30 JULY 2020 scca.comFEATURE
but by the time of the unexpectedfamily reunion, that magicmoment had yet to happen.
Chris, meanwhile, hadbeen so intrigued by his 1975
Indy 500 experience that he
persuaded the family to go back
in 1976 and 1977. “Our family
next went to the 1979 Trenton
IndyCar race, and my mom and
older sister ended up working in
Timing and Scoring,” Chris says.
“Later that year at Pocono,
they got me an introduction and
I ended up working in tech.”
By that time, Chris was
an engineering student at
the General Motors Institute,
eventually having quite a
successful career. A few years
into working at GM, however, he
finally tried his hand at racing.
In 1988, he attended a Skip
Barber School and competed
in Formula Fords in the Barber
Competition Series in 1989
and 1990. “I was always kind
of a thrill seeker,” he says. “I did
sky diving, bungee jumping,
parasailing. I loved it all.”
Yet neither Jeff nor Chris
knew this about each other. It
turns out, even at the family
reunion their love of racing
simply never came up.
THE AHA! MOMENT
A few months after the bigfamily reunion, Jeff saw a
15-year-old Formula Vee on
Facebook that was both nearby
and inexpensive. “My wife said,
‘We must buy it,’” Jeff says. Jeff
had also been looking into the
Challenge Cup FV Series where a
set of street tires lasts more than
At the end of the weekend,
Chris revealed his proposal:
he would sponsor Jeff to run
a full season of Formula Vee
in 2019, including attending
the National Championship
Runoffs. A few weeks later,
Jeff returned with his own
version of the plan. His old Vee
had just come up for sale – he
could buy it and they could run
the 2019 season together.
Chris was quick to attenda pro racing school to see ifhe could still handle a racecar,then he called to say he was in.
So, they were off to the races.
They didn’t hold back, doing13 race weekends leadingup to the Runoffs at VIRginiaInternational Raceway. Theyran U.S. Major Tour racesin the Northeast, ChallengeCup FV races, and severalNortheast FV Regional events.
“We say it’s like a madefor TV story,” says Chris.
“You can’t go back, [but]
we are determined to
make up for lost time.”
The story of Chris Caruso
and Jeff Filipkowski is far from
over – in fact, it’s primed to
get better. All along, the 2020
racing season was a planned
development year before going
full-bore in 2021, where the duo
will take a serious crack at the
2021 Runoffs at Indianapolis
Motor Speedway. “I can’t wait
to get there and run over that
yard of bricks,” Chris concludes.
“And now I can show my brother
Indy – he’s never been there.”
The big bang came when he
posted a photo of the car on
Facebook. Across the country in
Las Vegas, Chris perked up – he
couldn’t believe his eyes. What
was his newfound brother doing
with a racecar? He called Jeff
and they finally brought each
other up to speed on their
mutual sporting interest.
When Chris learned thatJeff was going to Watkins Glenfor an end of the 2018 seasonrace, he couldn’t help but hatcha plan. Chris flew in for theGlen race and surprised Jeffwith an in-person offer to crew.
That was just the beginning.
The newly-discovered family finallygathered (FAR LEFT), but the topicof racing didn’t arise that day. Onceit did, Chris Caruso (LEFT) and JeffFilipkowski (BOTTOM) wasted notime hitting the track together.