The Paris Family, (left to right), Peter, Dom and Rico. Little Dom (front)
PARIS BROTHERS….Rico and Peter left their mark on drag racing from the late 50’s until the mid 70’s both as winners and innovators. Rico began his driving career at the helm of go-karts in 1958, competing on a circuit that ran throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. But those close-to-the ground creations weren’t enough to satisfy his “need for speed”, so in 1959 he switched to quarter-mile action, beginning with a series of Stockers and Super-Stockers. Then in 1964, he joined forces with his brother Pete and together they purchased their first dragster. It was powered by a blown 301” Chevy on gas and for the next two seasons earned a reputation as somebody to be aware of. With Rico driving and Pete doing the tuning, this car dubbed “Poor boys” made runs in the low 8’s at speeds over 180 miles-per-hour, which was good enough to set a 1320 drag news record in it’s class at that time. In 1966, the brothers moved up once again. This time they moved to Top Gas Eliminator class. They ordered a brand new chassis from Logghe Stamping and had Chris “the Greek” Karamesines build them a blown 392 hemi to power it. Then they went on a rampage, winning races and setting records wherever they chose to compete. One of the first AA/Gas dragsters over 200 and under 7.50 seconds, they won back-to-back UDRA titles for their class. In March of 1968 they journeyed west to Bakersfield for the U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships and won Top Gas honors in their class, by defeated the likes of the Freight Train and Bill “the kid” Scott in the process. But if that wasn’t enough, a few months later the team journeyed to Englishtown, New Jersey and the NHRA Springnationals, where they proceeded to win Top Gas at that one also. Two “majors” in one season, it doesn’t get much better than that!!! Then in 1969, the brothers decided to keep pace with the competition and built a twin-engine front-motored car, which they ran with success for the next year or so. But that all came to a end on Easter Sunday in 1970 at a track in Evansville, Indiana, when a valley cover gaskets blew out during a run, forcing Rico to drive off the end of the asphalt, his protective mask covered in oil, destroying the dragster in the process.
FRIST EVER BLOWN TWIN-MOTORED REAR ENGINE DRAGSTER… Not to be discouraged by what happened to their twin-engine front motored car, the duo paid a visit to Gary Woods shop nearby and not to long thereafter, out rolled a dragster that astounded both racers and fans alike. In their first outing with this engineering marvel, Rico pushed the gas burner to a 7.46-191.00 MPH pass. It eventually ran in the low 7’s with speeds over 200 miles-per-hour before the demise of NHRA Top Gas in 1971. Suddenly, “like a man without a country” Rico and Pete had a car with no class to run in. So once again, being the innovators they are, unveiled the first and only dual motored rear engine top fueler and with only 25% nitro in the tank, clicked a best run of 6.91 at 213 MPH. Though the car had a short career, because in 1973 it was no longer allowed to compete in NHRA Top fuel, it is still a topic of conversation whenever bench racers gather in this part of the country.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD…After Rico and Pete retired from the sport in 1973, they sold the twin engine car and they focused on a thriving body shop business that had been built up over the years in Rockford, Illinois. Though they no longer raced, both kept close to the sport through newspapers and magazines. Then one day out of the blue, the person they had sold the twin to 3 years ago walked into their body shop and asked Rico if he would be interested in buying it back. Needless to say, a deal was quickly consummated. The idea was to run the car with one motor and return to NHRA competition. But in 1977 Rico suffered from a stroke which ended his racing career and the car sat for over 20 years. Then beginning in the mid 90’s, Rico’s son Domenic completely restored the car, even using its original engines for power. Always wanting to drive a car of this caliber, Dom, as his friends call him, carries on the family tradition. Like his father Rico and his godfather Vince Granetilli, his approach to the sport of auto racing has been well thought out. Sponsors include Dom Paris & Sons Collision Center, Harder Signs, Hot Heads Hemi Engines & Parts, Cue-U College of Pool & Billiards, and the rock band Cheap Trick. He is also looking for a major sponsor as well as soliciting appearance bookings for 2014. Incidentally, they have been quite a crowd pleaser at tracks it appeared at throughout the country. In fact, at a special match race in Chicago, Illinois at Route 66 dragway, he turned a time of 6.85 seconds at 220 MPH. The ET and speed was better than his father turned nearly thirty years ago. His determination to succeed is just like his fathers and it’s the mantle he wears in his quest for success in drag racing.
From the Past.... To the Present....
From a Dream... To Reality
Domenic Paris Owner/Driver