After months of testing and preparing NHRA Pro Stock rookie driver Camrie Caruso will make her professional debut this weekend at the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Driving the Powerbuilt Tools Chevrolet Camaro Caruso, a third-generation racer, will hit the track for the first qualifying session on Friday afternoon at the famed racetrack located just outside Los Angeles.
The young driver who lives in Denver, North Carolina, has worked her way up the drag racing ranks over the last fifteen years starting in the junior dragster ranks and moving up through the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. Last year during the Texas Fall Nationals Caruso announced her plans to become just the second female in the modern era to compete full-time in one of the most competitive professional class the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series has to offer. She announced Powerbuilt Tools as her primary sponsor to start the season in January and now the 23-year-old is one of the favorites for rookie of the year honors.
“I am excited to get my rookie year of Pro Stock started and I really appreciate Powerbuilt Tools coming on board for my first two races as a primary sponsor,” said Caruso, who was recognized in 2018 as a 30 Under 30 member by Drag Illustrated magazine. “Powerbuilt Tools will be an associate sponsor the rest of the season. I have a lot of confidence in my racecar knowing it will be put together and serviced between rounds with their tools. I am excited to get the season started and take the experience I have picked up in testing to an actual race.”
Caruso and her Powerbuilt Tools team also has backing from NGK Spark Plugs and Global Emissions Systems Inc. (GESi®) as well as a host of other companies. In addition to her driving responsibilities Caruso has developed sponsorship and business to business relationships that are funding her racing program. World champion Pro Stock driver Jim Yates joined the team as crew chief and has been instrumental in providing an ever-improving tune-up as well as driver insights Caruso plans to use beginning this weekend.
“I am thrilled to have Jim Yates as my crew chief,” said Caruso. “We have a strong team and Jim’s years of experience will only make us stronger. Having a crew chief that has driven as well as tuned these race cars is a huge advantage and one that I am looking forward to taking full advantage of starting this weekend at the Winternationals.”
Caruso began driving in the NHRA Jr. Dragster League before attending Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and earning her Super Comp license. She has continued to move up through the NHRA competition classes for over a decade. After three years of competing in the 8.90 index class, she went back to Frank Hawley and obtained her Top Dragster license, successfully competing in both PDRA and NHRA for three years.
She advanced from Top Alcohol Dragster, then to Elite Top Dragster and Pro Outlaw 632 on the PDRA circuit. The team’s 632 car was a naturally aspirated, clutch-equipped former Mountain Motor Pro Stock GXP that is very similar to an NHRA Pro Stock car. After multiple test sessions including three days at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park last weekend Caruso is getting acclimated to her new Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stock racecar and racing side-by-side at over 200 mph.
“Being able to test for a few weeks prior to going out west and testing in Phoenix has been so awesome,” said Caruso. “I have really had a chance to get 100% comfy in the car and the team has been able to get into a routine with each other. It was good to get used to running beside other Pro Stock competitors before the Winternationals. You don’t want that completely new experience at your first race.”
The NHRA Winternationals will start the NHRA’s season in sunny Pomona, California, with one qualifying session on Friday, February 18, with two more qualifying sessions on Saturday, the quickest sixteen Pro Stock cars will race on Sunday with the event being televised on FS1 nationally.