Rookie Camrie Caruso is already making his mark in the NHRA Pro stock class
In just the second race of her budding Pro Stock career, Camrie Caruso made NHRA history at the Arizona Nationals near Phoenix last weekend.
She knocked out fellow Gen Z Cristian Cuadra in her opener to become the third woman to win a round in the class. In only her second race – she came out in the first round of the season-opening Winternationals – Caruso joined Lucinda McFarlin and Erica Enders.
McFarlin was the first to do so, beating Don Beverly on the first lap of the 1992 Memphis race for her only win. Enders’ first step to his four series championships and 389 round wins came against Rickie Smith in the opening round of the 2005 event in Reading, Pennsylvania. McFarlin broke the barrier in the sixth race of 1992. Enders first arrived in the 19th race of 2005. Caruso, driving his Powerbuilt Tools Camaro, made his mark in race #2. His Race day ended in the quarterfinals, as she lost to qualifier No. 1 Kyle Koretsky.
This surely won’t be the last anyone hears of Camrie Caruso, who just turned 24 on Valentine’s Day. This third-generation rider may have little professional experience in the Camping World Drag Racing Series, but she has high expectations of herself.
“I have big goals. The first goal is to win five races. My second goal is to finish in the Top 3 in points. And my third goal is that I would like to get at least a No. 1 qualification,” said she declared.
Caruso has won several Top Dragster trophies and won once in Super Comp. The Jr. Dragster grad also challenged for the championship in the PDRA’s Pro Outlaws 632 class. She described cars in this category as “the class below Mountain Motor Pro Stock” and “essentially mini-Pro Stock”. So she knows the fast way on a drag strip.
This girl can drive a racing car. I am totally impressed with her. You just teach her once and she goes over there and does it. It’s awesome. – Jim Yates, team leader
If it achieved its own lofty first-year goals, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise, given that when it announced its 2022 debut at last October’s Stampede of Speed at the Texas Motorplex, it didn’t even own no motor.
Today she has four, two that 2018 Pro Stock champion Tanner Gray used and two that Drew Skillman used for at least a few of his seven wins. Caruso’s father Marc, a five-class NHRA racer for the past 30 years and owner of cars for Tommy D’Aprile and Alex Laughlin, owns the engines with his father and Camrie Causo’s grandfather, “Papa Joe “. Joe Caruso has competed in Super Gas, Top Sportsman and Pro Modified.
Caruso Family Racing’s new engine program is run in cooperation with Eric Latino’s Titan Racing Engines (formerly Gray Motorsports) in Denver, NC Latino, Marc Caruso, Mike Smith and Stevie Johns massage the engines – and give their new tutorials for young pilots in Pro Stock engine preparation.
“I work for Titan Racing Engines, as well as Right Trailers. At Titan, I do a lot of marketing. And when the guys are assembling them, they come and get me: “Hey – come and learn how to do this. They’ve taught me things about Pro Stock engines since I got there,” said Camrie, who moved to North Carolina last fall from Fairport, NY (just east of Rochester) .
“I like learning, just because I feel like it makes you a better driver. You know what happens when you work on your own car,” she said. ‘racetrack, she has other responsibilities and lets her crew focus on their missions while she takes care of hers.’ She said: ‘I have debated doing the transmission because I really like this. But I have other responsibilities [at a race]and if they need it done right away, I might not be there.
Jim Yates, two-time Pro Stock champion (1996-97), is crew chief, as he was for Johnny and Shane Gray for several years. He had a hunch that Camrie would be a rising star in a sport hungry for 20-something runners, but when she jumped on Cuadra in their Phoenix couple and never hung out, she might have been slightly surprise that success – however small – came so quickly, just 6.538 seconds into their race day. Her speed of 210.08 mph in this pass showed that she had power and was not afraid to use it.
“This girl can drive a race car. I’m totally in awe of her,” Yates said after witnessing her first-round win. “You just teach her once and she goes over there and does it. It’s awesome. For her to win [light] in just her second race is incredible, an incredible feat for her.
She said calmly, “Winning the round was good and exciting. I’m glad we fixed that. She came out on lap two and was consistent at 6.566 seconds and 209.98 mph, even though she lost to Kyle Koretsky.
Yates, who earned a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Maryland, said early on that he wanted to “bring my knowledge and experience to this team to make it the best it can be,” building on his familiarity with pilots of different skills. levels and with various power sets. That, the 25-time Pro Stock winner said, “is really important for a start-up team.” Additionally, as Caruso’s father and “Dad,” who co-own and work for a construction company that specializes in building and remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, Yates also brings a wealth of business knowledge. He started Yates Auto Parts and grew it into a company with 23 stores and its own warehouse in the Washington, DC area. He has since sold it, but if his driver ever needs any business advice, she can ask Yates and his family.
“He has a lot of knowledge,” Caruso said. “I like that he’s also a driver.” Pro Stock is a lot more complex than many people realize, and Yates can help him develop a rhythm in the car.
The car she lobbied to drive was a Pro Mod, but she said the Pro Stock business was her father’s management.
“It’s his whole idea. I wanted to do Pro Mod races,” Caruso said. What made Marc Caruso so insistent that she not go down this route was his own nasty 2019 accident in Bristol in which he plowed into the sand trap and ended up breaking a lower lumbar vertebra . “So it was Pro Stock,” she said kindly.
I love learning, just because I feel like it makes you a better driver. You know what happens when you work on your own car. – Camrie Caruso
But this racer who loves a challenge gets one from her Pro Stock car.
“The best way to explain it,” she said, “is that you have to do the exact same thing every race. You take notes on everything. It’s just very thorough.
Caruso is used to taking notes. She earned degrees in marketing and finance from Empire State College at SUNY (State University of New York), so she learned to navigate the business side of racing. She has hunted her own money and understands the basics of partner marketing sourcing well.
She concluded that “the days of people giving money are over. You have to know how you can benefit them or they don’t care how they can benefit you. You have to bring something to the table. So I try to find business-to-business things that work for them, maybe a client for them. There are hundreds of people sending them marketing proposals and presentations, asking for money. How are you different from others? »
With this, she is already ahead of many of her colleagues. Additionally, she said she enjoys managing this aspect of her career.
“You can always have an agency, but I feel like it’s best to do it yourself, because then it’s personal. You have personal relationships with everyone,” Caruso said. “If we want to race at this level, we have to have funding. I just always found my own way of doing it, because I think it’s special that way. It means more to us. My dad and grandpa can’t fund a Pro Stock deal. I mean, maybe they can – but they won’t. And I don’t want anyone to give me anything. I want to work for it, because it means more.
She said of her father, “He’s great at it. You can call him up and say, “Hey, I got company X.” How can I involve them? and he has a way. I don’t know how or why, but he’s good at it.
One thing that Caruso hasn’t fully made up her mind on is whether or not she wants to be the “face of the future” of the sport. Much of the talk these days centers around the higher average age of NHRA fan and sanctioning body decision makers.
“Honestly, I think they’re getting better at getting the younger kids out there. [racers]”, Caruso said. “But they have a little trouble showing it. You’d think they’d want to make a huge deal out of it, but they really don’t. I haven’t figured that out yet.
She knows she’s not about to put pressure on herself to take on this role: “I’m going to do whatever I have to do, anyway. If they don’t want to make a big deal out of it, that’s okay. But I will do it anyway. It’s all about John Force or the guys who’ve been there forever, and I get it. But they’re going to have to retire at some point, and who are they going to talk about then?”
We will have Camrie Caruso.