“When I was little, I’d always sit on the front porch and watch cars go by and name them,” he said.
The 18-year-old started racing go-karts at age 8 and full-sized cars at age 15. Now, Albano is in Atlanta for the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge. He’s ranked second in his class, entering the last race of the series.
If he wins the championship on Friday, he will go home with $75,000 to use on future races, and he’ll be one step closer to his dream of making a career out of racing.
“My goal is to be paid to race a car,” he said. “It’s always been my dream to become a professional race car driver.”
Albano said his MX-5 looks like a normal street car from the outside, but the interior is stripped and equipped with a full roll cage and a five-point harness. The car can hit speeds of about 130 miles per hour, but the cars usually average 80 miles per hour in races, where the goal is to try to complete as many laps in the given time. Albano said higher-level racers get faster cars.
Albano attends the Skip Barber Racing School, which has produced famous drivers such as Paul Newman, Jeff Gordon and Marco Andretti. He said it costs him about $30,000 to have access to the car and pay for the season’s races, even after winning a half scholarship from Mazda in 2013.
“Drivers tend to run out of money before they run out of talent,” Albano said.
Aside from pursuing a career as a professional driver, Albano is also pursuing a double major in music and journalism as a full-time undergraduate student.