An Eastern Canadian Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series racer enjoyed a banner season in 2019….

The Canadian reputation within NHRA’s index classes is already very formidable — but Ontario’s Charlie Kenopic upped that ante again.

This veteran driver,  who’s speciality is 9.90 Super Gas class “target racing” — had a truly exemplary campaign in 2019.  Last year saw him not only claim a very prestigious NHRA Lucas Oil Northeast Division points title by a healthy margin — he also placed 3rd in final points standings for NHRA’s highly coveted Lucas Oil World Championship.

Ontario’s Charlie Kenopic raised his racing profile to a higher level in 2019 — with a #3 finish in final points for NHRA’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world championship title chase.

Kenopic, who is based from Renfrew Ontario, in conjunction with his racing partner Rick Stroud (also an accomplished NHRA index competitor) proved just how effective an independent and unsponsored race team can be – via the hard work and determination formula. 

“2019 was a career year for sure,” Kenopic affirmed.  “I’ve been racing in this class since the 1980’s — so to have that level of success finally was very gratifying. The level of competition in Super Gas (and notably within our Division itself) is so tough — the fact we ended up with 450 points is pretty remarkable.  I went to four final rounds during the season — winning three times.”

Charlie’s title came in what now is a very proven topless ’63 Corvette — a machine which he in fact nursed back to life after it was crashed.

“This is an Undercover car that was first finished in 2015,” he explained.  “It was originally built for Tom Orr’s team but I debuted it – driving it in competition for the first time at the NHRA Gatornationals that year.   Unfortunately, the car was then crashed during a subsequent licensing effort.  So I acquired it and rebuilt it over the next year —and began to race it myself towards the end of 2016.  In 2017/18 we worked all the bugs out of it and began to win some races – including a NHRA divisional and then the NHRA Virginia Nationals (2018).”

Kenopic’s Corvette is in fact the 5th Super Gas class car he has personally campaigned.  His first car was a cool Chevy Monza (dubbed “Showdown”) and that was followed by a Trans-Am, another Corvette (with Rick Stroud) and a Brogie-built Roadster.  

Charlie Kenopic’s first Super Gas car was this Chevy Monza.

Kenopic’s racing career also includes 4 IHRA National event scores — including this memorable win at Cayuga’s AC Delco Canadian Nationals back in 2003.

Kenopic did enjoy some solid success with his “Brogie” — which he drove to his first ever NHRA national event win (2013 @ Maple Grove).  In it he  also earned two significant IHRA circuit national event wins — including Cayuga’s AC Delco Canadian Nationals (2003) and then the North American Nationals at Epping NH the following season.

As is the case with many/most competitors in the NHRA Super Gas class — Kenopic is pretty much a 100% independent.  His operation is funded and based out of the RJS facility which is now owned by Rick Stroud but which was first founded by Kenopic in the 1990’s.  RJS is a very versatile shop that specializes in engine building for racing, diesel, agricultural, commercial and restoration projects. 

“I do get support from some valued associates who help us out (Hoosier Tires – VP Racing Fuels — Select Transmissions),” Kenopic confided.  “But we do everything mechanical ourselves and in-house at our shop.   Rick and I always travel together and simply put I would not be out there racing without his help.  We also have a lot of friends in the USA that lend a hand — we are part of a very close knit racing community — so the actual racing is just part of something bigger that I enjoy.”

With his recent success the name Kenopic has truly joined the ranks of many other prominent Canadian index class racers  (ie: Kenny – Mostowich – Plaizier), but Charlie is taking that notion in stride.  

“In this sport (and class) being successful certainly doesn’t happen every year,” he added.  “So while you do appreciate it when it does happen — the reality is it’s just as easy to fall on your face.  Al Kenny gave me some good advice at one point last year.  He said that “success in drag racing is like riding a wave — sooner or later that wave will hit the beach.”  

Posted by Bruce Biegler

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