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'Tween Kart-Racer Speeds Through the Fast Lanes

Do not confuse go-karts with those Little Rascals-esque plywood toys on wheels. Tazio Torregiani , an unassuming 12 year-old with race cars in his blood, is way beyond such child's play.

Tazio's professionally manufactured if diminutive racecars, known in racing circles as "karts," are the real thing. Which means they go very fast, something eminently appealing to him. "What I like most about racing," says Tazio, "Is the thrill you get going 60 miles per hour."

His father Patrizio himself has a thirst for speed. Once a racecar driver, he is now a sales specialist and Internet manager at New Country Porsche in Greenwich. Patrizio was captivated at an early age by his father's Porsche 911 in Rome, Italy, where he grew up.

The Torregiani family lives a traditional life in Stamford -- but for the driveway's permanently residing trailer that houses Tazio's two racing karts. Tazio, who has a 10 year-old brother, Dario, plays soccer and does his homework just like any other pre-teen boy. The difference, however, is in his far-from-regular weekends. Tazio trains and races year-round both regionally and nationally on tracks as near as Englishtown, NJ and Mount Kisco, NY, and as far away as Daytona Beach, Fla. But he manages to keep focused on the track while staying ahead of his schoolwork. "Karting is hard physically and mentally," he says.

Tazio began racing at the age of six. His family was vacationing in Portugal (where Tazio's mother grew up) and the family visited an outdoor kart track. Tazio's talent was soon realized. "He just stepped on the gas and took off," Patrizio recalls. "He was a natural. As we were watching him lap the track the owner asked me how long Tazio had been driving. I told him it was his first time, and he told me I should get him a kart."

When they returned home, Patrizio did just that, and Tazio began racing -- and winning -- soon after. He's been successfully doing so ever since, flying along in races with up to 34 other karts, on tracks at upwards of 60 miles per hour. And if that doesn't exactly evoke Formula 1 , G-force-pulling speed, remember the open vehicle is just one inch off the ground and only five feet long. But that doesn't seem to bother Tazio. "The most challenging aspect of racing is when you are on the track, thinking of what your next move is and how you are going to execute it," he says. Tazio intends to race at Grand Prix New York this winter at select races on Sundays.

Patrizio says Tazio "doesn't just race casually, he takes it very seriously. He's very fast and very determined." And Tazio is resolute about steering his driving into professional echelons. "I want to be a Formula 1 driver," he states matter of factly.

"It was my wife's idea to name him after the great Tazio Nuvolari," says Patrizio, referring to Italy's " Flying Mantuan ," among the greatest Grand Prix drivers of all time.

Tazio has certainly gotten a head start in his race toward racing greatness. But for now, he looks forward to getting his learner's permit in a few years, just like any other 12 year-old kid.

Did your dad ever build you a go-kart? Did you have dreams of racing "real" racecars? Let me know.

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