Pro Car Associates was founded in 1969 by a pair of young enterprising engineers with a passion for drag racing, Chuck Wright, owner of Automotive Engineering, and Jim Cavallero, who also owned Diamond Racing Engines (later to become Diamond Racing Pistons). Their focus was to make a strong impact upon the motorsports marketplace, which was undergoing explosive growth.
They chose to enter drag racing’s flourishing Pro Stock class with a 1970 Camaro built and prepared by Pro Car, and driven by rookie Jim Hayter. The effort was highly competitive, with Hayter running consistently in the 9.70s, and a threat to win on any given Sunday. Hayter’s effort in the new team’s Camaro did not go unnoticed, winning the National Hot Rod Association’s Rookie of the Year award for the 1970 season.
The success of the Pro Stock effort placed the Pro Car name at front of the ranks of engine and chassis builders of the period, and served as a springboard for both men to build their careers. Although the partnership was short lived, and Chuck bought Jim’s interest in Pro Car, the two have remained close friends.
But Chuck Wright’s career did not start with the Pro Stock effort. As a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, he fulfilled his military service obligation, and then joined General Motors Detroit Diesel division as a field service engineer. His passion for the internal combustion engine started his successful drag racing career, with a 1963 Pontiac B/MP in the highly competitive NHRA Modified Eliminator category.
He moved to the Chevrolet Division, working on engine development and learning the art of dyno testing, and utilizing the dyno at night to massage his own engines. His development talents led him to a factory Pontiac Tempest A/MP (A Modified Production) in 1964, which was powered by a Chevrolet 427 engine he had massaged. From 1964 to 1969, Wright was a force to contend with in Modified Eliminator, winning races and establishing the standard in both elapsed time and miles per hour in A/MP. His abilities became well known outside of drag racing, particularly from NASCAR and other oval track series. Chuck’s reputation for clear thinking and the ability to provide solutions to unique problems, provided him with the opportunity to work with the legendary Smokey Yunick, as well as the all-conquering McLaren Can-Am team.
Through the decades of the 1970s and 80s, with Chuck at the helm of the Akron, Ohio location, Pro Car Associates was a total automotive performance operation, building drag racing cars, and building not only drag racing engines, but engines for a variety of other motorsports applications, including circle track and marine racing.
By the mid-1980s, the Pro Car operation began to evolve into a full service automotive facility, doing vehicle service, primarily specializing in high performance, as well as doing machining and engine building. While the company was continuing to grow, Chuck’s desire to pursue the leading edge of engine development drew him back to Detroit, where he oversaw several major engine development Programs for General Motors, plus focusing upon the technical service aspects of the newly formed General Motors Performance Parts (GMPP) organization. Pro Car continued to operate in his absence, with Chuck monitoring operations from Detroit.
After four years in Detroit, Chuck returned to Akron. While Pro Car was his base of operations, and the core of his business, he continued to work closely with GMPP on engine development Programs, plus related components.
During the period in the early part of the first decade of the 21stCentury, Chuck was also developing a cutting edge dynamometer facility where he could accurately test a wide variety of engine packages in controlled atmospheric conditions. His goal was to take his concepts and test them in conditions mirroring real world usage.
As the calendar moved into the 21st Century’s second decade, Chuck’s son Chris, himself a talented engineer, joined the business. Chris, with a background of working in the electronics industry, is setting a course into the future…building upon his father’s past experience, set upon the bedrock of paying strict attention to the basics, and adding his electronics expertise to that successful formula.
Today, the focus of Pro Car Associates is upon pushing the development of the internal combustion engine forward in a number of directions for competition and everyday use, with a goal to improve both power output and operating efficiencies.
The Pro Car vision is to develop engine and drivetrain system solutions and products for today and into the future.