Drag Illustrated Issue 176, May / June 2022 - Page 92

Women of Power 2022 Camrie Caruso

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OME MIGHT call it a fluke , but Camrie Caruso

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doesn ’ t . Camrie cannot , in good conscience , consider it luck that she earned her first No . 1 qualifier award and reached her first final round in only her fifth race in Pro Stock . She has a team with championship experience , and she has some of the most proven equipment in the class . ¶ Camrie herself has diverse experience as a driver and is committed to doing what it takes to ensure that she capitalizes on the value of the team she put together with her father , Pro Mod racer Marc Caruso , and her grandfather , “ Papa Joe ” Caruso . She has a whole lot of ambition ,

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too . ¶ “ My goals at the start of the season were to be No . 1 qualifier , win races , and win the championship ,” said Camrie after becoming the first female to be crowned low qualifier in Pro Stock at Houston Raceway Park this past spring . “ Jim [ Yates , crew chief ] was like , ‘ You need to chill .’ But we ’ re already headed in the right direction .”
QUALIFYING NO . 7 AT THE SEASON OPENER , CARUSO BECAME THE FIFTH WOMAN TO COMPETE IN PRO STOCK AT THE HISTORIC WINTERNATIONALS .

Change of plans

SOME KIDS DREAM of Pro Stock , but Camrie is a racer who initially had her hopes set on racing Pro Mod , like her dad .

“ When I told my dad I wanted to go to Pro Mod a couple The of years engines

ago , he said , ‘ You ’ ve never driven a door car , so no ,’” says Camrie , who started in the NHRA Jr . Drag Racing League then moved up that to Super Comp could

when she was 16 . From there , she raced Top Dragster in both PDRA and NHRA , then took a successful turn in Top Alcohol Dragster and won the Norwalk NHRA division race with the Randy Meyer Racing team .
Camrie wasn ’ t directly aimed at NHRA Pro Stock until four-time Pro Stock winner Alex Laughlin decided he was going to sell his operation , from top to bottom , and go Top Fuel racing . That was in the middle of 2021 , and at the time , Camrie was sowing her oats in PDRA Pro Outlaw 632 and working towards competing in Mountain Motor Pro Stock .
“ We went to our sponsors and the people we were working with , and we asked if they wanted to do it ,” she recalls . “ It all happened really fast , and it was out of the blue , but we were able to form a team and get to the first race of 2022 in just a few short months . It was crazy .”
Camrie explains that they purchased Laughlin ’ s equipment in October , locked down a team – including two-time Pro Stock champion Yates as crew chief – in December , and were on-track testing in early January .
Her father , Marc , went on to share that fellow Pro Mod racer Eric Latino was instrumental in putting the right pieces together to draft a program that could be successful from the hit . Latino and his business partners purchased a building and all of the engine shop assets formerly owned by Gray Motorsports , the team that led 19-year-old Tanner Gray to the 2018 Pro Stock championship .
“ Right after Eric purchased everything and retained [ former Gray Motorsports engine builders ] Steve Johns and Mike Smith , he was filling me in and said that the shop would like to get involved with Pro Stock again , somehow ,” says Marc . “ We conversed a little bit off and on about getting Camrie involved some way , and it was Eric who called me to tell me Alex Laughlin may be interested in trading out for our Pro Mod operation .”
In the end , there was no trade – the Caruso family acquired Laughlin ’ s haul but retained their Pro Mod equipment for the moment . The

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