Parker Kligerman's Big Adventure

Jordan Hollender
Parker Kligerman

ARCA now had a three-week break between events. Kligerman relaxed in Westport and golfed with friends. (He declined to reveal his scores.) He also traveled with Dana to attend orientation at UNC Charlotte, where he would be matriculating in August. Meanwhile, she started e-mailing me. Signing her witty messages Racermom, she narrated the family's story. Dana and Robert met at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Their idea of fun was an architectural tour of Manhattan or a European vacation. Their son Parker, born August 8, 1990, in Greenwich, Connecticut, has two older brothers, Land and Bard, and a younger sister, Madeline. The family moved from Stamford to Westport in 2001. Parker was the household's anomaly. "He slept with his arm around his model cars when he was little instead of stuffed animals," Dana wrote. At age eight, he found the Speed Channel and spent the next four years stalking her for a go-kart, daily giving reasons why he was meant to be a racing driver. Robert and Dana had launched a commercial real-estate business in the mid-1980s, were accumulating a modest collection of art, and couldn't have distinguished a go-kart from a land yacht.

For Christmas when he was twelve, Kligerman received a beat-up, black Coyote kart, purchased for $1200. Norwalk Karting Association president Ed Forcier recalled him arriving on race mornings the following season. "Parker turned the wrenches," Forcier said. "He wanted to learn. He was one of the few kids who really paid attention to what was going on. He always watched the more experienced drivers. I remember, one day, he really did win a race. His dad came in and said, 'Good job!' But Parker was disappointed because he missed an apex. I saw a difference between him and the other drivers."

At fourteen, with a slew of karting trophies and Michael Schumacher posters in his bedroom, young Parker informed Dana, "I'm ready for cars." She said, "Cars?" After successful Skip Barber racing courses at Lime Rock Park, he attended the Speed Secrets camp at California's Buttonwillow Raceway Park in November 2005. There, he caught the eye of instructor Perona, who became his coach. Kligerman signed on for the Formula TR developmental series. Dana recalled 2006 as "a very, very expensive year for us in Formula TR." Races were on the West Coast, so she and her son would fly out of LaGuardia or Newark on Thursday and return Sunday with the laurels. He won prodigiously on his way to a championship. Parker would snooze on return flights while Dana made notes for a book she wanted to call Racing to Rehab - "due to all the wine I would consume after each race to calm my nerves."

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