Canterbury Alumni Spotlight: Dante Tornello ('14)

Dante Tornello has always embraced the value of confronting challenges—no matter the pit stops or hairpin turns that may lie ahead.

A proud Canterbury alum, Tornello joined the CSF community as he entered third grade. Raising a family of brothers who also attended the school, Tornello’s parents knew that providing a Canterbury education would be the best avenue to offer their children successful futures and promising opportunities.

Tornello credits his participation in chess club and the soccer team as impactful extracurriculars on his upbringing while at Canterbury. Chess club, he says, particularly offered him the chance to learn how to strategize, while playing soccer acted as a cornerstone for developing teamwork skills.

“In many ways, the environment at Canterbury was a key factor in learning my potential,” says Tornello. “Canterbury gave me the resources to get started on the path I call home today. It will always define who I am, and I’m thankful to have met many incredible people along the way.”

This past April, Tornello eagerly accepted the invitation to race in the Mazda MX-5 Cup race of the annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “Racing in the Grand Prix was an experience that words can’t describe fully,” shares Tornello. “To be there with my family and my team gave me the confidence to not give up.” While spending the weekend on the track, Tornello realized that a lifelong goal of his was to be on this very track in his own hometown. Knowing the streets and soaking in the familiar surroundings of the Albert Whitted Park area was an exciting, nostalgic feeling for the young racer.

 

Photo of Dante standing in front of a white Mazda car

Photo by Tampa Bay Times.

 

For Tornello, the road to professional racing started quite a while back. “As a very small child, I made some great memories growing up in an environment around racing,” he shares. “My dad raced in a vintage racing series called Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR). I remember going to Sebring International Raceway at age six and being too short to see over the walls of the pits. I was able to see Dad roaring by in his racecar, just his rear wing visible.” It was special moments like these that led Tornello to dream of racing at the professional level himself—one day leading him to the exhilarating, urban downtown circuit of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to do this as my career,” says Tornello. “If I were to give advice to a student who wants to follow the same path that I’ve pursued, I’d tell them to enjoy every moment on and off the race tracks and to also be your own mental coach. Make the most out of your learning by reading books about racing, specifically books on the physics and principles of racing.” 

Today a young man at 25 years old, Tornello looks forward to his bright future ahead and the goals he hopes to achieve. “My future goals have largely been focused on maintaining a sustainable pace of personal growth. This is a challenge at times when I need to work through tough situations, like learning to trust what I can achieve in a racecar. Being able to do what I do is an honor and a privilege. For that, I will always be eternally thankful.”

Tornello shares that the biggest lesson he learned during his years growing up at Canterbury is to never give up on your path. “The teaching staff and coaches all helped me learn my own strengths,” he says. “Even when things were tricky, either academically or competitively, the environment at Canterbury was one that pushed me forward regardless.”