Canadian Pro Mod racer Eric Latino has vaulted from the season gate in electrifying style….

The now “very veteran” class racer (from Port Perry ON) had a pretty sparkling opening act for his 2017 race season when he upped the overall performance anti within the Pro Mod class genre.

Eric may have literally blind-sided his competition a bit during last weekend’s NHRA Amalie Oil Gatornationals participating within that event’s J&A Service-presented Pro Mod portion. Although he did not win the event – Eric did rewrite the NHRA record books and recorded the quickest ET in class history — at a numbing 5.727 secs!

Latino’s performance came racing a new car configuration for his race team this season. Instead of his familiar “Team Green” Chevy Camaro – his team entered the Gatornationals event equipped with a different Chevy Camaro, one that was acquired very recently and which had formally been driven by Colorado’s Mike Knowles.

Racing a newly acquired Camaro – Canada’s Eric Latino reset the NHRA Pro Mod World ET record last weekend!

“Jim Whitely had purchased this car from Mike and had sent it to Tim McAmis with plans to race it himself,” Eric revealed. “But then he decided to keep his ’69 Chevelle and sent the car to me to sell it for him. Later he approached me and said – why don’t you stick you power train into the new car and try it out? So we did exactly that. With the new rules for NHRA supercharged cars this season we wanted to try some new strategy. We tested at both Orlando and Bradenton before we came to the Gatornationals. ”

Pro Mod class racing at Gainesville was a super swift program with Eric qualifying right on the bump (#16) at 5.855 secs. From there Eric won his first round convincingly over the low qualifier Steve Jackson — hitting a career best 5.779 secs.

But then in round #2 Eric Latino proceeded to better even that and reset the NHRA national elapsed time record — albeit during a losing effort. Latino was credited with a stunning pass of 5.727 seconds (the quickest ever seen in NHRA) while racing along side Troy Coughlin’s turbocharged Jegs Corvette from Ohio. Troy did manage to rain on Eric’s performance parade when he combined a brilliant .008 RT with a winning time of 5.758 secs to just edge out Eric’s record quick run.

“Setting the NHRA record is obviously very exciting – that’s an unbelievable accomplishment for us,” he added. “I still can’t believe we ran as good as we did. I am so grateful to be able to work with Al Billes and for him to provide up the latest and greatest technology.  I am also grateful to have my crew chief Paolo D’Alimonte, Car Chief, Pete Olin, Matt Latino, Gord Campbell, Paul Basil for all of their hard work and dedication over the past 4 years.  These guys are amazing!”

“We always knew we had the power to run this good but never really had the time to test,” he continued. “So we committed to go to the invited test session (at Orlando) and then to Bradenton and that really helped. We were trying new set ups and that eventually worked out for us.  We doing a few things that we never had the chance to do last year.”

The fast season start is for sure an very inspirational point for Eric’s race team. While his season plans (at this point) do not include running the full NHRA J&A Services Pro Mod tour – expectations are that he will attend 8 of those season events.

Latino, who is the President of Global Emissions Systems Inc., was also quick to cite his very valued associations with sponsors and backers including: NorthStar Battery, Quality Plus Compressors, GP Audio, Global Emissions, JRI Shocks, RCD Engineering, Vibrant Performance, Kooks Headers, Kendal Motor Oil, NGK Spark Plugs, Manley Valves, Leander’s Racing Clutches, Redline Automotive, Don Butt Auto Body, Specbilt, GiTi Tire and Blueprint Engines.

“And of course I need to thank Jim Whitley for for planting this idea and then giving me the opportunity to try out this car in the first place!” Eric added.

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler