Boosting its Profile on the Drag Racing Scene, Coast Packing’s R&E Racing Unit Teams Up with Manny Buginga’s NHRA Pro Mod Operation for 2023 Season
Long Active on the NMCA and PDRA Drag Racing Circuits, Move to NHRA Represents Company’s Expanded Presence in Motorsports
In a major expansion of its presence in motorsports, Coast Packing’s R&E Racing unit has teamed up with Manny Buginga’s NHRA Pro Mod operation, ahead of Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals, April 28-30, the two organizations announced today. NHRA Pro Mod races are telecast nationally Sundays on FS1 and Fox, including on April 30.
R&E Racing will drive Team Buginga’s Pro Mod “Fred” for the remainder of the 2023 NHRA Fuel Tech Pro Mod series. In the new configuration, Cameron Hensley serves as crew chief while Jason Lee, 2022 Radial vs. the World Champion, will continue to serve in the driver and tuner roles.
Coast, the largest supplier of animal fat shortenings in the Western U.S., has long been active in both PDRA (Professional Drag Racers Association) and NMCA (National Muscle Car Association).
“The [Buginga] team does a great job, is extremely passionate and competitive, and it’s a good opportunity to try NHRA Pro Mod,” said Coast CEO Eric R. Gustafson. “With the addition of NHRA Pro Mod to Fox’s live television coverage, the alliance provides incredible exposure for our company and corporate brands.”
Gustafson and his team joined forces after Lee and Buginga brainstormed about the Fuel Tech NHRA Pro Mod season. Buginga had lost a crew chief after the staging duel against reigning NHRA Pro Mod Champion Kris Thorne at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.
For Lee and Gustafson, it’s not their first rodeo. The pair have worked together for more than a decade, winning multiple championships. Given R&E Racing’s familiarity with the ProCharger ProMod setup, partnering with Lee and Buginga made sense — especially in light of Lee’s assumption of driving duties in November 2020. That month, Gustafson yielded the wheel of “The Lard Machine,” the 1969 Coast Packing Pro Mod Camaro.
“We’ve got a great team, and Jason plays a big part of that,” Gustafson said. “We have a long-term friendship with him, his partner Patrick Barnhill and their company PTP Racing. They understand what it takes to win in high-stakes competitions.”
Added Gustafson, “Manny is an exceptionally passionate individual. Like me, he’s extremely competitive – he wants to win, and that fits within our team mentality. We’re looking forward to working as a team with Manny and his crew and putting our resources into the program to win races. Then, hopefully, at the end of the season, one of us earns the NHRA Fuel Tech Pro Mod championship.”
While Gustafson and Team Buginga begin their championship while competing in the four-wide format, he said he welcomes the change and is ready to face it head-on. “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it,” Gustafson said, referencing the formation of the new Pro Mod team in that format. “We might as well just make it as complicated as it can be and challenge ourselves to be the best in one of the most complex and unique racing environments.”
“It takes great people and teamwork to succeed, and we are all working toward a common goal to win,” Gustafson enthused, thanking his team, with a shout-out to “Trucker” John Urgo, his family and his employees.