Pisano Racing History

News Team 1974 Vega AA/FC History Schedule Sponsors Links Contact

Pisano Racing History  

I am not the one who made the history, but I am proud to carry it on.

The Pisano Brothers created the history. Joe, was the car salesman, deal maker, and owner of Venolia Pistons. Carmen, (my father) the “strong arm” (as he was called by Joe), a self made engineer and owner of Wedge Engineering. Tony, a custom car painter, and owner of Pisano Brothers Powder Coating. Frank, the service manager and now President of Venolia Pistons. Sam, the General Contractor and now computer guru at Venolia Pistons.

The brothers started racing on the streets of Southern California in the late 50s. Some of the cars they raced were a 1937 Buick, a 1930 Model A, and a 1955 Chevy. 

By the early 60s, they found their way to the salt flats and ran at Bonneville with a 1953 Studebaker. In 1964, they set a two-way speed record of 201 MPH that stood for 22 years. 

In 1965 – 1966, Joe went into a partnership with Bones & Dubach running a 1933 Willys Gasser. 

During 1967 – 1968 the brothers built their first Funny Car, a 1967 Camaro driven by Frank. Soon afterwards, they purchased Doug Thorley's Corvair. Unfortunately, Frank crashed that Corvair into Randy Walls. They then went on to build a new Corvair which Frank drove for a short time, and then Sush Matsubara took over driving in 1970. The Corvair was destroyed soon after at OCIR, which began a series of Pisano & Matsubara cars.

Over the span of six years, the Pisano & Matsubara team experienced great success, especially on the divisional and match race circuit.  In 1972, in the Vega-bodied entry, Sush became the first Funny Car driver to set the national record below 6.50 seconds July 8, 1972 during the WCS event at Lions Dragstrip with a 6.49. In 1973, the team obtained sponsorship from model company Revell and their flamed yellow Vega was the among the company's more popular offerings.  Sush retired from drag racing in 1975, as a result of injuries related to a non-racing motorcycle accident.

Joe continued on with his Funny Car program, campaigning a variety of beautiful entries along with a host of new drivers. Drivers over the years included; Jake Johnston, Tom Ridings, Pat Foster, Denny Savage, Al Segrini, Mike Dunn, and Glenn Mikres. Dunn was Joe’s most successful driver, having earned for Team Pisano a U.S. Nationals win in 1986.  With Carmen’s mechanical knowledge, he helped Joe and Mike set the NHRA Funny Car national speed record in 1987 with the first 280 MPH pass during the national event in Dallas, Texas, which at the time was 7 MPH faster then the next closest competitor and held for almost two years.  The team went on to more final rounds appearances, earning a runner up finish at the 1987 U.S. Nationals and followed by wins at the 1988 Supernationals, 1988 Fall Nationals, 1989 Cajun Nationals, and 1989 Southern Nationals.  The team finished in the top 10 NHRA points from 1987-1989 despite running a limited schedule.

Following Joe's sudden passing during the Mile High Nationals in 1991, the brothers and I took over the operation and ran the car for a few years with Dale Pulde driving. We did alright on the limited budget and schedule, but the rising costs to keep pace with the competition forced the team to part ways by the end of 1994.

2007 Firebird Raceway - Nightfire Nationals

In July 2003, we lost my father Carmen. About a year later, I attended a Goodguys nostalgia drag racing event with friends George Doty and Larry Pettit. It was during that event I started thinking about building a car. That lead to a dream which convinced me to build a tribute car to Joe, Carmen, and Sush. 

Two years later, my dream became a reality thanks to the support and effort expended by Todd Mallory, 'Big Mike' Mallory, and Mike Filitti; the Pisano & Matsubara 1974 Vega was completed.  Sadly, Sush passed away in the summer of 2006, just months before the car's debut at the California Hot Rod Reunion. 

If not for the Pisano Brothers' rich history in the sport and their influence in my life, I would not have been inspired to do this. So thank you, Joe, Carmen, Tony, Sam and Frank.

Danny Pisano

Frank and Joe Pisano


Site design by Drag Strip Girl Designs

 Copyright Pisano Racing

 All logos and images are reserved