When you have a true passion for racing, nothing can keep you out of the driver’s seat. And for 10-year-old Nathan Pagano, not even a serious vision impairment can deter him from pursuing his dream of becoming a drag racer.
Earlier this summer, Nathan clocked a 9.71-second pass at 71 mph on the 1/8th-mile Showtime Dragstrip in Clearwater, Florida — it was the result of years of hard work, preparation and support from his family and friends.
“The doctors said Nathan will never drive, but this is proof that you can do anything you put your mind to,” said Nathan’s father, Daniel Pagano. “Nothing’s impossible; it’s just a different path and timing.”
A fourth-generation drag racer, Nathan was diagnosed as legally blind from birth, but you’d never know thanks to the energy and fearlessness he’s gleaned from his older brother, Logan, who also races in a jr. dragster.
The brothers grew up spending time at the family business — Pagano Auto Detail Collision in Clearwater, FL — and it’s here that Nathan would make his first steps in getting comfortable with drag racing.
It began with Nathan in the driver’s seat of his brother’s old jr. dragster and his father pushing him around the shop without a motor.
Then Nathan graduated to being pushed down the dragstrip by a scooter (still only a bare chassis) just to make sure he could successfully make the turn-off to the return road. The next step was to install the motor and have dad ride beside him with the scooter.
Some of the challenges for the Pagano family were Nathan’s initial lack of confidence and focus, amplified by his need to compensate for his vision impairment. But with the thoughtful guidance of his parents and the requirement of good grades in exchange for racing privileges, Nathan has quickly matured and learned to hold his focus and attention on the important tasks at-hand.
As you can see in the video above, Nathan finally makes his first full-power run all by himself, and his parents couldn’t be more proud. He’s lucky to have so much support from his family and plenty of good role models to look up to in the racing community.
Nathan’s adventure continues as he will be entering his very-first competition in the Thanksgiving Turkey Bash at Bradenton Motorsports Park on November 25th. Come cheer on Nathan if you’re in the area!