Joe Brienza: Sharing What it Takes to Go Pro


Ansley Schnelle, Contributor

From the outside, sophomore Joe Brienza might seem like the average 16 year old. But besides just managing to finish homework and study for that AP World History test, he is a professional athlete; living a busy life with big goals ahead.

Joe has been racing Go Karts for six years and has been racing professionally for two. Being a professional means that he gets paid for placing high in his races, and is exposed to many opportunities for sponsorships.

Joe never lets the pressure of having sponsors (including Freem and UBS) get to him. Joe says, “When I race, I don’t focus on how I have to perform super well for a sponsor. I focus on performing the best that I can. I know my capabilities, and I know that if I do the best that I can, the sponsors will come, and my sponsors I have now will be happy.”

Being a professional athlete at such a young age has been made possible by Joe’s dedication and commitment. In order to get to the level he is at today, the world traveler had to miss a lot back at home when he was growing up. 

Busy competing all over the country and in Europe, Joe admits, “I’ve missed a lot of birthday parties when I was younger, I’ve missed Easters with my family, Halloween, and the fourth of July. I’ve missed my dad’s birthday a few years, and I’ve missed my mom’s birthday once.”

Aside from missing birthdays and holidays, Joe also has had to sacrifice the most time with his family when he moved to Italy to pursue some amazing racing opportunities. 

Describing this unique experience, Joe says, “I was 13 at the time, and I was living with people I knew for maybe two weeks. I got basically dropped in the lion’s den, and had to hit the ground running. I had to actively learn the language, figure out a workout plan for me, I had to figure school out, and all this time I was racing every other weekend.”

Every few months, Joe would come back to Colorado to visit his family. “I went home for a week or two to say hi to my mom, and to tell my school I was still alive. That was a fun conversation to have. I had to say hi to my grandparents, and do some other things at home before I went back.”

Needless to say, Joe has already accomplished and experienced so much, only at the age of 16. This only makes his plans for after high school all the more attainable.

“The goal would be to race cars professionally. If I can get paid to race any car, I’d be happy. Obviously, my goal is IndyCar, but if it ends up not being that and I’m still getting paid and I’m still racing, then I’ll for sure enjoy it. That’s the main plan.” 

The class of ‘23 might just have a future IndyCar racer among them. A racer whose 16 years have created a fascinating career; and the best has yet to come.