Last winter, Mountain Motor Pro Stock veteran JR Carr sold his complete operation to former teammate Richard Freeman and his Elite Motorsports team. He stepped back from a championship-caliber program to spend more time with his family and his business ventures. This weekend, though, he’s back in the seat of his familiar white Camaro at the PDRA Red Line Oil Carolina Nationals at Darlington Dragway to race in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition while testing for Freeman.
“There’s several things that we did not get to test last year,” Carr begins. “Richard can’t be here because he’s in Maple Grove [at the NHRA Pep Boys Nationals], so I’m filling in. We’ve actually had a good test session. Normally, they don’t go so well for us, so then we quit testing. We’re testing, we’re going to stay for the race, and see what we can do. The main goal was to figure a few things out. The car’s working good. The crew’s doing their normal thing like always. Frank [Gugliotta, crew chief], he’s Frank. There’s only one of him. We’re having fun and working.”
Carr made two passes during Thursday’s pre-race testing at Darlington, a 4.11 and a 4.09. They were his first passes back in the car since the 2022 PDRA Brian Olson Memorial World Finals at Virginia Motorsports Park in October.
“Tommy [Franklin] was like, ‘Well, it looks like you didn’t forget much.’ It’s been almost a year. But I feel so comfortable in the car – no nerves or anything. We’re going to have some fun.”
Carr, wife Teri, and the Gugliotta-led team won five PDRA national events and the 2022 Summit Racing PDRA ProStars race before stepping away at the end of the 2022 season. Carr might not have been on track since then, but he hasn’t slowed down much.
“We’ve kind of moved on in our life,” Carr says. “We have grandkids all over the place, and our lake house is done, so we spent a lot of time on the lake this year. Just kind of a different pace. We’re still wide-open, believe it or not. I know it sounds like, oh, all you do is lay around. We don’t. Both Teri and I work really hard just to keep everything how we want it. This is a nice break from it because there’s nothing we can do back there right now. We can focus on this.”
Carr hasn’t made a clean break from racing, though, as he’s continued to help with efforts to grow the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class, which competes in both eighth-mile PDRA Extreme Pro Stock and quarter-mile NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock.
“The hook doesn’t go away. It just doesn’t,” Carr says. “I’m behind the scenes helping on some other things with Mountain Motor. My goal, years and years ago, was to see this class grow. I’ve been a part of that, and there’s been a lot of guys that’ve put a lot of effort into getting it built back up. We were struggling to get eight cars. It’s still not where it needs to be, but I think the attraction is back. You can come run this class, there’s not a lot of rule changes, it’s cheaper than Top Sportsman in some cases, and we have fun.
“This team right here, we have as much fun as anybody,” he continues. “Richard and them, he has other businesses, but they do Pro Stock for fun, which it’s the same with me. I came from farming, which is very high-stress 24/7. This is too, but I’ve learned how to enjoy it. It took me a long time to get there.”
Carr, who’s won in IHRA Pro Stock and NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock, earned his first of the five PDRA wins at Darlington in 2020. He might not be in championship contention this time around, but Carr is still motivated to hoist one more PDRA 660 Man trophy.
“That was another thing that fit in with the schedule of Richard not being able to be here and me coming back,” Carr says. “It’d be nice to get another win here. I don’t know that we can do it, but we’re gonna try. We’ll give it all we’ve got.”