Latino’s Big League Debut!

After flirting with the idea over the past couple of season’s – defending 2012 PMRA Champion Eric Latino recently made his NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series debut….

Toronto's Eric Latino ran well during his recent NHRA  National event debut race.

Toronto’s Eric Latino ran well during his recent NHRA National event debut race.


Latino’s GESI/Quality Plus Compressors “Team Green” came to play with the big boys during NHRA’s recent 4-Wide Nationals down at zMax Dragway in North Carolina.  For Eric’s highly talented group it marked the first time they had entered their car in what is arguably Pro Modified class racing’s highest level of competition.

Eric Latino

Eric Latino

Eric Latino ran well at the event with a solid qualifier (5.976 secs – 7th) followed by an even quicker run while losing in round one to Von Smith (at 5.926 secs at 246.80 mph.)  Smith overcame Latino’s slight holeshot to win with a superior 5.884 secs.

“Overall we are pretty happy with what we were able to do there,” said Latino.  “Over the last couple of seasons we have worked hard to evolve our team to this point.  It (NHRA) is certainly a much bigger league.”

Latino did confirm however that his entry at the Charlotte-area event was somewhat a result of circumstance too.

“It was a situation of not having the right (legal) blower to enter events in the past,” he explained.  “We had some trouble finding the right gear drive ratio for our supercharger – but Al Billes stepped in to help us.  So we went testing with that at Rockingham where we also had a new racing shock program from JRI.  The testing went real well so we felt confident.  And we were in the area so the timing worked out that we could enter the NHRA event.”

Latino also confirmed that he will shift his team’s focus to more of a NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presence going forward in 2013.

“Don’t get me wrong — we love the PMRA people and the guys on that circuit are just great,” Eric emphasized.  “But a very important factor for me personally is safety.  All track owners do the best they can with what they have — but these Pro Mod class  cars don’t run 6.50’s anymore.  The track prep and containment at NHRA races is a much higher level.  We plan to still run some PMRA events but our main season target will be 5-6 NHRA races this season.”

Latino also clarified his crew and team alliance structure for 2013.

“We run our own car and Al Billes has his own deal with Kenny Lang,” Latino added.  “We really don’t share information because the our car and Al’s Corvette are completely different.  But we do consult with one another on track and conditions.  At the end of the day Paulo is our team tuner and Pete (Olin) is my team crew chief.”

Peter Olin (Crew Chief) - Al Billes - Paulo D'Alimonte (Tuner)

Peter Olin (Crew Chief) – Al Billes – Paulo D’Alimonte (Tuner)

Latino’s venture forward in 2013 also includes some exciting and innovative new sponsorship alliances and associates — including web-based  Eric is also pleased to welcome aboard Kook’s Custom Headers, JRI Shocks and Wiseco/JE Pistons into his racing equation this season.

Photos and posting by:  Bruce Biegler