Craig Gualtiere’s interest in class racing has lead to this ultimate Super Stock Chevy II, which is currently Number One in the 2018 National Hot Rod Association World Championship points competition.
He started at a young age around his family and motorsports. His mother and father both competed in autocross with a local Texas Corvette club. His fondest memories from an early age included those times spent with his father. Though his father died when he was 3 1/2 years old, Craig has many visions of dad firmly entrenched in his memory.
Later in his youth, a gentleman who had a drag car moved in down the street. “Just being an inquisitive kid, I was always in his garage,” Craig adds. “I went down and bugged him, handed him wrenches, and would go to the dragstrip with him as often as he would let me.”
By his teens, Craig was completely immersed in drag racing, and his first job was working in the staging lanes at Amarillo Dragway.
In high school, I built my first street/strip ’66 Chevy II post-car with a 327 that ran in the 13’s. – Craig Gualtiere
Craig’s involvement in drag racing continued to evolve as he landed a job working on the NHRA national event trail as a trackside representative with Fram/Autolite corporation. After more than a decade of NHRA life, he slowed down and went back to Texas. He began to race a dragster, and developed friendships with many racers in Competition Eliminator and Super Stock competition.
“My real racing career began in 2010, after I was financially able to afford to do what I always wanted to do,” he says. “I ran a Super Comp dragster for a year, and then stepped away from that, wanting to get into Competition Eliminator-class racing. I partnered with a buddy on a C/Econo Dragster for a couple of years. We were planning to split the seat time, but after working the wrenches for three years with him, I never got to drive.”
“As most partnerships go, the partner bought one thing, I bought another, and we went our separate ways,” Craig says. “I then got hooked up with engine builder and friend, Greg Stanfield.”
Craig found his current Chevy II in 2014, and rushed to buy it when a friend, Duane Robinson, sent him a single photo. “As soon as I saw the car, all of my memories of my high school hot rod came back to me,” Craig continued. “My love for the Chevy II, combined with Super Stock racing, had me wanting this car very much.”
“I’ve owned a coffee shop for 20-years, which keeps me very busy and unable to do what I need to do when it comes to preparing for weekend racing events,” he told us. “Greg Stanfield built a new engine for my Chevy II, and one thing led to another. I was able to hire the family team of Greg, Aaron, Mike, and Cynthia Stanfield to help me go racing.”
He had a busy season in 2017. “I ran eight divisional point-races and six national events,” Craig says. “Only a couple of other people did more, and Dave Ramsey does it for a living, so that puts it into perspective.”
Super Stock race cars are highly modified by NHRA class rules, but the vehicle must retain the correct engine block, cylinder heads, and carburetor. The engine in the Chevy II is a 327ci small-block built by the Stanfield’s, with a highly modified, rules-correct Quadrajet carburetor. Power is transferred via a Coan Racing Powerglide transmission, Reactor flexplate, and ATI Performance torque converter.
The class-legal chassis was built by East Texas Race Cars with a Lamb four-link suspension and brakes on the rear, and a Lamb front suspension and brakes. The Chevy II sits on Hoosier slicks and front-runners, mounted on Weld Racing wheels.
Though he doesn’t feel he had much success last year, Craig had two NHRA class wins – one in Dallas and one at the Indy US Nationals. As 2018 gets underway, he started out with a class win at the Gatornationals, and qualified Number One at the No Problem Raceway NHRA points race. The career-best e.t. for Craig is a 9.51 seconds. “According to Nitro Joe’s Class Racing Statistics book, he has my Chevy II as the fastest SS/GA car in the country.”
“Now that I’ve got a year under my belt and the car is really coming around, I’m hopeful that I’ll have some racing luck,” Craig says. “It has been so invaluable to me to have Greg Stanfield teaching me the Super Stock class ropes. This year just seems to be going really well for me.”
Hopes for a good 2018 are looking bright. He scored three round wins at the first NHRA South Central Division event at No Problem Raceway and won the second event at Royal Purple Raceway. Gualtiere rowed through the elimination rounds against many standout Super Stock competitors including Pete Peery, Jerry Emmons, and J Allen Sherman.
At press time, Craig called with the news that he is again on a huge roll. At the NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway, he scored yet another Super Stock final-round appearance, which puts him currently at number one in the national points standings.
“It’s been just a good, awesome journey. The cool thing about this car is that I am rekindling memories from my first Chevy II,” Craig adds. “I have always loved them. They’re so different than what everyone else has.”
The Chevy II is eye-catching and draws a crowd at the events. “It’s just a lot of fun, and I am having a great time. Let’s just hope things continue to go my way this year,” Gualtiere says. He’ll definitely be sticking with Super Stock for awhile. He just loves the cars that compete in the class, especially his own Chevy II.