Joe Catania races in the Mazda MX-5 Cup at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Families Race: The Catanias

What happens when a father with a love for sports cars, a just-turned-16 son and a concern for that son getting in over his head with those sports cars come together? First a session at the Skip Barber Racing School; then, perhaps, a lifelong obsession.

“Lucas had just turned 16. I had a couple of sports cars and didn’t want him getting hurt, taking the cars out when I’m at work, so I said, ‘let’s go to Skip Barber and take a class and see what it’s like to drive fast.’ Well, when I tell you we had a hoot of a time – I think I had more fun than the kids – we had a blast. We laughed the whole time. I said, ‘This just can’t end like this. We have to do this again.’ We started looking around for other opportunities.”

That led them to the Monticello Motor Club and eventually Spec Miata in SCCA and then the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich® Tires. For Lucas, it’s the perfect steppingstone to a pro career if life should take him that direction (he’s working on his Biochemistry degree at Hobart College, with a premed option in case he wants to follow in his physician father’s footsteps as a fallback plan). It’s competitive, evenly matched, and inexpensive, he notes. Most important, he and his father can both race in the series.

“If we couldn’t do it together, I don’t think we would do it at all,” says Lucas. “That’s how it all started and the relationship my dad and I have is super unique. We use each other to push each other to the next level constantly, whether it’s on the track or off the track. MX-5 Cup allows us to do it together.” And, Joe adds: “The off-track time together is really priceless. It truly is an opportunity I wish more dads and sons would have. We’re sort of in the trenches doing battle together, and there’s no bond tighter than two soldiers marching together.”

The pair run under the Atlanta Motorsports Group awning, with sponsorship from New York Spine & Wellness. Lucas sits fourth in the championship after four races, with a best finish of fourth in Round 3 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s a good start to the season for someone with intent to reach higher in motorsports.

“It’s easy to say we have other aspirations beyond this,” says Lucas. “Obviously I’d like to advance my career to the highest level possible. At the same time, this is such a unique opportunity. I want to make sure I’m enjoying the whole experience of being able to do this, and not forget the reason we started this is just to have fun. Absolutely I’d love to take it to the next level, be racing at Le Mans one day or in the 24 Hours of Daytona. This is a step in the right direction, and Mazda’s been huge to help young drivers to get out into the racing world and help us get the notoriety from other teams.”

While the Catanias enjoy racing together, they don’t really have to worry about racing together, and the possible consequences of an on-track, father-son battle.

“Lucas is faster, period,” says Joe. “I would tell you my love for him as a son is stronger than my love to beat him. We have fun many times, and if I have an opportunity to pass him, I will; but it’s a long race and I’m not going to hold back his finish because I got by him. We’ve done a few endurance races, and that’s our opportunity to drive together as a team, and I hope we can do that more often.”

Look for the Catanias at the next round of he Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich® Tires at the Houston Grand Prix, June 27-29.

Lucas Catania leads a group of competitors at Mazda Raceway.