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R&E Racing, Coast Packing Company, and Eric Gustafson Team Up With Manny Buginga’s NHRA Pro Mod Operation, Debut Set For Charlotte Four-Wide


Eric Gustafson’s R&E Racing and Coast Packing Company is the latest key figure to team up with Manny Buginga’s NHRA Pro Mod operation. The team’s announced today that R&E Racing will lease Team Buginga’s Pro Mod “Fred” for the remainder of the 2023 NHRA Fuel Tech Pro Mod series. Jason Lee, 2022 Radial vs. the World Champion, recently joined the team as crew chief and will also drive the car under the Coast Packing Company banner and corporate brands. 

“The [Buginga] team does a great job, is extremely passionate and competitive, and it’s a good opportunity to try NHRA Pro Mod. Also, with the addition of NHRA Pro Mod to Fox’s live television coverage, it provides incredible exposure for our company and corporate brands,” said Eric Gustafson, Chairman and CEO of Coast Packing Company, a leading supplier of Animal Fat Shortenings, Lard and Beef Tallow, primarily used in deep frying and baking.

Gustafson and his team entered the equation after Lee and Buginga brainstormed about the Fuel Tech NHRA Pro Mod season. The momentum was sparked by Buginga’s loss of a crew chief after the staging duel against reigning NHRA Pro Mod Champion Kris Thorne at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

Lee and Gustafson have worked together for over ten years and won multiple championships together. It made sense to join forces with Lee and Buginga as R&E Racing is very familiar with a ProCharger Pro Mod setup. Additionally, in November 2020, Lee took over driving duties from Gustafson in the 1969 Coast Packing Pro Mod Camaro, “The Lard Machine.” Furthermore, he understands what it takes to win in high-stakes competition. 

“We’ve got a great team, and Jason plays a big part of that,” continued Gustafson. “We have a long-term friendship with Jason, his partner Patrick Barnhill and their company PTP Racing.”

Both Buginga and Gustafson are looking forward to working together after years of competing against one another. 

“Manny is an exceptionally passionate individual,” explained Gustafson. “Like me, he’s extremely competitive – wants to win, and that fits within our team mentality. We’re looking forward to working as a team with Manny and his crew and putting our resources into the program to win races. Then, hopefully, at the end of the season, one of us earns the NHRA Fuel Tech Pro Mod championship.”

Although Gustafson and Team Buginga might be starting their quest for a championship at a four-wide format, he is welcoming its adversity and ready to face it head-on.

“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it,” Gustafson said, referencing the formation of the new Pro Mod team in a four-wide format. “We might as well just make it as complicated as it can be and challenge ourselves to be the best in one of the most complex and unique racing environments.”

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“It takes great people and teamwork to succeed, and we are all working towards a common goal to win,” said Eric Gustafson, thanking his team, Crew Chief Cameron Hensley and “Trucker” John Urgo, and his family and employees at Coast Packing.

This story was originally published on April 18, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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