With an all-original down to the paint, 15,000-mile Hemi Cuda in the garage at his Woodbridge, Ontario home, John Carinci considers his Pro Stock-powered racecar its “evil twin.” There’s also a reproduction 484 c.i. Hemi Cuda parked alongside that he uses for “fun on the weekends” and clearly confirms his Mopar madness.
Carinci had to go through extensive Blue Oval and Bowtie phases, though, before finally seeing the Pentastar light. As an inner-city youth in Toronto of the ‘70s, he grew up in a Mustang family, often riding shotgun in his father’s 1970 Mach I or by age 13, even stealing rides in his uncle’s ’69 Mach I. “I used to drive that thing all over the place when he wasn’t around,” Carinci admits.
He heeded the Camaro calling as he matured, however, starting with a 454-equipped ‘68 SS. “It was basically a Super Pro car, a street car that got too radical for the street. I got my license pulled by the police and that’s when I decided to take it to the track instead.”
After quickly improving from 10.80s to 10-ohs, Carinci decided in 1983 to step up with a full-tube chassis welded up at his home shop with skills picked up as a young teenager from his late father, a welder by trade. “Everything was done in-house, including the body and paint, engine building, chassis work, everything; I was just an eager beaver who wanted to learn it all and do it all,” he recalls.
Carinci raced until 1989, when he sold the car and took a couple of years off before building another street Camaro with the racecar’s old motor. Naturally, it slowly morphed into a competition piece, too, and Carinci eventually won a pair of Canadian “fastest street car” championships with it in ’93 and ’94 before pulling back from racing yet again.
After 10 years on the sidelines, the Mopar bug finally bit. Carinci says he’d had enough of the cookie-cutter Camaro scene and wanted something different, something he wouldn’t see every time he looked across the lanes or down pit road. “So I bought a 1970 Cuda, a 383 air car from California,” he says. “It had a perfect, rust-free shell, so I acid-dipped it and we built a 25.2 spec chassis for it to run a class called Easy Street with the OSCA (Ontario Street Car Associations), which basically allows single-stage nitrous up to 500 cubic inches and a DOT tire.”