November-December

19 spend, how you do it, or how long it takes, but the one thing I heard when you were doing it the other way was I made a mistake. I just don’t want to hear those words.’ It stopped me in my tracks because howmany guys get to go carte blanche like this?” said Perno. It took about three years to build his Mustang “because I’m a little OCD and just wanted it done right so that, no matter what, it was always going to be right,” he continued. A vision to win is the understatement of the century. “The first weekend at NHRA with the new car we set the 8th mile record. Two weeks later, we set the quarter mile NHRA record. After the season, I pulled it apart. In the spring, we went out and lowered the quarter mile record again. We raced it all summer—not many rounds because we were breaking it in, but we raced,” said Perno. “Then in 2013, we went to Ohio and took home a Wally in our Super Stock/CS class. It made for quite a good drive home knowing you showed up as fastest car in your class that day,” he continued. But that sure didn’t stop Perno frompursuing improvements. “I took everything apart again because we were going really fast and I wanted to make sure I could lower the record substantially next time. In spring 2015, we went to NJ and lowered the Super Stock/CS record to 9.23. At that time, there was nothing running a 9.23 and ours was the fastest record. Because of my quest to go faster, I broke three engines over the next couple years. It took a year and half to rebuild and get our bearings straight regarding the plan with our race program. I realized I needed to back off a little bit in order to get back to where we used to be,” he said. And recalibrate, he did. Unfortunately, hitting the refresh button came with one “Venice is one of those customers who is a true partner in business. His feedback over the years has helped us identify areas we can improve and become a better supplier to our customers. We have worked with Venice for several years doing what we can to help Venice and Lorraine accomplish their racing goals. His recent success has motivated many of our folks who follow his racing career”. - Ralph Ruzzi - VP:Canada Sales, Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. more major setback. Soon thereafter, Perno’s car caught fire on a return road at the track. Though devastating, “Instead of putting the car in the garage and shutting the door, that Sunday night I had the engine and transmission out and was cleaning everything. We were back at Norwalk eight days later and qualified,” he said. “The goal was to just get back because if you don’t get back quickly, it could become a year again. The car is not as pretty as it used to be, but it got us back into the rhythm,” he continued. More importantly, Perno knew he was in a safer spot to compete. This time, he had his sights set on a NHRA competition in his own backyard at TorontoMotorsports. Evenmore tempting, the track record was still open. “So, I went home and I’m taking everything apart, putting it back together, and I’m confident that we’re going to set that record with a happy and healthy car,” said Perno. But it wouldn’t come without sacrifice. The race ran back-to-back with the U.S. Nationals and if Perno was going to break the record in Toronto and head to Indianapolis, then he was going to be closed at the shop for nine of 12 business days. “Losing volumes in sales and spending money at the track hand over fist—that’s a big deal (for a business owner). Plus, it was a lot to orchestrate. I had to make sure that all my ducks were in a row and that my car could set the record at one track and get down the next strip,” he said. Come race day, the stars were aligned and it was Perno’s opportunity to shine. The only thing more sentimental than setting a drag record is doing it at home. For him, it was a blissful feeling to do so in Toronto, where it hadn’t been done for over 25 years. Coincidentally, there was little time to celebrate because Perno had eight hours to get to Indy and set up for the U.S. Nationals. “We made time trial on Wednesday. Something went wrong with the engine and we had half of it apart on Thursday. Friday, we won our class. And next thing you know, we’re getting the car ready to compete in Sunday’s eliminator series. I would have been happy to go 3-4 rounds, but wemade it all the way to the 5th round where there were eight cars left out of 175ish,” he said proudly. Even when Perno has every reason to bask in glory and celebrate such accomplishments, his humble nature instead has him busy thanking everyone who has been along for the ride all these years, especially his devoted wife. “You know, she gives up a lot so I can do this. We aren’t the nicest house on the block and we don’t have the best things, but she is happy to see me happy,” he said with a tenderness in his voice. “It’s all about your perspective of the journey, you know— those who support you and the fact that you don’t quit,” he continued. “And I never quit anything. I may take a little longer, but I don’t walk away. I refuse to let a piece of metal beat me, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to accomplish what we have as a business and at the track.” His speed shop may be the backdrop to his racing career, “because thatMustang of mine eats money, you know,” said Perno, “but the hostile environment usually associated with racing cars, that’s not existent in my store.” There’s nothing but love inside The Performance Cellar—a love of parts, a love for the sport, and thy fellow racer. Shop Profile • Performance Cellar

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