Scandia, MN. May 25, 2018, County Messanger – Joe Valento likes to drive fast. You won’t find the Scandia 13 year old on the road, but on the racetrack — with an eye toward NASCAR.
Valento’s interest in racing was piqued at 8 years old. “My parents had taken me to a go-cart track for my birthday, and I wanted to try it again. So we went to Cedar Lake [Speedway] and I was hooked from there,” he said. “It just kind of clicked,” said his father, Keith Valento.
After testing his skill in a borrowed racecar Valento got his first car, a quarter midget. He devoted part of the season to learning and eventually won his first race on the dirt, then a novice-class competition on asphalt. In late fall, he got “a lesson in car meets the concrete wall,” Valento’s parents note on his website, joevalentoracing.com.
Valento continued to win races in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, he shifted his focus to U.S. Auto Club [USAC] races, competing all over the country: Las Vegas, Phoenix, Texas, Pennsylvania. He won a national race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and was qualifying for final races almost everywhere he went.
In 2017, the family turned its attention to strategy. Valento worked with a coach to learn racing fundamentals and more about the cars, how they worked and how to adjust for the best race.
This year, Valento is driving a micro-sprint car with a focus on dirt tracks. “We’ll run this car this year and probably most of next year, then transition him back to the asphalt side,” Keith Valento explained. “There’s a lot of racing for these cars and they’re popular right now. A lot of kids in NASCAR have come out of these cars. “The dirt teaches them a different facet of racing than the asphalt does,” he continued. “A lot of people say a little dirt is good even if you go back to the asphalt, just teaches you how to think and react when the car gets loose.”
Valento has already raced in two competitions at the Port City Raceway in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and another in Princeton, Minnesota. The rest of the season is “all over the place,” he said, Brainerd, Grand Forks, Des Moines, Sweet Springs, Missouri, and more in Port City.
“Port City is kind of a key track in the country,” explained his father. “It draws in the best racers. It’s one of the toughest tracks in the country — it’s also called Part City because it destroys cars. It’s a very difficult track. The people who are at the next level are looking at Port City and saying, ‘You have to be good at Port City before we’ll even look at you.’”
Valento was selected as a Race Face NEXT Driver a national program through Race Face Brand Development, that helps prepare NASCAR hopefuls for a career in the sport. But his motivations haven’t changed since that first run at the go-cart track. “He loves it,” said his mother, Angie Valento. “You don’t have to say, ‘Wake up, Joe, you have to go to the track.’ He’s always excited about that race day.”
Keep up to date on Joe Valentos racing career…