Canada will have a new face within the ranks of Top Alcohol Funny Car class racing – coming this summer….

A boyhood dream will become reality this season for a very popular Ottawa-area based drag racer.  

Paolo Guist and his wife Shannon (Osgoode ON), who have been very colourful participants within the wild world of Pro Mod and Small Tire circuit drag racing over the last decade or so — have upped the anti again — and are on the cusp of taking delivery of a complete TAFC operation.

Paolo has confirmed the purchase of a Camaro-bodied machine and all components from California-based Brian Smith Motorsports, with which he plans to edge his way into that class beginning this summer.

“Like a lot of kids — I grew up loving Funny Cars,”  Paolo admitted.  “I loved the Snake and the Mongoose and always dreamed about doing it myself – racing a Funny Car has been my ultimate goal.”

“We have concluded a deal to acquire Brian Smith’s complete operation,” he revealed.  “That includes a car, two motors and all the spare parts — everything I need to go racing in the class.   The Camaro (which has been sitting idle for about 5 years) will first be transported to G-Force Race Cars in Buffalo – where I will make a rendezvous – before heading with it to Canada. We (including team members Jamie Clarmo & Joe Cavanaugh) will then go over it completely for recertification — and if all goes well I should have the car ready to begin testing by the end of July.”

This formally California-based TAFC (Brian Smith Motorsports) will now find it’s new home within Canada.

Paolo and Shannon’s initial plans for TAFC racing will be at first a measured approach.  Their primary focus will be too do match racing within Canada – primarily at newly refurbished Luskville Dragway and at Napierville Dragway in 2021.

“Luskville has done such a great job with their new all concrete surface — it’s local and perfect for what we need,” he added. “We’ll probably do some private track rentals first — to test the car and for me to get comfortable in it.  The challenge of racing a funny car is something different that I’m looking forward too and racing it is something we can do closer to home.”

Paolo did suggest the notion that he would like to at some point venture into some NHRA Lucas Oil regional or national event racing – however affirmed any decision about doing that wouldn’t happen until 2022 at the earliest. 

He was also quick to emphasize that his TAFC Camaro was an enhancement for his race team as he will continue to race the very popular “Black Betty” ’69 Camaro – a supercharged Drag Radial class car – at select events in the USA.

Paolo Guist

“If all goes well we will have a “Funny Car Summer” followed by a “Drag Radial Winter”, he winked.

The “Black Betty” car is now back in Canada (returned 3-weeks ago) after being stranded in the USA due to COVID for well over a year.   Paolo and Shannon have definite plans to enter that at events like the next “Shakedown” and “No Mercy”.  

Paolo Guist’s “Black Betty” Pro Radial Camaro.

“With our new decision — we’ll be better equipped overall as a race team too,” he added.  “The motor program for the funny car is very similar to that of “Black Betty” (Hemi/screw blowers) – so having 4 complete engines options to go forward with is a big plus!”

Paolo confirmed that he is already in fact fully licensed to drive his new TAFC – using his existing Pro Mod license as a valid crossover.

“I can’t wait to take on this new challenge as a driver,” he concluded. “There are some similarites — but getting used to a clutch (in the TAFC) and having no suspension will take a bit of getting used to.  I haven’t been in a race car since Feb 2020 — so I’m pretty excited to get our season started!” 

Posted by Bruce Biegler

DragRaceCanada File Photos by Bob Johnson – Brennan Shortall – Bruce Biegler