I became a father 14 months ago at the ripe age of 36 11/12. It’s a feeling and role I’m still getting used to. It’s made me think a lot about being a man, what it means to be a provider and protector and what I want to teach my son Oliver. I’ve also found myself thinking a lot about my dad.
I started a new job shortly after becoming a father, working for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series. This is an interesting connection, considering my father spent over 25 years working in motorsports, including Formula One, CART, IRL and more. I’m so proud of the work he did.
Sal Incandela (my dad) has always been a humble, quiet man to me. I feel like I inherited a lot of my personality from him. We’re also both very driven, hard working and filled with big dreams.
His big dreams took him all over the world. They took him from France to England (where he met my mum). In England he balanced the career of being a mechanic in Formula One, a devoted family man, an author – The Anatomy & Development of the Formula One Racing Car from 1975 – and somehow found time to build me a bicycle from scratch.
My parents next dream came in the American form, where my dad was hired to work in US racing with Bobby Rahal. Even as a kid, most of my family was pro-US – my dad, even my Grandfather were big fans of the States. We moved when I was 12. Yee haw.
My dad had an incredible motorsports career – working with some great people, becoming a team owner, winning races & championships and along the way, treating people with kindness. Both my mum and dad, throughout their years in racing, treated people they worked with like members of our family. I recall countless Thanksgiving, Christmas and other dinners with members of the racing community – a mechanic, an engineer, a race driver – they were always around, usually eating pasta. This was a testament to my father’s passion and love of the sport and his capacity to care for others.
Now I work in racing. And at race events, I sometimes catch a glimpse of someone I knew when I was younger, or worked with my father, or ate spaghetti bolognese at our house. It makes me proud to call my dad, Dad.
Without saying a lot, my dad has taught me a lot about being a human and father.He’s taught me to think big and dream. He’s taught me to treat others with kindness. He’s taught me to be an adventurer. He’s taught me that the father/son bond is incredibly strong. He’s taught me to be brave.
I’m still new as a father and I make mistakes constantly. There are times when I’m scared. There are times when I’m frustrated. But I know where I’m headed. And I’m so proud that my dad continues to help me – whether he knows it or not. That’s love.
Thank you Dad.
A few more images I scanned below.
Your dad sounds like one cool dude. I just ordered his book.
Very nicely written Daniel. More things I did not know about you. Thank you for sharing. Fatherhood is an amazing privilege.
btw, have you checked out Rules for my Unborn Son?
You bought tears to my eyes. But what you said about your dad and mum is so very true. They opened up their home to Hideki and I and made us feel like part of the family!
I have many fond memories that I won’t ever forget. Even being privileged to go to your wedding! I’m positive you’ll be as good as a dad
Thanks for sharing something so personal!
We met your Dad. He is a kind man. You are truly blessed. Your story reminds me of my folks and a great childhood. Thank you for sharing.
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Daniel, I had the pleasure of meeting your father when I first became a CART Tech Observer – years ago.. when he brought Emerson Fittipaldi’s car into the inspection area at the Cleveland Grand Prix and when I went to do an under carriage measurement, he bent down and made a comment about seeing the car from a whole new angle… He probably spent 10 or 15 minutes answering questions I had asked him without ever being in a hurry to get back to the car. Looking back I probably shouldn’t have wasted his time with my novice questions, but he was ever a gentleman and never made me feel stupid. For an 18 year old girl new the racing community and a male dominated sport, I was very grateful that he was one of the first persons I met. We spoke at more races over the next few years, and I always have fond memories of our talks or even just the passing hellos at the tracks.
I have a few pictures I’d like to share with you if you’d like to email at the address I added. Thanks for your very personal comments above, your dad is amazing and I hope he has as many fond memories of racing as he gave to the racing world.
Daniel… sorry for the error above, I mentioned your dad bringing Emerson’s car to the tech area, but that was an error on my part I do not believe that was the team he was with..the pictures I have are from a few seasons later when he was with Monarch Sponsored team, pictures were taken at Mid-Ohio sports car Course. Sorry for the error, I’ve been looking at a lot of old photos this week…
I knew your Dad when we raced against each other in Formula 2. We worked together as well at Surtees if I remember well. We always had a lot of fun and then spent time again when we competed against each other in Indy Lites in this country. My deepest sympathy to your family.He will be much sought after up there for his racing prowess!! Alister McNeill
We worked with your Dad during his time in F1 at McLaren.
It is sad that the news of his death has just reached us but Sal was really one of a kind. He was a big part of one of the best McLaren crews to grace that company. We were talking about that era, and Sal, just a week or so ago.
He was quiet but very funny when he chose to be. There are far too many instances when Sal ‘starred’ to mention but his Spaghetti, made for the entire crew, was a dream, although most of it seemed to be on the kitchen walls. He won the Keno at Breakfast when we were in Las Vegas for the F1GP and shared (eventually) the winnings around the team. He managed to put a drill bit through his knee when he was drilling into a bit of metal, using his knee as a workbench at the Swedish F1 GP in the late ’70s.
Please accept our condolences on the passing of an old friend….and your dear Father.
Bob & Shaune McMurray (now from Auckland New Zealand)
i was your dads roomy in 1978 at Mclaren we used to go out eating together allways in the most economical places!, we got on well together as we both had young families to bring up ,quite often we would work late at Mclaren so we could have time with our families,i had a lot of respect for Sal ,i had a bad motorcycle accident while i was at Mclaren and that cut short our friendship i only wish we could have stayed in touch more ,you are a great credit to him and i am sure you will look after your family like he did ,please keep in touch .Ron Pellatt
Sal Incandela gave me my first job in professional racing with his newly started team, Indy Regency Racing, in 1991. I learned a lot in those first years of racing. Sal had high expectations for his small team. He led us ‘strongly’, to work hard, be prepared, and to be competitive. He also always seemed to know when we could use that little bit of positive encouragement to keep us ‘fighting’ with our chins up.
We always knew that things were good when Sal would fix us a batch of his world class spaghetti. I can still see Sal ‘beaming with pride’ when we would come to him begging for another plateful!
I truly felt like part of the Incandela family when I worked for Sal. I even spent several months sleeping in the basement bedroom of their family home during one off-season.
Lesley, Dan, Chantal, and Stephanie I am truly sorry that Sal has passed. The opportunity he me gave resulted in what has become my career for the past 20 years.
Sal will always be a very important part of my life.
[…] taking a break. In the meantime, you should get to know my dad, Sal Incandela. He was a good guy and I looked up to him. How do I get that […]
We just met with Stephanie a few weeks ago for dinner when she came down from Chicago, then early the morning of the 8th I received her surprising e-mail telling me about your Dad It was such a sad start to my day, but one full of all the memories of having your family as neighbors all those years in Clermont. Then everyone grew up, moved, went to school, etc. and the last time I saw your parents was Christmas 2005, just after Todd and I married. They came up from LV for the holidays and stopped by my parent’s place. It was so good to see them again, and in spite of the years away, it was just like we’d seen each other yesterday as we talked and caught up on things with them. Your Mum and Dad were the only people who called me “Norma Kay” and I can still hear your Dad saying it. I count it a blessing to have known Sal just a little bit.
[…] is not the end. I originally wrote this post while my dad was alive for my son Oliver. I’m so glad I did. I think my dad loved Oliver more […]