Drag Illustrated Issue 168, May 2021 - Page 89

CAMRIE CARUSO SHAKING THINGS UP BY NATE VAN WAGNEN /// PHOTOGRAPHS BY TARA BOWKER

WOMEN

OF POWER

2021

CAMRIE CARUSO SHAKING THINGS UP BY NATE VAN WAGNEN /// PHOTOGRAPHS BY TARA BOWKER

Camrie Caruso always thought she wanted to be a Pro Mod driver . For the last handful of years , she ’ s watched her dad , Marc , race his roots-blown Camaro in PDRA Pro Boost and NHRA Pro Mod . Getting in that car was her end goal for so long , but after jumping into PDRA ’ s Pro Outlaw 632 class this year , she ’ s realizing the naturally aspirated world might be for her – at least for the time being .
“ Now that I ’ ve gotten into [ the Pro Outlaw 632 car ] and I ’ ve driven it a bunch , I definitely love this stuff just as much as I thought I would love Pro Mod ,” says Caruso , whose accomplishments include race wins in PDRA Top Dragster and NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster . “ I ’ ll always want to try Pro Mod – that ’ s still my goal – but I think for a while we ’ ll stick with the naturally aspirated .”
Caruso is just a couple races into her new venture in Pro Outlaw 632 , where she ’ s driving a ’ 09 Pontiac GXP formerly driven by Elite
Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman in Mountain Motor Pro Stock . Aside from the 3V Performance-built 632ci engine under the hood , the car is still set up like a Mountain Motor Pro Stock car . Later this season , the car will return to MMPS competition , as Caruso plans to run NHRA ’ s version of the class at the Brainerd and Charlotte races – with a bigger engine , of course .
Racing in Pro Outlaw 632 with a tamed version of a Mountain Motor Pro Stock car has proven to be a valuable training process for Caruso . She made her debut at the season-opening PDRA East Coast Nationals , where she made her first full eighth-mile pass in the car during the first qualifying session . She qualified No . 13 and went out in the first round , then showed major improvement with a No . 6 start and first-round win at the Doorslammer Derby a month later .
Caruso has some talented mentors helping her through the process , including tuner Johnny Pluchino and his father , John , who ’ ve both won PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world championships . She ’ s also received advice from MMPS veteran JR Carr and his crew chief , Frank Gugliotta , and multi-time world champion John Montecalvo .
“ I couldn ’ t be more lucky with who I ’ ve had in my corner through this whole process ,” Caruso insists . “ All the advice and support really made the difference . I was either going to completely suck at GALOT or I was going to do all right . Having all them in my corner definitely made the difference . They ’ ve all been in door cars and they all know how to shift . Having the best people in the class definitely made a difference .”
Caruso told Pluchino at the start of the year that winning the championship was her goal for the season . The competition in Pro Outlaw 632 has since tempered those expectations , so she ’ s focusing on getting seat time , learning from her mentors , and getting as many round wins as possible . If that requires making changes to keep up with an increasingly competitive class , that ’ s what Caruso and her team will do .
“ After Norwalk [ in late May ], we ’ re going to make a very big change ,” Caruso starts . “ We ’ re going to change from a Lenco to a Liberty [ transmission ]. That will lose about 40 pounds . We ’ re hoping to get close to the low 4.20s to high teens . The championship is unfortunately out of reach at this point , but that doesn ’ t mean we can ’ t shake things up .” DI
May 2021 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 89