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
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