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Drag race driver and businessman, Phil Castronovo dead at age 69

By TOM COYNE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A local racing legend has passed away. Phil Castronovo, along with his brother Fred, put Utica on the global drag racing map in the 1970s. Phil Castronovo died this past Saturday. Castronovo drove his Custom Body Shop Dodge funny car, known as the “Utica Flash”, to the 1971 World Championship.

Phil Castronovo started his drag racing career on the streets of East Utica, and then took his passion to local tracks, including the Utica-Rome Drag Strip. The Castronovo brothers went national in the late 60s, building Dodge and Plymouth based funny cars. 40 years ago this month, Phil Castronovo broke through to the highest level of the sport, beating Jake Johnson to win the 1971 World Funny Car Championship in Amarillo, Texas.

In 1985, Phil was inducted into the NHRA Drag racing Hall of fame.

When his racing days were over, Phil Castronovo made his other passion his business – cooking. He opened a pizzeria and remained involved in the food business for years.

Phil Castronovo died on Saturday, October 15th at the Masonic Care Community. He was 69 years old.

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