GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 7, 2001 - After nearly a decade of competing as a Sportsman racer, GMC Sonoma driver Mike Corvo Jr. has made a smooth transition to the NHRA Pro Stock Truck category driving for championship chassis builder Rick ...
GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 7, 2001 - After nearly a decade of competing as a Sportsman racer, GMC Sonoma driver Mike Corvo Jr. has made a smooth transition to the NHRA Pro Stock Truck category driving for championship chassis builder Rick Jones. The 31-year-old rookie driver from Park Ridge, Ill., had his baptism under fire at the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., and is now prepared to tackle the long-haul of the 14-event schedule, ever confident of securing victory before year's end.
"This Pro Stock Sonoma is the best thing I've ever driven," Corvo said. "It really didn't hit me until I got back from Pomona what a great ride it was. It was the most fun and completely different from what my Firebird was in the C-altered class, which is as close to a truck as it can be.
"This GMC is smoother and faster than anything I've ever been in and now I know what they mean by a professional-grade truck. A Pro Stock Truck can be a real challenge to drive, and if you're not on top of things, it can get wicked. I was actually somewhat pleased with our performance in Pomona being my first race and all. I've always wanted to be in a professional class and I've proved to myself that I can do it."
Corvo got his introduction into the world of high-performance automobiles by spending his teen years rebuilding a racecar with his dad. In 1993 he met Jones for the first time and the two have maintained a relationship of mutual respect ever since. Last December, Jones selected Corvo to replace him behind the wheel of the Motorhomes Unlimited GMC.
"From day one we hit it off real well," Corvo said. "I ordered my first car from him. From that day he always kept in touch with me and helped me at the races with my car. His son Rickie, who was only seven years old at the time, would help me with the front end of the car until my wife could get there after work. It was just one of those deals where the relationship clicked from the very beginning."
When he's not racing, Corvo spends the rest of his time running Midtown Carpet Service, a Chicago-area business his family has owned for the last 30 years. And if that's not enough to keep him busy these days, Corvo and his wife Phedra celebrated the arrival of their second child on February 6, a little girl by the name of Madeline Noel.
"I was really nervous in Pomona because we knew that it could happen at anytime and here I was clear across the continent," explained Corvo. "But I at least made sure my cell phone was turned off when I staged at the starting beams. I was lucky enough to make the delivery with about eight hours to spare. I got off the plane and went straight to the hospital.
"The hardest part of any race weekend is leaving my family. They travel with me for the most part, but this year with the new baby they won't be going to Gainesville, Houston or Las Vegas. I hate to say it, but they get the worst end of the deal. My son Michael really misses going to the races. He's only four but he knows everything about drag racing. Once we get back to Joliet in June, they'll get to start going again."
Looking ahead to the Gatornationals and the remainder of the season, Corvo's goals are ambitious yet simple. But his infectious enthusiasm is certain to carry him a long way and quite possibly into the winner's circle.
"I'm really looking forward to Gainesville," Corvo said. "We're going to be good. My goal is to qualify in the top-half of the field and try and match our Pomona showing, winning first round and moving on to second round. The air and the racetrack are going to be excellent and with horsepower from Reher-Morrison, we're going to shine.
"For the rest of the season, I want to stay in the top-10 in points and not to go backwards at any time. I know that's going to be hard because Pro Stock Truck is a tough field. But my goal is to continue to better myself as a driver and make sure that the few mistakes I made in Pomona don't happen again."
The 32nd annual Mac Tools Gatornationals on March 15 - 18 is the second race on the 14-event NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck schedule. General Motors, the most successful automobile company in the history of the series, will make its presence felt through the participation of Pontiac, GMC and Chevrolet.
"A lot of guys have raced in this class since the beginning. They're all veterans and it's kind of intimidating, but it makes it more exciting. When you can go out there and leave on someone you've respected for so many years and then beat them across the finish stripe, that's exciting."