Whitby Ontario’s Eric Latino opens the next chapter of his drag racing career this weekend at NHRA Gainesville….

The very successful businessman (President of Global Emission Systems GESI) will be behind the wheel of his newest race car acquisition, which arguably is the most potent of any of the Pro Mod class cars he has raced so far.

Over approximately the last month Eric did strike a deal to purchase a Jerry Bickel-built ’69 Camaro.  This car which was originally built for and raced by Todd Tutterow (2014-16) before then being purchased by Mark Caruso (from New York state).  The Camaro will replace the previous Tim McAmis-built Camaro which Latino ran through last season. 

In advance of Gainesville, Eric did run his new Camaro during the independent World Doorslammers Nationals held at Orlando last weekend where the car qualified mid-pack for Pro Mod eliminations. 

Eric Latino debuted his newest Pro Mod class ride in Florida last weekend.

“This is a proven car — in fact when Alex Laughlin drove it (for Mark) he won $50G a year ago – also at Orlando,” Eric revealed.  “It is a truly good car — it runs so consistent.  I went 5.73 secs at 250 MPH — even thought I lifted at 1200 feet.  So I’m very confident going into this weekend – there isn’t any reason we can’t be a top five qualified car and go some rounds.”

NHRA’s Gainesville outing will also set the foundation for an aggressive new racing season for Latino — which could see him run the entire NHRA E3 Sparks Plugs Pro Mod Series campaign.  

His GESI team will be in fact be aligned with Marc Caruso’s team, part of a 2-car team effort.  Tommy D’Aprile will drive the other team car at this point – a brand new 2021 Camaro – with both cars featuring Al Billes (ABR) supercharged engine programs.

Eric did reveal that his first few events of this season may be somewhat piece meal however.  Due to the COVID pandemic affecting USA/Canada border restrictions his usual and familiar “cast of characters” team will not be with him – at least for the time being. 

“My race team is all American – a consequence of the times,” Eric revealed.  “Lee White (who works closely with Al Billes) will be my crew chief and I’ll get help from Marc’s crew.”

Latino also did confirm that the possibility of him swapping cockpits — into the 2021 model Camaro at some point — exists.

“A future vision for this team does have Marc back driving my ’69 Camaro,” he added.  “After his accident (at Bristol 2019) he wants to get back driving – but wants to concentrate on 1/8th mile and PDRA stuff.  So my ’69 body is a better fit for doing that — and I would run the late model (more aerodynamic) Camaro in NHRA with our engine program.  Decisions about that will come a little later.”

Eric Latino

And just in case you might be wondering about just how serious Eric Latino may be about his drag racing?  

We can confirm that during the past off-season he has completed the purchase of the entire (former NHRA Pro Stock) Gray Motorsports Race Team operations (!) including their reputed R&D shop and retaining some of their skilled and most famous personal.  Eric will thus going forward base his entire racing operation from that facility located in the Charlotte NC area. 

DragRaceCanada will post an additional feature and more details on all that — coming a bit later this season.

Posted by Bruce Biegler

Photos by Phil Hutchison