As if racing for $75,000 in Pro Stock at the Drag Illustrated World Doorslammer Nationals presented by CTech Manufacturing wasn’t enough, Alex Laughlin will try to add a little more cash to his pocket.
Doing so in the style race fans have gotten accustomed to when it comes to the man who always dreams big, Laughlin will also campaign the blown Caruso Family Racing “Rodfather” ’68 Camaro at the inaugural race, which takes place March 6-8 at Orlando Speed World Dragway.
With sponsorship from ATI Performance Products, Laughlin will be the only double entry at the event – because of course he is – as he attempts to double up and win $125,000.
“I would obviously like to win both, but I didn’t think it would happen that I would get to race Pro Mod,” Laughlin said. “I’m excited as I could possibly be. To have this opportunity, I’m just ecstatic. (Team owner Marc Caruso) is a great guy who knows how to have fun. Plus it’s a great car with great equipment, and we’ve got a great shot to win some money. I’m excited to get to Orlando.”
It will be Laughlin’s first time driving a blown Pro Mod, and also his first appearance at Orlando and driving for Caruso.
The two driving standouts developed a friendship at PRI this past year, and Laughlin presented the opportunity to bring a sponsor with him to drive Caruso’s Camaro in Orlando and at the Gatornationals the following week to kick off the NHRA Pro Mod season.
Caruso has been out of action since last year’s horrific crash at Bristol, still working his way back from the injuries he sustained. He hopes to race in the PDRA Pro Boost class this year, but Caruso and his father, Joe, looked to have someone fill the seat in the meantime.
Tommy D’Aprile drove it in Bradenton last month, while Laughlin got the nod for the mega event in Orlando.
“We’re excited to see what Alex can do,” Caruso said. “He’s definitely proven himself with every car he’s gotten into and he just loves to drive race cars. He’s also a great, great marketing person, so I’m excited to see what happens with that.”
As for being just a spectator on the starting line at what is expected to be an electric atmosphere in Orlando for the World Doorslammer Nationals, Caruso said he’s just fine with that.
“I know what it’s like to be on the starting line,” Caruso said. “Obviously if I had my way, I would like to be driving, but I’m not in that type of position right now. But I would say I have almost as much enjoyment watching the car go down the track.”
The door is open for future possibilities to drive the car during the NHRA Pro Mod season – especially if Laughlin can secure more sponsorship deals – but the Lights Out and U.S. Nationals winner is only focused on the World Doorslammer Nationals at the moment.
A win there – in either category – would be a massive triumph and Laughlin now has twice the chances to do so. It’s a long way off from entering 2020 thinking he wouldn’t be racing a Pro Mod at all this year.
“I’m excited about it,” Laughlin said. “I was trying to run a Pro Mod this year and we got a really cool opportunity to run this car. I wanted it to be as good of a deal as possible for (Caruso). We’ll go to these first couple and see what happens. As long as he’s happy, I’m good.”
The car already boasts tremendous potential, looking as good as ever following the crash. D’Aprile ran in the 3.60s in the eighth-mile in Bradenton, advancing to the final round, giving Laughlin plenty of confidence heading into Orlando.
Plus, Laughlin is itching to make a quarter-mile run in a Pro Mod again, even if it’s his first time driving a blower car with this set-up.
“I think it will be a smooth transition,” Laughlin said. “The part of being uncomfortable is not a great feeling, but that’s what I chase. It’s been several months since I’ve been 250 (mph), so I’m excited to do that.”
For it all to come together at the World Doorslammer Nationals is also meaningful for Caruso. He marveled at the massive $300,000 purse and the spotlight that Pro Stock and Pro Mod drivers will get, and Caruso thinks it’s just the start of something special.
“I think it’s an amazing opportunity for the racers,” Caruso said. “This is the way it should be. My hat goes off to Wes (Buck) and Richard (Freeman), and using all their powers to put this together. It’s amazing.”