While many sports car racing drivers are able to put their sole focus on their careers, Frankie Montecalvo is one of several in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship that have been juggling racing with a full-time job outside of motorsports.
Montecalvo, who drives the No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, is the Chief of Field Operations at Bayshore Recycling, his family’s growing business that serves as one of the largest recycling facilities in the Northeast.
The New Jersey-based company, founded by his parents Valerie and Frank in 1995, consists of nine recycling operations within the 58-acre facility, where Montecalvo plays a hands-on role with on a daily basis.
“I get good news, bad news non-stop, generally more the bad news when something goes wrong and I have to come in and make key decisions to try and get something up and running or make some changes on the fly,” he told Sportscar365.
“I’m only 29 years old but literally having the experience growing up and just being there… People look at me like I’m a little young in the business sometimes but it comes naturally.”
Having been in his current position at Bayshore for the last five years, Montecalvo has successfully continued to pursue his passion in motorsports.
He won the Pirelli World Challenge GTA championship in 2015 and competed in PWC and selected IMSA races before making the full-time switch to WeatherTech Championship competition last year with the AVS Lexus squad.
“When I first started racing I was younger,” Montecalvo explained. “I didn’t have as many responsibilities back then and I was mainly able to focus on the racing side.
“That gave me the ability to do both but really focus on something that was new, and that was to try and get up to speed in racing at the highest levels, faster.
“Now that I’ve been working so much more over the last five years, while also racing, I’m getting experience in both and it’s becoming a lot easier.”
Montecalvo said work life has forced him to make some sacrifices, particularly in recent weeks, as he’s continued his 9-5 job amid the coronavirus pandemic, as recycling is deemed an essential service.
“I’ve really wanted to do some of these sim races but everyone stuck at home has been able to practice non-stop,” he said.
“For me, I get home sometimes at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and to run over to the sim and do some hours on that, it makes it a little more challenging [to be competitive].
“I do really love both. Racing by no means is on the back burner because it’s a passion of mine but so is the company.
“You learn so much in racing. Now mentally preparing for anything, as racing is an intense environment, when you get into a bad situation, especially in work, it doesn’t really seem that intense.”
Montecalvo on Front Line in Facility Fire, COVID-19 Crisis
One exception to that, however, came in December when a six-alarm fire ravaged through its paper recycling facility and offices. Nobody was injured.
Montecalvo was in California at the time taking part in co-driver Townsend Bell’s ‘AVS Training Camp’ along with teammate Jack Hawksworth, and had to take a redeye flight back to Newark to manage the situation.
“I got back there, I think 5 a.m. and the fire was still pretty much active,” he said.
“I got a car right to the scene of the fire and basically hopped into a machine and was moving flaming material out of the building all through Monday into Tuesday morning. It was like a 24-hour stint.
“We couldn’t go into the building because it was flaming but me and a couple of other employees that had a lot of experience with the machines — my father was on one of them — were just pouring out the material that was smoldering and on fire.
“The fire department was outside with the fire hoses putting stuff out.
“It was definitely an emotional time for my father especially. He’s a person that started this entire business with my mother. They put so much heart and soul into it, building the facility to make it what it is today.”
While back up and running, Montecalvo said the company “hasn’t really skipped a beat” during the ongoing health crisis.
“The only good thing that came out [of the fire] was that [the office] had to work remotely,” he said.
“Basically, our office and a lot of our departments that lost their divisions had to do this in December so now we just kind of took a couple steps back and already had it going.
“It wasn’t that big of a switch for them to get that up and going.”
New Jersey has been the second hardest-hit state with confirmed COVID-19 virus cases, with Montecalvo confirming that additional safety measures have been put in place company-wide.
“The truck drivers, the equipment operators, the people that are working on the line for sorting, it’s changed a little bit for them, in having to be more aware,” he said.
“These are people you work with every single day, so you really want to look out for them and look out for their families because you don’t want to bring it home, especially having to continue [operations] when everyone else is [sheltering-in-place].”
Montecalvo, who has been forced to cancel his wedding that was scheduled for June due to the pandemic, says he can’t wait to return to the wheel of the AVS Lexus, whenever that may be.
“I think racing is mentally challenging, so when you escape and get into a race car you really have to shut down everything that’s in the outside world… business, family, any problems you’re having,” he said.
“It’s an out, which I think a lot of other drivers would probably agree with, that you can just tune everything out, enjoy the machine and the sport and be able to compete against other top-level drivers and manufacturers and go for wins.”