GTA Drivers’ Champion Frankie Montecalvo has finished second in the prestigious 24H of Dubai race. Montecalvo along with Adam Christodoulou, Oliver Webb, and Oliver Morley piloted the No. 16 Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT finished first.

Read below a feature on Montecalvo from the Two River Times:

HIGHLANDS – There’s no doubt about it. Frankie Montecalvo loves his hometown. And now that he’s the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTA Driver’s Champ, he continues to be proud to say he first learned to drive here. And though he’s traveled pretty much around the world racking up points and trophies, he still says Highlands is the best place to come home to.

At 24, Montecalvo, son of Frank and Valerie Montecalvo, entered the final round of the Champion battle 195 points ahead of the second place GTA driver. That’s when he knew the trophy was his and he was able to enjoy a less stressful weekend and experiment with the setup of his Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The win came after 20 rounds at 11 different iconic circuits across the United States for the DragonSpeed Racing Driver.

“Still,” he said in an interview this week, “I can’t even believe it. I had really high hopes coming into the season this year, but never imagined it would have been this good, and that we would be able to actually seal the championship an entire race before the final round. It’s been a great way to come into the series.” He’s also happy since his teammate, Eric Lux, who finished first at Laguna enabled the team to end the season with a DragonSpeed 1-2 finish.

Montecalvo said being brought up on the water influenced his decision to race because it gave him the ability to “go quick at any time. I got my boating license very young and was fortunate enough to be able to use that as my gateway to racing.”

If the truth be known, it started way before that. Back when Frankie was 2 or 3, his parents got him a go-cart for Christmas. He discovered it in the garage before the big day and he immediately started crying. “My father had put blocks on it because I was too little to reach, and I cried because I thought I’d have to pedal it!”

After that, it was jet skis, boats, dirt bikes, motocross, drag racing, a 1973 green Camaro, and a lifelong thrill for speed and endurance. Frankie, who went to Our Lady of Perpetual Help grammar school and St. John Vianney High School, skipped his high school graduation ceremony in order to race at Watkins Glen.

And it’s been an almost meteoric rise since that racing debut. Montecalvo partnered with pro-driver Gunnar Jeannette, and the duo snagged two top-10 finishes. He then went on to participate and place in a laundry list of races.

?Montecalvo receiving his trophy for the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTA Driver’s Championship.
?Montecalvo receiving his trophy for the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTA Driver’s Championship.
In 2012 Montecalvo and Jeannette teamed up for a WEC campaign in a Ferrari 458, making his debut at the prestigious 24 hours Le Mans in France. By 2013, the Montecalvo/ Jeannette team, in the #51 RAM Racing Ferrari 458, made it four times to the top in the European LeMans Series.

Back in the states, the team took honors several times, finishing the 2014 season with a third place finish at the prestigious Petit Le Mans.

Now in his fifth season of racing, Montecalvo is humble and appreciative of his victories, sharing honors with everyone around him. “I can’t thank my DragonSpeed team and teammates enough for giving me such a consistent car weekend after weekend and for all of the support throughout the season,” he said. “And the same goes to my parents, family, friends and sponsors. I couldn’t have done it without the love and support from each and every one of them.”

A major sponsor of the Dragon Speed team is Bayshore Recycling, the family-owned business his parents started on a shoestring and grew to one of the most dynamic and vertically integrated recycling facilities in the United States. Termed the “Mega-Mall of Recycling” by the NJ DEP and US , the facility recycles everything from concrete from parking lots to consumer electronics like computers and televisions. When he’s not on the road, Frankie is there with his parents and sister Nicole doing whatever has to be done at the facility. When he’s in the racecar, the name Bayshore Family of Recycling is emblazoned across the front of his vehicle and his shirts as one of his many sponsors.

With this season behind him, Montecalvo is already looking towards next year when he will be racing in the European Le Mans series in a LMP2 Class with Dragon Speed Racing based out of Florida, a plan that includes racing in seven different countries. He’ll be teaming up with Henrik Hedmund and another driver, and said that while it’s been a couple of years since he raced in the ELMS, “I’m excited to get another opportunity to race in that championship and especially in an LMP2 car.”

Unmarried and still living in Highlands, Montecalvo readily admits racing is still a risky business, but is quick to point out that safety and motorsports have come a long way in the last 10 years. While there are still tragedies in a sport where speeds go upwards of 200 mph, many safety measures are being created to prevent future tragedies. Racing is a mental sport, he explains, noting the stress of knowing not only where you the driver is at, but also who are the drivers around you, whether they are new or experienced, dare devils or practical. It’s important to trust your mechanics, he added, an advantage he has, he says, with the team with whom he works. It’s important for a driver to have determination, too, he stressed, and to be able to hone the skills of driving. He laughs when he admits it was his mother who first taught him how to drive a stick shift while his dad taught him the mechanics of a vehicle. Today, after seeing a horrific crash involving Frankie… one he walked away from because of safety features in the vehicles… he said his mom watches all the preliminaries, but “when the race starts, she has to look away.”

“I just can’t stress enough how great it was being a part of the Pirelli World Challenge Championship this year. Being able to run with some of the older, more experienced guys in the GT Class was such a great learning experience, and I‘m truly honored to say that I was able to race with those guys.”

The thrill of European racing in 2016 is hampered just a tiny bit by Montecalvo’s love of a racing presence in the United States. “GT racing here in America is something I want to continue doing for as long as I can. Even without current plans to race here next year, I’m hoping I’ll be able to race in a couple of U.S. races, or maybe even a full season. Until then, I’m going to enjoy a little time back at home with my family and friends, but I’ll definitely be looking forward to getting back to the racetrack.”