Skip to content

Remember the name Patrick Staropoli: Aspiring doctor by day, winning race car driver at night

Mar 29, 2014, 3:40 PM EST

Patrick Staropoli

So much has been said over the years about Ryan Newman being one of the first full-fledged college graduates to race in NASCAR.

And he has the sheepskin from Purdue University, touting his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, to prove it.

But Newman may soon be knocked off his lofty educated throne.

Remember the name Patrick Staropoli – you may soon be talking about and seeing him in NASCAR’s three pro series — well, after he completes a few more years of medical school.

You see, Staropoli isn’t just a race car driver, he’s also on track to become a full-fledged MD in a few years.

You can just hear it now on the radio or TV: “And starting on the pole for the Daytona 500, Patrick – uh, err, make that Dr. Patrick Staropoli.”

That’s right, a former honors student at Harvard (where his degree is in neurobiology), Staropoli is now in his second year of medical school at the University of Miami.

But his alter-ego – “The Racing Doc” sounds good – is also coming off a great run last weekend in the K&N Pro Series West race at Irwindale Speedway, about 30 miles away from Auto Club Speedway.

Staropoli not only competed in the race, he actually won the whole darned thing, as well (see video below).

In fact, in his first season on the K&N tour, the suburban Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native has finished no lower than 11th in the first four races (11th at New Smyrna, eighth at Daytona, sixth at Bristol and his March 22 cross-country triumph at Irwindale.

But perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Staropoli’s story is that he requested a semester away from school to do independent research for the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, as well as driving for Bill McAnally Racing, which is part of the Michael Waltrip Developmental Driver team.

“I shuffled everything around in my life, taking time off school,” Staropoli told NASCAR.com, which interviewed him a few days before the Irwindale event. “I subleased my apartment in Miami so I can spend time with my race team, started working on the cars and really immersed myself as much as possible.

“There’s definitely a lot of pressure to perform, but I feel like whether it was interviewing for Harvard or getting into med school, or now trying to make this happen on the racing side, I’m kind of used to it and up to the challenge.”

Ever since he first started racing go-karts in 2003, Staropoli has been nothing short of outstanding. Consider his outstanding overall racing record, including karts, Cyclones, FastKids, Fasttruck, Late Models and now K&N: 34 wins, 103 top-5′s, 127 top-10′s in 143 races.

Staropoli’s big break came last year when he outdistanced more than 6,000 entries in the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge, with the top prize being a one-race ride in a K&N Pro West Series race.

Shortly thereafter, he caught the eyes of Waltrip’s organization and Peak-sponsored Danica Patrick, which ultimately led to what has now been five K&N starts thus far in 2014 (and six overall in his career).

“PEAK thought this competition would be a cool way to meet some unique racers,” Waltrip told NASCAR.com. “I think we met one. It’s just really, really fun for me to see the results of this competition and we had a whole lot of people to chose from.

“There were four or five on the track whose skills were similar with Patrick, who was at the top of the class. But he just had something about him, just a glow, an energy, a respect and appreciation for it that made a difference for me.”

Patrick’s father Nick had a lot to do not only with his son’s decision to race, but also to become a doctor. For it was the elder Staropoli who was seriously hurt while competing himself in a crash in 2001 at Hialeah Speedway in the family’s native Florida.

Patrick, then 12 years old, saw his father’s wreck (the throttle stock on his race car, sending him head-on and full-speed into the racetrack wall). And after watching his dad go through four months of rehab, Patrick decided to become a doctor.

“I remember as a kid being in awe of the whole process,” Staropoli said. “That stayed in my mind. And now I’m at the very place learning medicine where they saved my dad’s life. Kinda weird how it’s all worked out.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Below are videos of Staropoli’s first win last week at Irwindale, followed by winning the Peak challenge.

 

 

 

 

<END>

Latest Posts
  1. Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Mar 1, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Here’s the final recap from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as pre-season testing comes to a close.

