racer can react determines how they’ll finish. A perfect reaction time is within .500 seconds.

“You need to be close to that to get an advantage,” Miscuraca said. “You learn to be perfect on the lights. I’m still a little inconsistent with that. If you lose concentration for just an instant, the other guy’s got an advantage on you.”

A handicapped system is used in the class so that slower riders see the lights turn on before their quicker counterparts, depending on the difference in handicaps.

However, Misuraca pointed out that a slow reaction time quickly negates any advantage. In competitions, there is an attempt to match cars with similar speeds.

Even up against more seasoned racers, Misuraca has managed to win an event the past three years, including earning one of the track’s big prizes, the Gold Cup, a two-day event that crowns a champion each day.

“It’s a constant learning process — some guys have been doing it since they were young men and I’ve been doing it as regular routine only since 2007. But I’ve managed to win something the last three years,” Misuraca said.

The season at Leicester is about halfway done with remaining races scheduled for July 13 and 27 and Aug. 3. Misuraca also will compete in mid-July in events at Thompson and Norwalk, Ohio racetracks.

It’s all to fulfill that need for speed, and in the process, he’s proving it’s never too late to fulfill a dream. For him, that’s regularly getting behind the wheel of a racecar.


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