*Courtesy of Pawuk Family Racing*
Mark ‘The Cowboy’ Pawuk is proud to announce the formation of Pawuk Family Racing (PFR), a single-car drag racing team which has plans to expand to a two-car operation during the 2023 racing season. Pawuk will serve as the owner and driver of the team’s flagship entry, the Empaco Equipment Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak, which will compete in the NHRA’s popular Factory Stock Showdown Series (FSS), in addition to the NMCA Factory Super Cars circuit and various one-off events. Pawuk’s son, Kyle, is in the process of completing PFR’s second entry, a Super Gas car, and is targeting a late Spring start. As the team name would imply, PFR is a true family affair. Pawuk’s daughter, Kassandra, who recently attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and has racing aspirations of her own, serves as the team’s social media manager, while mom Bonnie plays a key role as the backbone of the family and team.
Pawuk Family Racing made its official debut over the weekend at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod Factory Stock Classic in Bradenton, Fla., where Pawuk powered his Dodge Drag Pak to a quarterfinal finish. At this week’s NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., Pawuk will compete in the FSS season-opener where he returns as the No. 5 ranked driver in a class that often boasts upwards of 25 entrants per event. Pawuk has a history of success at Gainesville Raceway, including most recently, resetting the facility’s FSS E.T. and mile-per-hour records when he clocked a 7.608-second pass at 183.15 mph during the 2022 event to earn the pole position for the third time in his FSS career.
Pawuk was a fan-favorite in the NHRA’s Pro Stock class from 1985 through 2006 and collected six national event wins before stepping away from professional racing. After a decade-plus hiatus, he returned to the sport in 2018 as a member of Don Schumacher Racing’s FSS contingent where he competed through 2022. While at DSR, Pawuk powered to three poles and three runner-up finishes on the NHRA circuit in addition to his 2022 triumph at the NMCA season-opener in Bradenton, Fla., and his 2018 Norwalk, Ohio NMCA victory from the pole.
The FSS championship-challenger has finished the season ranked in the Top 10 for the past three years, including his career-best third-place finish in 2020. Joining Pawuk in his new venture is his former DSR crew chief, A.J. Berge, who is responsible for tuning Pawuk’s machine. Berge will receive support from Kyle Pawuk, who has been promoted to assistant crew chief. Additionally, the two will have access to tuning assistance from David Barton, whose Ray Barton Racing Engines will be supplying the Dodge power plants in the Empaco Drag Pak.
“Don (Schumacher) is a longtime friend of mine, and I must thank him for being the catalyst for my return to NHRA racing back in 2018 and introducing me to the Factory Stock Showdown class,” said Pawuk, who has a winning record of 33 round wins out of 63 competition rounds. “For five years, Don and his team at DSR gave me a fast and safe car to race week in and week out, and I’m very grateful for that.
“With this next chapter in my racing career, I will have the opportunity to expand on what we were able to build at DSR and grow it with my family. I ran Pro Stock with my dad attending almost every race, and I’m happy to be able to pass the torch to the next generation and race with my kids. Kyle has been an integral part of our Drag Pak operation since the beginning, and he will take on an even greater role with our new PFR team. Not to mention, I’m looking forward to the day when we have the opportunity to make a run for two Wally trophies and double-up.”
PFR is based out of Pawuk’s Empaco Equipment Corporation headquarters in Richfield, Ohio. Pawuk, a resident of Akron, is proud to have the continued support of several Ohio-based organizations, with Ohio Cat and its Ohio Cat The Rental Store division, Enerco Mr. Heater, Summit Racing Equipment, and Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels all signed on to back Pawuk in 2023. Additionally, Emil Pawuk and Associates, Inc. and Seabreeze North Corporation, both Pawuk family organizations, have returned, while Red Line Oil and VP Racing Fuels have joined PFR as associate partners.
“Mr. Heater has been on board since my Pro Stock days, and actually, they’ve been my longest sponsor other than Empaco Equipment,” explained Pawuk. “They were one of my associate sponsors in Pro Stock and were with us when I started my Factory Stock career in 2018. Ohio Cat also joined on in 2018, and I’m proud to say that both Mr. Heater and Ohio Cat have expanded their partnerships to increase their involvement with our team this year.
“I’m also excited to announce that Summit Racing Equipment, which joined our Dodge Drag Pak program last year and was my longtime sponsor in Pro Stock, will also continue on with our new PFR venture. Additionally, we’ve added E3 Spark Plugs and Cometic Gaskets as product partners, so we’re very proud of our sponsor lineup heading into this new race season.”
The Pawuk Family Racing Empaco Equipment Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak competes next at this weekend’s NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway with FSS qualifying kicking off at 12:45 p.m. on Friday, March 10.