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Cristian Cuadra Reflects on Milestone Moment as First Mexican-Born Drag Racer to Solidify No. 1 Qualifier Position

Cristian Cuadra is a hard guy to track down at the drag strip. It’s not because he’s working on his Pro Stock hot rod, but it’s because he’s doing that and running the family business, Corral Boots. 

Corral Boots has a pop-up shop in the vendor midway, and he tells us just a minute as he comes out of his race hauler and hops on a scooter to ride over to the boot trailer as we stand waiting at his pit. Along the way, he mentions that he needs to check in on his girlfriend and the books since it’s the end of the day for boot sales. All this said, Cristian also just finished his fourth round of qualifying.

After waiting about fifteen minutes for the 24-year-old to tidy things up at the boot trailer, he pulls up on his scooter and offers for us to go into his race trailer for a quiet place to talk. But not before he gets stopped by his dad, Fernando, brothers, David and Fernando Jr., and friends to take a group photo.

To say Cristian is busy at the track would be an understatement. His entire 2023 Pro Stock season has been busy, and it’s one that cemented his name in history. 

At the 38th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, Cristian Cuadra picked up the first no. 1 qualifier of his Pro Stock career and the first for his Leon, Mexico-based family. In doing so, Cristian became the first Mexican-born driver to earn a no. 1 qualifier position in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. His Corral Boots Mustang powered him to the top spot with a pass of 6.552 seconds at 210.24 mph.

Now that Cristian has had some time to process this milestone, he reflects on how he feels as we sit face-to-face in black folding chairs. 

“I feel really proud. It was tough at the beginning because we were struggling a lot, and plus, it was a brand-new car. So I didn’t expect to be that fast that quick,” he explains.

Cristian continues to sing his family’s praises as he mentions David, his twin brother, who also notched a historic moment in Mexico’s history.

“He’s the first Mexican to win a Wally at a national event,” says Cristian, referring to David’s win in Top Sportsman at the betway NHRA Carolina Nationals. “We’re making really great history in Mexico.”

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So much so that even the Mexican president called Cristian and the “Cuadra Boys” to congratulate them on their achievements.

“A lot of people from Mexico are here supporting us, so it makes me feel even more proud of my team and also of my dad and my mom because they are helping me. I’m also thankful for my girlfriend, Camila, because sometimes it’s really hard – we don’t have the time to hang out, but she understands, and she supports me.”

It’s no secret that the Cuadras have had their ups and downs during the Pro Stock season, but they continue to persevere. As a matter of fact, Cristian uses his milestone as a motivational tool.

“I always remember that event – when I’m sad or when I’m nervous, I always put the videos on from Phoenix when I qualified number one, and it makes me feel better,” he says.

Even though Cristian is only 24 years old, Pro Stock and drag racing isn’t new to him. He watched his dad race Pro Stock from basically birth and started to get the itch to drive when he was only four years old. When Cristian was 15, his dad gifted him a Mustang.

“I started drag racing on it on the streets, but my dad told me, ‘Hey, quit doing it on the streets. If you want to race, let’s do it professionally.’ So we started racing in the Mexican championship,” says Cristian. “The first year, I lost almost every race, but then the next year, I became the Super Street National Champion in Mexico.”

His brothers were also finding success on the track, so Fernando thought it was time to take their love for the sport to the U.S. After adjusting to the U.S. drag strips, according to Cristian, “It’s like racing no prep in Mexico,” plus developing a program of their own, and joining various teams, Cristian and his family found a home at Elite Motorsports. 

“It’s a dream come true to race Pro Stock,” states Cristian emotionally. “I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps. It’s like my dad did it and now I want to prove that I can and I can do it better.”

Although Cristian thinks Pro Stock is the best class right now because of the competition and makes it clear that he wants to stay right where he is, he also hints at a bit of family competition. 

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“I want to try a Pro Mod car just to feel it because my twin brother is racing basically a Pro Mod in Top Sportsman,” he says. “He runs six-tens, and I want to feel that speed.

“However, I want to stay in Pro Stock. I really enjoy it. Plus, all the people that are involved on our team are amazing. It becomes kind of family because if we’re not racing, I go to the shop and I stay with them. I go to hang out with them, so it’s like my best friends, my family.”

The family theme runs prominently throughout the Cuadra teams, related or not. Plus, being at the track with his family is some of the only time he gets to spend with his mom and dad. 

“During the weeks, we go to the office, but I never have the time to talk to my parents like I wish,” confesses Cristian. “My mom is always doing something for the company or doing all the stuff for the house. My dad is always giving classes, conferences or business meetings. So I don’t have that time with them, but when we come to the races, I have them here. My mom is with me, my dad is with me, and we’re all five together, so I think that’s the best part of [racing], that I spend time with my parents and my brothers because I really, really miss spending time with them in Mexico.”

As our conversation begins to end and the noise from the nitro cars dies down outside, Cristian wraps up the conversation with his goals for the 2024 season.

“First of all, I want to win a Wally. That’s my main goal,” he chuckles a little, answering with a big smile on his face. “Of course, I want to qualify number one again, but I truly think that you can be number sixteen or number one. It doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is on the racetrack on Sunday. I want to prove the point that we can do it. I want to take Frank Iaconio to the top.

“After I get my first Wally, I want to start fighting for a championship.”

Cristian Cuadra tidying up at the Corral Boots trailer.

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.