‘It’s my goal’: 15-year-old Christian Sangillo aims for Victory Lane

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Christian Sangillo is like most 15-year-olds in Farmville, studying for classes and hanging out with friends. However, where he’s different is that he races in the Hornets Division at South Boston Speedway and performing quite admirably at such a young age.

“I started racing when I was 14 and thought it was pretty cool,” said Sangillo, who naturally had butterflies the first time he got behind the wheel, even though racing has been in his family since the 1970’s.

“The first race, I was real anxious,” Sangillo said. “I actually didn’t race the first scheduled race and that second race I was pretty nervous.  I had never driven on a track before, so being out there with other grown men can be a bit scary.”

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Despite missing the opening race, Sangillo made 10 starts and had three Top 10 finishes.  His best finish was an eighth place effort on July 15.  Participating in the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division, which is largely for beginners, Christian finished in 12th place.

“I’m having fun out there, meeting people and talking to them,” Sangillo said.  “Working on cars and learning how to drive on the track has been a neat learning experience.  I’ve learned a lot of sportsmanship and also the mechanics of working on the cars.  

His uncle, Michael Penick of Michael’s Power Sports, built his cars.  To date, he’s had three different vehicles.

“My first car was a 2004 Honda Civic.  I blew the engine on that one and had to replace the engine,” Sangillo revealed.  “My second car was a 2002 Hyundai Accent.  My current car, which I haven’t raced yet, is a 2004 Acura RSX.”

Brought in by family 

In fact, it was Christian’s cousin and teammate, fellow teenager Jordaine Penick, who got him into racing.  Jordaine also races at South Boston Speedway, where she finished sixth in the points in her second year of competition after placing eighth as a rookie.

“By the time he got down to the last three of four races of the season, he showed improvement,” remarked Joe Chandler, Media Director at South Boston Speedway of Sangillo.  “I’m looking for him to show even more improvement this coming season.”

It’s a collaborative effort for Christian.  His godmother, Cheryl Penick, serves as his crew chief.  Christian also credits his mother, Nicole Sangillo, and sister, Lucy Sangillo, for spotting him on the track.  They videotape his races as well.

Additionally, Christian provided praise to the host of sponsors that have made it possible for him to race. He gets help from Mountain Creek Signs, which makes his stickers and decals. Tom’s Country Store, Davis GMC Trucks, Draper Auto Worx and Draper Heating & Cooling, all out of Farmville, also lend a hand, along with Michael’s Power Sports out of Keysville.

Christian Sangillo looks ahead

The first race for Christian in 2024 at South Boston Speedway is scheduled for March 23, with the last one set to go off in September.

Christian doesn’t plan to make this a career, but is enjoying the experience for the time being.  He is set to graduate from high school in May of 2025 and plans to attend Liberty University to get a bachelor’s degree in aviation with the plan of becoming an airline pilot.

“That’s my goal for the future,” noted Sangillo, truly appreciative of the opportunity he’s gotten on the racetrack. 

“Being out there, you spend a lot of time with family, meet new people and honestly it’s a great experience to not have your driver’s license and go 70 miles an hour,” Sangillo said.