There has been a re-emergence of sorts for one of Canada’s longest running Pro Mod class competitors……

In what was somewhat a surprise for some, Calgarian Rick Distefano has recently added his name to some NHRA national event entry listings.

The skilled and character racer, who has been dabbling within the Pro Mod class category from almost it’s inception, was at the recent Gatornationals event racing his latest configuration and turbocharged ’70 model Chevy Camaro.  Although he did not qualify for this particular and record attended event (35 cars entered!) the race could and should be considered a potential corner stone for him for the 2018 season.

Rick Distefano

Ricky confirmed that he used the event as somewhat of a litmus test to help him chart his racing path forward.  

“We’ve been playing with this turbo car on and off for about 3 years now,” Distefano affirmed.  “We got 70-80 runs on it.  I’m also at some decision points in my life.  I’ve been doing this a while (as you know) – almost 30 years.  But looking at my career I’m not going to be happy until I’ve accomplished certain goals and racing at the highest level (NHRA) and maybe winning one of these events – is definitely on my bucket list.”

Ricky also revealed that his race team has been working diligently behind the scenes on his combination and some positive developments there is adding to his motivation.  

“Under the radar — we’ve been working really hard,” he confirmed.  “Our previous turbo car was in fact a blown car that was converted to a turbocharger.  This car (expertly built by Ryan Hinrichsen – RH Race Cars – Kelowna BC) is purpose built for a turbocharger.  We have been going a bit different direction then most of the competition out there.   Our car has a shorter wheelbase and the motor is placed in a different location.   We did have it running really fast with 40 lbs of boost — but at 36 lbs things have been a bit tricky.  But I think we’re close — the car has not been the problem – it’s been our tune-up.  We are just waiting for the car to now throw us a bone or two.   And that can only come by us getting out there.”

Ricky is moving forward with his own engine program too.  That revolves around a Brad Anderson block and cylinder heads.  But his team also uniquely employs their own cam shaft design, compression configuration and fuel management system.  

Distefano and Company do employ their own in-house engine program


Ricky Distefano’s unique and Canadian-built ’70 Camaro could be a very frequent runner within NHRA Pro Mod class wars this season

While most of Ricky D’s historical career success might have come while racing supercharged cars, his involvement with turbocharged cars dates way back even to a point in time when turbo Pro Mod were not even fashionable.

“I was a turbo guy early, “ he added.  “I saw the writing on the wall and the potential a very long time ago.  I had my first turbo on a stock LS motor and that made just stupid HP.  We experimented a lot (in both of his ’53 Corvettes) and I knew that turbo motors were better.  But at that time the reality was that fuel management tech just wasn’t keeping up.   It was no where close to what it is today.   The attraction for me has always been too that in addition to turbo cars being a lot less harder on parts — I liked them because they also tickled my brain!”

Presently, Ricky and his race team are still in a planning phase for their 2018 racing season — although it’s safe to say that their NHRA E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod circuit participation frequency will increase.  

“It’s a bit race to race right now but if we start to do fairly well – I’ll expand and add in more races to our season.”

Ricky also did provide a peak to his longer term vision too.  He has in fact ordered up yet another new Camaro (reportedly a ’69 model) from RH Race Cars – which should be ready for him to go for testing with near of the end of this season.  

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler