Pro Mod Resume Building

By:       Bruce Biegler

It was not all that long ago that the name Eric Latino was probably a relatively unfamiliar one to most Canadian drag racing fans.   Over the last couple of seasons however that notion has been changing quickly….

Eric Latino, who is from Port Perry Ontario, is a very determined and focused individual.  Upon getting to know him and watching him operate, that quality quickly becomes apparent.  It may also very well be a determining factor in allowing Latino to become the next future star within Canadian Pro Mod drag racing, following in the path cut down by Al Billes, Tony Pontieri and Raymond Commisso.

Since about 2008, Eric has been driving what is arguably one of the “coolest” Pro Mod cars ever conceived.  His Jerry Bickel-built 1937 Chevy is in fact the very same car that Iowa’s Carl Moyer ran very successfully within the “hey day” of IHRA Pro Mod class drag racing.   Latino acquired that car after what could probably be best called a “twist of fate”.

Eric Latino

“I remember seeing this car back at NYIR racing against Jim Oddy,” Latino reflected.  “At the time I was so impressed and really wanted a car like it.  A few years ago I was on the internet shopping around and I saw the car was for sale – and it was in Ontario.  I contacted Bill Denny, who then owned it, and I did a trade with a Corvette I had. Who would have thought?  That was in 2005.”

When Latino first hit the track with it, he did use a nitrous-injected engine combination, running the car on a limited basis in Outlaw Street.  Soon after that the car and engine program began its evolution.   Because of a close personal relationship with Toronto’s Tony Pontieri, Eric’s car was later outfitted with a supercharged 526 CID engine that was originally built by Al Billes.  

That move has paid dividends.  Latino steadily creeped up and became a prominent local Pro Mod racer.  He managed a big win during the Pro Mod feature portion of the 2009 Canadian Street Car Nationals (at TMP) and then followed that up earlier this year with his first ever victory on the PMRA circuit (also at TMP).   No only did that grab some attention, it confirmed him as a “player”.

Latino's '37 Chevy rates high on the racing fan "cool meter"

“To make this car run well was a big learning curve for us,” Eric admitted.  “Tony (Pontieri) and Jim Salemi really helped us get the car sorted out and tuned properly.  The benefit of this car, for our circuit, is that in almost any conditions – it will get down the race track.” 

Eric is however continuing to be forward looking.  He is quick to confirm that while his current ’37 Chevy does rate off the scale on the racing fan “cool meter” – it is probably not going to take him to the next level in the Pro Mod class.  That is something he now desires. 

“The reality is that the newer cars I am competing against have many advantages and aerodynamics is one of them,” he continued.  “They can run that much faster that much easier.  It may very well be required to follow that path to get to that level.  I really enjoy the PMRA – the guys there are just great – but I would like my shot within the NHRA.  My desire and objective is to do 10-12 events over there and see how we do.” 

Racing fans may expect some additional news on that front in the not too distant future.

Latino racked up his first PMRA circuit win earlier this season...

Eric’s racing team is a currently a self-funded one that traces it’s foundation to his very successful Red Line Performance Center, which specializes in muscle cars, which he first established in 1985. 

His next and probably biggest going concern is his Global Emission Systems Inc. (GESI) Company, a very creative consortium of investors that is a pioneer in thermal emission control technology.   GESI was in fact recently featured on Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet program and DragRaceCanada will have a more in-depth feature on that project in the near future.


(Bruce Biegler Photos)