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Gone Racin'... Frank Arciero, July 7, 1925 – May 23, 2012

Gone Racin'... Frank Arciero, July 7, 1925 – May 23, 2012


Gone Racin'... Frank Arciero,
July 7, 1925 – May 23, 2012. 
Written by the Arciero family, with outside sources. 
Edited by Richard Parks.


Frank Arciero (pronounced Ar-cheer-o) was born on July 7, 1925, in Sant’Elia Fiumerapido, Italy, a small town situated between Rome and Naples.  The town was built in the 9th Century and was the feudal property of Monte Cassino and its history was linked to that of the Abbey.  The town had many rivers, and Sant'Elia had many factories that produced paper for Monte Cassino's scriptorium, Merino wool, flour mills,   and olive oil production.  It was the first town in the Roman countryside to have electricity due to its rivers.  Sant'Elia experienced a great economic downturn after the unification of Italy in 1870 as many of the factories were closed and moved to Northern Italy, the home of the Savoy family dynasty.  Sant'Elia is often referred to as Cassino's bedroom because many people who work in Cassino have purchased villas in the Sant'Elia countryside where they can still find vineyards and olive groves.  Sant'Elia's   historical center still has cobble stone streets and many medieval buildings.

In 1939 he and his brother Phil sailed for America to join their father and older brother Mike.  He left behind his mother Christina, who would join them later.  Ten days later, they landed on Ellis Island speaking absolutely no English and then traveled by train to Detroit, Michigan where they joined their father and older brother and began working digging ditches.  Frank realized that working for someone else just wasn’t for him.  He needed to be his own boss and be the one making the decisions.  Nearly every man achieves a certain degree of success in a lifetime.  Some are born to success; for others, it is the result of long hours and hard work.  Success for Frank Arciero has been one of those great “rags to riches” stories with a lot of hard work and determination between the hard times and the good times.

In 1945 Frank married Angelina Morelli shortly after his 20th birthday.  She too was from Italy not very far from where Frank was born and raised. He used to say it was about a one day ride on his donkey to the town of Casalattico where Angie was from. Casalattico is a hilly town in the Province of Frosinone, not far from Monte Cassino.  The center is divided into two parts with the ancient, lower settlement named after Pomponius Atticus, with narrow and irregular lanes and a wall around the picturesque little town.  From the nearby village of Montattico beautiful excursions are possible into the nearby mountains of Ubachelle, which is an old, inactive volcano.  By 1305 the town became known as Casale Attico and finally Casalattico.  The hills are planted in olive trees and vineyards.

Frank and Angelina moved to California where Frank and Angie would raise their family together.  In 1946, Frank Arciero Jr was born, followed by Albert and their youngest son Robert. Frank now had a family, and his focus on life and work got even deeper.  He had always been a man that can dream of something and find a way of turning that dream into reality.  Frank founded his own concrete subcontracting business, Frank Arciero Contractors and Arciero Brothers with his brother Phil.  He also had his sights set on California farmland and returning to his Italian roots of farming the land.  He purchased over 5000 acres in the Mojave Desert to grow alfalfa.  He also started a construction company with his two sons Frank Jr and Albert called Arciero & Sons which they still run to this day.

One of Frank’s many passions in his life was cars and auto racing.  In 1947 he accompanied a friend, Tony Paravanno, to a race in Palm Springs, California.   He became enamored with Jim Kimberley’s Ferrari and decided that he had to have one for himself.  Frank bought a 2-liter Ferrari and began his racing career.  When his insurance company found out about his dangerous hobby they threatened to cancel his bonds and insurance that he had for his contracting business.  Frank stopped driving but he noticed that a young Dan Gurney had a lot of racing talent, so he put Dan behind the wheel of a 4.9 Ferrari that had replaced the 2-liter model.  Frank helped start the racing careers of many drivers throughout his 55 plus year history in motorsports. Drivers like Dan Gurney, Jimmy Clark, Parnelli Jones, Al and Bobby Unser, Michael Andretti to name a few; and the list goes on.  Frank has been involved in many forms of racing, including; sports cars, Indy Car, Stock Cars and Off-Road Racing.  Frank was one of the original founders of CART.

In 1982 Frank was driving through Paso Robles while on a business trip and he was struck by the beauty of the rolling hills.  The countryside reminded him of his hometown of Santa Elia.  He purchased some land and four years later he started a winery and harvested his first grapes.  Winemaking was in his blood.  His Grandfather and father taught him how to make wine when he was a boy and he knew all along that one day he would be doing the same.  Frank was a man of many hats in the business world.  There was no hurdle he couldn’t overcome and “NO” was never an option.  Hard work and determination were his driving force.  Retirement was never a word he knew or would accept.  Frank retired from work the day he left this world on May 23, 2012, at the age of 86.  He is survived by his brothers Phil and Tony, two sons, Frank Jr, and Albert, his grandchildren Gina, Ryan, Dana, Robert and Jaclynn, and his great-grandchildren, Arie, Nico, Dylann, Gina, JoJo, Presley, Luke, Piper and Rocco.

A Roman Catholic Mass was held for Frank Arciero Sr on 30 May, 2012 at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, California.  Over 350 people attended the Mass including Ed Osepian, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Bruce Meyer and Linda Vaughn.  Family members and friends escorted Frank down the aisle to the Altar where the priest began the introductory rites.  The song, How Great Thou Art was sung.  An Eulogy was offered of his life.  Then the liturgy of the Word was offered from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11, followed by the Psalm To You, O Lord, I Lift My Soul, To You I Lift My Soul.  The second reading was 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-10.  The Gospel Acclamation was the Chant Alleluia.  Reading from the Gospel of John 14: 1-6 was given.  Then came the Homily, Prayer of the Faithful.  The priest gave the Liturgy of the Eucharist and preparation of gifts and the song Ave Maria.  Following the communion was the song On Eagle’s Wings.  The Final Commendation and Song of Farewell was rendered.  The recessional song was America the Beautiful.  Interment was at Pacific View Memorial Park in the hills overlooking Corona Del Mar and the blue Pacific Ocean.

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].