High school student 'races' to the top

Trumbull High sophomore Paul Buzel isn’t yet old enough to get his driver’s license, but at 15, he already has his NASCAR competition license and recently built a modified race car from the ground up.

“I guess I’ll be that know-it-all in the class,” he joked of driver education.

Paul knows he’ll have to take it slow on normal roads. In competition, he has gone as fast as 140 mph. He admits it takes a certain sense of fearlessness.

“When I’m driving I’m not thinking about that,” he said of fear. “I guess it takes some guts to race out there with 20 other guys when you’re going 120 mph.”

Car racing is not a typical sport. It is very technical and requires skills that take years to learn, hone and develop, said Paul’s father, George Buzel Jr. Paul started racing in quarter midgets at the age of 11 and competed at local racetracks in Connecticut and New Jersey, winning many feature races and track championships. Currently, he is competing at the Waterford Speed Bowl and Stafford Motor Speedway in the Modified Light division driving a 350-horsepower, 2,600-pound racecar at speeds over 120 mph.

“It’s a blast,” Paul said of driving. “There isn’t anything else like it.”

Car racing is in his blood.

“When I was very young, my dad worked on racecars at Danbury Fairgrounds,” Paul’s father said. “I raced in the quarter midgets.”

Buzel is an engineer and said his son also excels in science and math, skills he needed to build a racecar.

“When I was growing up I was always taught how to build things,” George said. “I wanted to teach him how to weld and fabricate and bend metal.”

Building a racecar is an exact science, and they started from scratch, getting help, when needed, along the way.

George Buzel admits there is a certain amount of danger in the sport, though safety has come a long way.

“My wife usually doesn’t breathe much when he [Paul] is out on the track,” Buzel said.

Competitions are a family event, with Dad, Mom and Paul’s sister helping him out. It’s usually an all-day event for one race.

In the last few years some big names have come out of Connecticut, and Paul hopes to be one of those someday.

“This is my passion,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

George Buzel said making it in the sport takes a lot of perseverance and self-confidence, as well as engineering knowledge. While Buzel knows his son has a unique talent, he admits he’s still a normal teen.

“He’s a typical 15-year-old boy. I still have to tell him to do his homework,” Buzel said.