We can say with certainty that for within Canada — this Toronto-based racer has driven more Pro Mod cars then anyone else!…….

And that’s a passion and a commitment you can’t help but commend.   

Raymond Commisso, who is a very successful restaurant owner and businessman, has throughout his career demonstrated some very real singularity within his brand of drag racing while owning and driving various and nothing but — supercharged fast door cars.

And with and because of that, Commisso’s reputation as arguably Canada’s most famous Pro Mod driver has real merit.   His career event wins have come at some of the highest circuit levels – including NHRA – IHRA and NMCA.

After he decided to take the next step up from Pro Street car racing in the very early 2000’s — he hasn’t really looked back — now two decades later – that desire remains. 

“I pretty much loved them all (cars) – they were all special in one way or another,” Raymond reflected.  “I guess it’s kind of like when you have kids – you can’t pick a favourite child.”

“These class of cars have tech that is ever evolving and it’s been great being able to witness and be part of all that,” he added.  “In fact for all that there is a direct relationship and partnership with Al Billes throughout. Having Al behind me with all his wizardry and cutting edge parts, along with the enduring support of my brother (Claudio), Ralph Andreaachi, Cole Metheral and Harry Hibbs — that is what has kept me always motivated.”

Raymond’s Pro Mod career was preceded by a 4-year stint racing this outrageous supercharged 1990 Camaro – mostly within Canada — which first began in 1998.
Raymond’s first actual Pro Mod class car came in 2002 with this WebWorkx-sponsored Camaro – which featured a chassis by Luc Querin and also Raymond’s first Al Billes engine program. Ray’s biggest score with this car came during Cayuga Dragway’s 50th Anniversary race – 2004.
For a short period of time in 2005 Ray tested in the ill-fated “The Punisher” ’63 Corvette which proved to be a failed experiment.
In 2006 Commisso debuted his stunning “Steelback Brewery” Camaro which provided him with some milestones – including his first ever 5-secs run (a 5.98 secs – a first by a Canadian in the class). This expertly built G-Force Race Cars also qualified #1 at NHRA US Nationals at Indianapolis and won the IHRA World Nationals in Ohio (both in 2007)
This ’68 Firebird was raced for a time in 2007-08 – it had a Vanishing Point chassis and some good placings — including a runner-up finish at the NHRA Gatornationals.
The “Baby Blue” Camaro produced a couple of significant career moments — giving Ray his very first NHRA national event win (at Englishtown) and then a very wicked top end tumble at Grand Bend Motorplex later during the summer of 2009.
During the period 2010-12 Raymond did drive a couple of very pretty Camaro’s while under the Roger Burgess multi-car R2B2 Racing stable. The “Blue Horse” car (top) set a national ET record at NHRA Houston in 2010 but it went even quicker — 5.76 secs 253 mph (during testing).
Also with the R2B2 Racing Team – Ray did file entry for a couple of NHRA national events with this version ’63 Corvette – originally built for Steve Engel. At a NHRA race in Virginia with it — he was involved in what was the fastest Pro Mod pairing in history at the time – a titanic 5.80 secs to 5.81 secs clash with then race teammate – Melanie Troxel.
For a time Ray did race this great looking machine and won at the IHRA nationals in Baton Rouge LA with it.
Commisso’s biggest win on Canadian soil came in 2007 when he won at Grand Bend Motorplex’s Mopar Canadian Nationals. The win came despite the fact the car was brand spanking new – 1st weekend out!
This creative Firebird was built in-house at R2B2 during the 2012 racing season — it was wicked fast at times – but also temperamental!
This ’68 model Camaro was raced between 2014-15, with “final four” placements at NHRA Gainesville and Las Vegas. Regrettably the race car (also a NHRA “Best Appearing” winner) was destroyed in 2015 during an event in Florida when Ray’s racing opponent drove into the back of his car at high speed!
Commisso scored his first NMCA circuit title in 2016 behind the wheel of this Jerry Bickel constructed Camaro.
In 2020 Ray took control of this car built by Rick Jones which is owned by Commisso’s present day teammate – Ralph Andreaachi (Carstar Millwick). Together they won a season-ending UDRA feature at Quebec’s Napierville Dragway.

While Raymond’s career progression is chock full of positives and highlights — there has also been some bumps along the way – and we mean that quite literally — Commisso and drag racing fate have had some nasty interactions.

Raymond Commisso

“There is no doubt I’ve had some mishaps within my journey,” Ray admits.  “If you get into one of these cars without thinking that a crash can happen – you should not be sitting in the car.  I’ve had my moments – but from every incident I’ve learned from the experience.   Some were due to mechanical issues and some — I just should have been smarter.  These Pro Mod cars will take you to the edge and will get the best of you quickly — and when that happens you are just along for the ride.  The only remedy after experiencing that is to teach yourself – learn what to do and what not to do.  I am a much better and more confident driver now.”

While the lineup of “Commisso Cars” (above) is impressive – it is far from the end.  Raymond Commisso and his racing partner Ralph Andreaachi will continue on in 2021 – with both a short term and long term plan being envisioned.

Ray will be the designated driver for Ralph’s very potent Camaro in 2021 and will compete that car exclusively within Canada at drag strips in Ontario and Quebec.   Raymond does have a 2nd — all new Camaro — which is now finished construction from Bickel Race Cars.   That Camaro is destined for NHRA’s E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Series racing – but because of COVID border restrictions – it will remain in the USA and its start date for that circuit racing is presently deferred.

Posted by Bruce Biegler

Photos by Bruce Biegler, Dave DeAngelis, Phil Hutchison & Patrick Harrington

While in the GTA visit and support Raymond’s excellent Dimmi Trattoria restaurant : HERE