A Look Inside Rick DiStefano's Shop

By Jim Luikens

When you live in Calgary, you live far away from most of the IHRA events. Once a year however, the IHRA national tour comes to Alberta for the national event in Edmonton. For Rick DiStefano and others this as close to a "home" race as they have. The week before the Edmonton event Rick's shop was a hubbub of activity as he and others prepared for the big race. Come along with me as I take you inside his shop for a look around at all that was happening.

Just inside one door is the car that started it all for Rick. This is the legendary 1969 Chevelle that he built while still in high school. With a big block Chevrolet engine and nitrous he eventually went as quick as 9.40 seconds on street tires at SIR. And this was through the mufflers. He recently reacquired the Chevelle after it had been out of his possession for some time. Amazingly, it is still in virtually the same condition that it was when he sold it and even carries its original paint scheme.

On the other side of the shop is his famous Shaganappi Corvette. 28-foot tall ceilings allow his entire rig to be parked inside easily and the team works out of it just like they do at the track. The shop's overhead door is raised slightly here to allow for a little air circulation on a very warm day but it will definitely close with the rig inside. Note that the team even lays down their Kiwi tile while they are working in the shop.

Another view of the race car and hauler. Rick and crew chief Andy McIntosh are tuning the car themselves this year after tuning consultant Les Davenport decided to spend some time away from the track. After a slow start while they learned the ropes, their combination really came into its own at the Edmonton event. Rick made qualifying runs of 6.244 and then 6.224 on Friday. That placed him third in the final qualifying order after Saturday's two sessions were lost to rain. On race day runs of 6.246 and 6.339 advanced him to the final four where his 6.248 second elapsed time fell to eventual winner Jim Halsey's 6.201. All in all the DiStefano team made five runs that weekend and got down the track every time.

The Alberta winters are cold and long. Rick builds custom motorcycles to keep himself busy when there is no racing to prepare for. Shown here are two examples that are currently under construction in his shop. Note the team's sheet metal break in the back of the picture.

Besides the sheet metal break the team also has a lathe and milling machine at their disposal. These machines are indispensable when you are far from everything and need to fabricate a widget as quickly as possible. The ability to be self-sufficient is a valuable trait.

Another of Rick's off-season creations debuted at Edmonton. This is the custom cooking grill that he built during the winter. As you can see, it is painted in the same colors as his race car. The grill is self-powered and eventually will be operable by remote control. For now it just sits in one place and cooks. Not just a show piece, it was used to prepare the rib dinner that team members and supporters enjoyed on race day.

This is the 50th anniversary of Rick's company, Rolling Mix Concrete. To celebrate the milestone he had several of his company's vehicles painted in the same color scheme as his race car. One of their custom-painted pickups was used on Sunday as the team's tow vehicle for the race car.

In the foreground is the Tenacity funny car of Alberta's Trevor Lebsack. Because the Lebsack team has been on the IHRA tour all year, and because their shop in Slave Lake, Alberta is actually beyond Edmonton (hard to believe) the team stopped at Rick's shop to prepare their car for the Edmonton event rather than going all the way to Slave Lake and then having to double back to Edmonton.

While the Tenacity funny car chassis was being worked on inside Rick's shop its hauler and support vehicle waited outside. The shop's spacious property has plenty of space to hold multiple racing rigs. After participating at every IHRA event held so far this year Lebsack and the Tenacity team qualified for the first time this season at the Edmonton event.

Another visitor to the DiStefano shop was fellow Canadian Pro Mod racer Carl Spiering. Carl, who would go on to a fine runner-up finish at Edmonton, experienced some tire failure on his transporter during the trip west. Here he is having three tires replaced by the firm that does all of Rolling Mix's tire-related service calls. Having a friend to rely on when you are so far from home is priceless for traveling racers.