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Father, Son Bridge Distance Gap through SCCA Racing

Racers from all over the United States will converge on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sept. 25-Oct. 1 to compete in the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, the most prestigious amateur racing event in America.

But perhaps none will have a longer trip to the Racing Capital of the World than Tom Miserendino.

Miserendino, 67, will travel from his home in London to race with his son Mike and their nine other MBI Racing teammates in the two Spec Racer Ford classes. Tom Miserendino is an American who works in England as president and chief operating officer of AEG Europe, the European subsidiary of the global sports and entertainment company.

“He’s hardcore,” Mike Miserendino said of his father. “That’s just how he rolls. He’s been travelling for work forever, so it’s just second nature for him. I’m glad he does it because he can come race with us.”

Tom Miserendino has raced in SCCA competition for about 30 years, primarily on the West Coast. When he was transferred from the United States to the United Kingdom in 2013, Miserendino’s racing schedule was curtailed. But it didn’t stop.

He still flies to the U.S. for four or five SCCA race weekends per year, driving his No. 15 Spec Racer Ford 3 car. Mike Miserendino, from Bakersfield, California, races in that class against his father and in the Generation 2 Spec Racer Ford class, which features identical chassis to the Generation 3 class but older, less powerful engines.

The journey from the UK to the USA can involve crazy flight schedules and very little sleep for Tom Miserendino, depending on his work schedule. He sometimes hops a direct flight on Thursday morning from London to Los Angeles, arriving at dinner time on the West Coast. Then Tom will drive to wherever the team is racing, compete Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and hop on a red-eye flight back to the UK on Sunday night.

“Sometimes he’s crazy,” Mike Miserendino said about his father, with a laugh. “He’s incredible. I don’t know how he does that stuff. I would be asleep for the next week.”

That arduous travel schedule for amateur racing motivates Mike Miserendino to ensure his father’s car – and the other 10 Spec Racer Fords fielded by the MBI team – are well prepared for all races. Mike Miserendino, 31, works as the business development manager of Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, California. MBI Racing’s shop is based at the track, which allows Mike to help with car preparation and check on the progress of all maintenance.

“Knowing that my dad goes to this crazy effort to come, it’s cool and makes me want to try hard and make sure everything is right,” Mike Miserendino said. “All the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed.”

MBI Racing is a family affair in many ways. Team owner Mark Ballengee, who also drives for the team in Spec Racer Ford, is Mike Miserendino’s father-in-law. Tom Miserendino’s brother also races with the team.

“We enjoy doing it together,” Mike Miserendino said. “All of our customers are friends; we all get along. It’s a very unique feel. It’s special, to be honest.

“It’s a family, and we have fun. We joke that the racing is kind of a bonus, although we do take it very seriously. It’s just fun. We get to do it together, and that’s why we still do it.

“I know for a fact that if I wasn’t racing, my dad would have quit a long time ago. He still competes because we do it all together.”

The two Spec Racer Ford classes will be among the most competitive during the Runoffs, which are taking place at IMS for the first time. There are 101 cars entered in the Spec Racer Ford 3 class and 50 in the Spec Racer Ford class.

Spec Racer Ford draws large car counts for two main reasons. One, SCCA introduced the class in 1984, so there is a large inventory of cars, parts and expertise available in the United States. Two, all of the main components of the car are sealed, so success depends primarily on car setup, driver skill and racecraft, not advantages purchased through bigger budgets.

“It’s cool for us amateur racers to come to the hallowed ground and race at Indy,” Mike Miserendino said.

Even if it takes an 8,000-mile round-trip journey to do it.

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