  2. Ferrari staying grounded despite strong pre-season display

    Mar 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Maurizio Arrivabene AP

    Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene calls for “concentration and discipline” at Maranello in the lead-up to the start of the 2015 season.

  3. Happy Birthday to reigning IndyCar champion Will Power

    Mar 1, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    Power a champion at long last. Photo: Getty Images Getty Images

    The Team Penske pilot turns 34 years old today.

  4. Maldonado ends testing in the wall after brake problem

    Mar 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    Maldoando 13a Getty Images

    Maldonado is still able to find the positives out of his final test run before the beginning of the 2015 season in Australia on March 15.

  5. Bottas: Reliability a key strength for Williams in 2015

    Mar 1, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Should Mercedes drop the ball in 2015, Williams could be the team to pick up the pieces and snatch a race win.

  6. Verstappen ready for F1 debut after “best pre-season ever”

    Mar 1, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Verstappen 13 Getty Images

    17-year-old will become the youngest driver in the history of F1 to start a race in Australia.

  7. James Courtney wins season-opening V8 Supercars feature in Adelaide; ex-NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose 12th

    Mar 1, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    V8 Supercars Clipsal 500 - Race 3 Getty Images

    Ambrose cracks Top 10 on feature grid, but fuel strategy hinders an otherwise decent run for him.

  8. Rosberg: Beating Hamilton in testing a “useful” edge

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EST

    Rosberg 13 Getty Images

    German driver posted the fastest time of winter testing in Barcelona on Friday.

  9. Simona de Silvestro completes Formula E show run in Geneva

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    © FIA Formula E © FIA Formula E

    With the ban on motorsport in Switzerland being lifted, the door has been opened to an ePrix in Geneva.

  10. F1 pre-season testing ends with Bottas fastest for Williams

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Attention now turns to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15.

  11. Allison pleased with Ferrari race pace in testing

    Mar 1, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Raikkonen 13 Getty Images

    Ferrari technical director says that the SF15-T is working as expected.

  12. Maldonado hoping to fight with Red Bull and Ferrari in 2015

    Mar 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Maldonado 13 Getty Images

    Maldonado confident Lotus has made a big improvement after miserable 2014.

  13. Boullier expects McLaren to be up to speed by Spanish GP

    Mar 1, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ESP-TEST-MCLAREN Getty Images

    Team racing director admits that it is behind schedule after a difficult winter.

  14. Lewis Hamilton explains decision to reject #1 for 2015

    Mar 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Three Getty Images

    British driver says that sticking with #44 means far more to him than having the number designated for the world champion.

  15. FR3.5: Facu Regalia signs with Zeta Corse for 2015

    Feb 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    © GP2 Media Service © GP2 Media Service

    Argentinian driver confirms his plans for the new season after a difficult 2014 with Hilmer Motorsport.

  16. Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Saturday

    Feb 28, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    Sainz 282a Getty Images

    A full round-up from the penultimate day of F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona.

  17. Vergne enjoys first Ferrari run-out in Adelaide show run

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    V8 Supercars Clipsal 500 - Race 1 & 2 Getty Images

    Frenchman joined the team as a test driver for the 2015 season.

  18. More birthdays: Aldo Andretti, Bourdais, Hawksworth, Bachelart, Minassian, Leitzinger, Liddell

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:11 PM EST

    BourdaisTOR12 AP

    Bourdais, Hawksworth, Aldo Andretti and more all have birthdays today, February 28.

  19. Hamilton: “It wasn’t a particularly spectacular day”

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    Hamilton 282a Getty Images

    Despite posting a time that, when adjusted to account for tire compounds, could be 1.4 seconds quicker than the rest of the field, the Briton was unenthused about his performance.

  20. UPDATED: #AirJosef: Newgarden dunks with Pacers Power Pack (VIDEO)

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    AirNewgy AP

    How well does Josef Newgarden dunk? Find out in video he does with Indiana Pacers “Power Pack.”