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Love of racing reunites Newport Beach buddies

August 01, 2005|By: Rick Devereux

The stereotypical boy growing up in Orange County is involved with

such activities as surfing, skateboarding or volleyball -- the type

of events Southern California is known for.

But for Casey Suzuki and Trinon Cirello, growing up in Newport

Beach centered around different activities.

"My uncle would take me to the [Orange County International

Raceway]," Suzuki said. "As a kid, I just loved the noise and how

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fast [the dragsters] could go."

Cirello grew up in an auto racing family. His grandfather built

parts for Indy cars in the 1950s, followed by his father in the '70s

and '80s.

Now 35, Suzuki and Cirello -- who live a couple of blocks from

each other in Newport Beach -- are co-owners of a dragster set to

compete at Pomona Raceway Friday through Sunday in the Goodguys

Pomona Nitro Nationals.

This is not the first time Suzuki and Cirello have teamed together

on a racing endeavor.

Cirello asked for and received a motorcycle for Christmas when he

was a teenager. He promptly entered the junior nationals at the Costa

Mesa Speedway. But he needed someone to help him take care of the

bike. Cirello's friend from grade school -- Cameron Evans -- and

Evans' friend from junior high -- Suzuki -- became the mechanics.

"My grandfather used to watch me race and he never understood why

I wanted to do that instead of help the cars go faster like he did,"

Cirello said. "I just loved the competitive side of it and I liked

the excitement of racing."

Cirello won the American Motocross Association's United States

Speedway junior championship in 1984 as a 15-year-old with Suzuki as

his mechanic at roughly the same time the Ritz-Carlton hotel opened

in Dana Point.

The total sensory experience of racing is what drew Suzuki, when

many in Orange County found enjoyment out of other activities.

"The way the cars would start would shake your chest," Suzuki

said. "And the smell -- it just smelled exciting to me."

Cirello continued for a brief time as a motorcycle racer after

graduating from Newport Harbor High and spending two years at Orange

Coast College. But he soon followed his family heritage and opened

his own business, Lift and Store portable storage.

Suzuki stayed in racing and stayed behind the scenes as a

mechanic. He traveled the United States, building his knowledge of

automotives and racing mechanics.

"A lot of people ask me if I went to school to learn this stuff,"

he said. "I learned by watching other people and asking questions."

Suzuki never missed an opportunity to learn something new, which

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