by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- In Drew Monti's mind, there was no way he wasn't going to complete a unique daily double last Saturday (May 21).
His commencement ceremony from Canisius College in Buffalo was scheduled at 12:30 p.m. and he was slated to drive in eight events at Buffalo Raceway starting at 7 p.m. With college graduations tending to drag on and many photos to be taken after wards, there was a chance Monti might have to take the night off in the sulky.
Not a chance.
Wearing the blue and gold cap and gown of Canisius College, Monti happily and proudly accepted his Bachelors in Economics diploma, took plenty of pictures and spent time with family, friends and well-wishers. He then made it to Buffalo Raceway where he donned his racing colors of brown, gold and white with plenty of time to spare.
"I knew a long time ago that graduation was on a Saturday and initially I figured I wouldn't drive that night," Monti said. "But then after thinking about it for a bit, I knew that I could do both. There wasn't a chance I was going to miss my college graduation. None. It's a once in a lifetime thing. At worst I figured I might miss the first few races."
So after four years of juggling his schedule with school, studying, working in the barn and driving, figuring out his graduation day events was a breeze. He actually made it to the track around 4:45 p.m., plenty of time to race in all three qualifiers.
"After graduation, my friends thought I was out of my mind to drive that night," Monti said. "But I am committed to driving every night and to the people who give me the opportunity to do so. I guess not driving never crossed my mind really."
Monti stated before that he used to, on occasion, daydream in class about that night's card. He basically blocked out racing during the graduation ceremony admitted with a chuckle, "Racing that night after graduation was in the back of my mind."
Drew finished the night with one victory aboard Bettor Design ($6.30) along with a second and four third place finishes. "I wish I could have done better but it wasn't a bad night."
|Monti drove Bettor Design to win on Graduation Day|
Getting an education was always a priority for Drew. "I could be winning eight races a night but there was no way I was ever going to drop out college. My parents were never going to let that happen and I wasn't going to let it happen either."
Drew was especially happy to see his Uncle Dan (Monti) at the graduation ceremony. "I'm his only nephew and he's a doctor in Philadelphia. He pointed me in the right direction academically and was the biggest influence on me academically."
It was a tough grind for Monti the past four years. With school five days a week, racing three to four nights a week along with working in the barn on off days, there was little free time. "I never had a set schedule. I tried to keep up on my school work and do it when I could. A break here, a break there, a cancelled class. Every day was a little different and it was a challenge."
He handled the hectic schedule well as his final grade point average (GPA) will be in the 3.2 range.
While Monti will continue to find a seat in the sulky, his diploma won't be sitting collecting dust on the mantle. He's already landed a job with Buffalo Financial Associates and starts in about a month.
"They (Buffalo Financial Associates) have absolutely no problems with me working for them and driving at night," the 21-year-old Monti said. "It's a good job and I can take it as far as I want to. It's going to be nice to have two incomes."
And while he's starting a new job, he's also in the thick of the Buffalo Raceway driving championship race. Jim Morrill Jr. leads the way with 71 victories while Todd Cummings is next with 69 and Monti third with 60.
Now he's in search of a Pick-3...graduating college, landing a great new job and winning the Buffalo Raceway driving title.
With the determination, commitment and pride Monti has shown thus far in his young career, it is extremely possible.
Photos by Steve Roth