Nostalgia Super Stock Inc. - Driver Profile - Mike Cicciarelli
By Bob Wilkiewicz
Nostalgia Super Stock Inc. Staff
Somewhat adapting the idea of a man for all seasons, you could say Mike Cicciarelli is at least a man for two seasons - present and past.
With one career foot in current Indy car racing as a suspension engineer, formerly for Chip Ganassi and now for KV Racing, Cicciarelli has his other foot firmly in NSS racing with his 1966 ‘(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ Ford Fairlane.
“Modern racing has, of course, lots of high technology; we use computers for everything and the materials, such as carbon fiber, are exceptional,” said Cicciarelli. “But automotive knowledge and experience in general are still very helpful. “On the nostalgia side, I try to keep the high tech understated and stay with the original intent.”
More than intent, one proof that Cicciarelli does what he says is the fact he rows his Fairlane the drag strip with a 4-speed, so make that two feet and a right arm. Another proof is his towing rig, an open trailer behind a SUV-style truck.
His parents owned a 1967 Fairlane, starting Cicciarelli’s interest in the model. A meticulous planner, he is also an patient performer and eventually gets exactly what he wants. He purchased ‘Satisfaction’ in 1982, started the first construction tasks in 1983, finished in the late 1990’s and joined the club in 2000.
“In the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, the FE’s were performance kings,” he said. “I went to Cordova and Byron and got to see the real Super Stock cars run. That lit the wick for me. There’s nothing more desirable than seeing a 427 Fairlane run down the strip.” After starting out with 12-second passes, ‘Satisfaction’ now sails down the strip in nine seconds flat.
“We have made a lot of progress, come a long way,” Cicciarelli said. “The chassis was built in a shop with a sawzall and MIG welder. It’s a testament to what we worked with and the ways things were done back then. “As much as possible, we try to fabricate things with the old basic materials but at the same time we have access to modern knowledge. I have a big appreciation for the old stuff.”
Statements like this show another side of his complete package. In addition to his engineering expertise, Cicciarelli also well understands and appreciates the intangible parts of the sport, the history and the showmanship. And that gratitude extends to his driving style.
“I owe a lot to (fellow club member) Larry Quinn,” said Cicciarelli. “He’s been a big influence in not only how to build a nostalgia car but in how to put on a show. I admire him very much for that. He ends up elevating everyone else. “The way he drives, he never holds anything back, he goes 110 percent. And he also enjoys helping other racers improve their cars.”
Regular eight-second runs aren’t necessarily a goal but are likely inevitable for Cicciarelli. “I’m confidant now we have a reliable drivetrain; the emphasis will be to make the car lighter,” he said. “Being able to perform with 95 percent efficiency instead of 85 percent, that’s the way. I’m optimistic in the potential. I like having a car that runs faster than it looks.”
On the car’s deck lid, Cicciarelli has written the Top 10 reasons why race cars should have manual transmissions. One is that changing gears by foot and hand, “makes me smile.” What are the other nine? You’ll need to come to the track and read them for yourself.
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