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Formula Motorsports

My Pal Joey

By Michael Tashjian • March 5, 2015

The call came. Christmas for Joseph Bartone’s family, friends as well as myself, would be inalterably changed forever! The glib times we live in do not kindly stop for death. Possibly the reason for my own circumstantial defiance lies within the thought of death and curls the corners of my mouth! You see, I want everyone around me to live life large. When called, I’m available. When needed, I’m there. Joey shared in that belief! When a kindred spirit of mine is snatched away, through a horribly simplistic traffic accident, I hate life just a little more. Even the fittest among us survive for only so long. Applying it to words on paper, temper the unfairness we all must endure.

The appropriateness of my feeble attempt to encapsulate Joey’s existence in this journal of Porsche people can only be viewed as one car guy missing another. Yes, Joey was, is, a car guy, as we, who read about him are labeled. Along with his brothers, Tony and Michael they lived cars. He and his family struggled and pulled themselves into a position of managing a burgeoning, tough, ever complicated business; more and more people tugging to get a piece of them, indeed get at them. The solitude of Joey’s opportunities in motor sports activities delivered the much needed relief valve that so many of us enjoy beyond the reach of work and responsibility.

Our lives crossed in the early years of the 90’s. My business had been established in Long Island City for 5 or 6 years, he and his family were consolidating their paving operations in the same zip code. Joey, as the car he drove, a red 78 911 Turbo, was in good shape and set a pleasing picture to one’s eyes. He later gigged as a drag motorcycle pilot along with driving (really drove) a bevy of exotics, doing some of the things everyone dreams about. But in his case there was much more to it than that. Our first encounter led us to drive his Turbo out onto the highways of NYC and bond like car guys are supposed to do-in the Big Apple. The words that came from him were always soft and well natured, never harsh or difficult to listen to, expectations always at the forefront of our conversation. He introduced me to Manducatti’s, a neighborhood Italian restaurant known throughout the city. He brought me to have the finest hamburger in existence at the “airport” diner near LaGuardia. We enjoyed each other. The good are NOT supposed to die young. Myself, as others, witnessed rays of sunshine as he spoke and warmed in his surrounding along with others fortunate enough to come in from the cold, a feeling which, sadly, too many sports car owners project. In retrospect, Joey never took, but gave. Joey embodied a wonderful sense of enjoyment, the continual constrictions of life faded when he was around. The introduction to his older brother, Tony was a giving from Joey. This act allowed myself the addition of a close friend and confidand which, as you know comes few and far between. Our last conversation centered on Joe’s desire to buy another Turbo, a decision which would have moved him back from the army of automotive acolytes and embrace Porsche ownership, thereby rekindling our distant friendship. This irony was closed by the meting out of retributive disapproval in the machine, which took his life.

Irony can be used as a cudgel, as an enemy of subtlety, easy simplicity posing as meaning. It’s why teenagers enjoy it so much. So consider this a plea on behalf of the memory of Joseph Bartone, an appeal to have his name added to a roster of great, cool guy’s who remain remembered, not a momentary reaction equivalent to hustling past a figure surrounded by flowers attached to lines of people paying respect. To paraphrase that aphorism this is another favorite of adolescents: we are all of us subject to the inevitable occurrence of the excretal expletive, and it’s best to remember that no one gets out alive. The wages of everything is death. Sadder still, fewer of us than we care to imagine will expire with anything resembling the dignity we wish for. My thoughts remain for Joseph Bartone, taken from us this Christmas 2000AD, his children, loving wife, brothers and sister, mother and father. “Joey, I’ll meet you on the other side”.