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September 5, 2003

Dicandio Family Continues Racing Tradition, Young Alex following steps of grandfather, uncle and father

This is a reprint of a story that was in the September 3
edition of Florida Today. It tells the story of a three
generation race family in Brevard County.

By Jane Smith

Brothers Ron and Lynn Dicandio of Canaveral Groves grew up at racetracks, watching their father Mike rub fenders across Florida.

Now, Ron's son Alex is doing his apprenticeship and preparing to become the family's next racer.

Family patriarch Mike Dicandio began racing in the 1950s at Jacksonville Raceway and Lake City. Mike drove a 1946 Ford Coupe against all levels of competition including NASCAR legend Fireball Roberts.

His sons took copious mental notes while assisting their father and now have found success of their own on Central Florida speedways and hope Alex can continue the legacy when his time comes.

It's obvious the love for racing has been passed from father to sons to grandson.

"We lived in Green Coast Spring which is about 26 miles from Jacksonville when I began racing," Mike Dicandio said. "I owned my own repair shop so working on my car was easy. Ron and Lynn were little fellas but always right there, right under me no matter what I was doing. They learned at a very early age how to build a racecar.

"Ron was always johnny on the spot with his spray paint and a hammer to bang out the dents in the car, he liked my cars pretty. Even today, Ron takes great pleasure in having a pretty race car," Mike added.

"I sold my shop in Green Coast Spring and we moved to Cocoa but I no longer raced. I worked for Weekly Lumber which was out on U.S. 1 but is no longer there now. Every weekend the family and I would go to Eau Gallie Speedway to watch the races and every weekend I would tell my wife 'I sure would like to have one of those again.' The answer was usually 'no way,' but one weekend my wife did not answer and I built my first racecar for Eau Gallie Speedway as a car owner," Mike recalled.

Ron McCreay from Sebastian was Mike's first driver as a car owner and Mike ended his racing career with Dave McCabe as his driver.

"I had great success with both drivers as we raced at Eau Gallie Speedway until it closed and then we moved on to Vero Beach Speedway, Orlando SpeedWorld, New Smyrna Speedway and the old Lakeland track. Eventually, Vero Beach Speedway also closed so we just had Orlando, New Smyrna and Lakeland," Mike said.

"I put Ron in my car for the very last race at Eau Gallie Speedway and I knew he was hooked then for good. Ron drove my car for about nine weeks and then got his own," Mike said.

"Growing up in dad's shop taught me a lot about racing and how to build racecars. When Lynn and I were small, we were not allowed to go into the pits but when dad got the car home, we could be there for anything and everything he did," Ron Dicandio said.

"I began racing in the old bomber class and moved up to Super Stock. But I eventually bought dad's Late Model and in 1989 and 1990, I raced in Don Nerone's USA Stock Car Allliance out of the old Lakeland track. When Hooter's Cup bought out USA, my chassis no longer fit the rules and I could not run with them," Ron said.

In 2002, Ron ran full-time at New Smyrna Speedway in the Super Late Model division placing second in points for the season.

"That was a great season for us. Lynn helped me a lot and Alex learned a lot. In 2003, I began the season at Orlando SpeedWorld but had to quit when my car was wrecked," Ron said.

"My goal in 2004 is to run some of the Sunbelt Super Late Model races and go back to New Smyrna Speedway and win that Championship" Ron said. "This year I have helped Lynn with his modified at Orlando SpeedWorld and helped Alex get his Sportsman ready for racing."

Lynn does not live far from brother Ron, who owns a three-bay shop at his home in Canaveral Groves, and his dad, Mike.

Lynn also has his own shop at his home in Canaveral Groves.

"I work for WalMart in Titusville but I make time to work on my car and get it ready for Friday night races at SpeedWorld. I have not really had any sponsor help this year which I could use but my wife Jane did buy me a tire this year," Lynn said.

"I started racing after Ron did in a Street Stock at Orlando SpeedWorld. In 1998, I ran a Sportsman at New Smyrna Speedway and then switched to a Late Model the following year. But because of low car counts, Orlando SpeedWorld phased out the Lates and I was left with no racecar to race. It was either switch back to a Sportsman or move to a modified which is what I did," Lynn said.

This season, Lynn debuted his No. 20 red and blue modified at Orlando SpeedWorld.

"It took some getting use to for sure and then my handling was way off. But each week the car got better and now runs in the top five. My goal next season is to put a bigger motor in the car now that I have the handlling down," added Lynn in front of his shop.

Lynn currently runs fourth in points at Orlando SpeedWorld in the Open Wheel Modified division.

A few years back, Ron began the Racers Against Peer Pressure show for local elementary school kids. Both Ron and Lynn, plus a few other drivers from Brevard County, take their racecars to local schools and show the kids what racing can do in a youngster's life.

"I have grown up going to racetracks to watch dad and my uncle race," said Alex Dicandio, a student at Cocoa High School this year. "My dad and uncle have taught me everything about building a car and running a car and how hard and time consuming it can be. But I have always wanted to race and hopefully by the end of the year, I will have my Sportsman at Orlando SpeedWorld."

"I have worn out dad and Uncle Lynn with questions about stagger, loose, tight, all those things you need to know when you race and work on your car. And Grandpa is always there to help too," Alex said.

"Over and over again I have heard my dad say, "Winning isn't everything, it is how you play the game. You may get beat but taking someone out just because you can't pass them is not racing, rcing is running side-by-side, door-to-door, never touching but giving it your all and knowing you did the best you could. That is the kind of racer I want to be," Alex said.

Lynn and Alex are looking for future sponsors to help them when they race.

"Just sponsoring one tire a month or an entry fee for the night, that would help a lot. Racing is done on this level for fun but it does get expensive and it is always nice to have some help in that expense." said Alex, as his dad and Lynn shook their heads in agreement.

Ron, Lynn and Alex all agree that growing up around a racetrack and having that love deep inside you that only racing can give is a life long experience.

"The one good thing about racing is how the family stays together and does it together and the kids know that if you want to race you better stay out of trouble," Mike said.

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