RICHFIELD, Ohio — Pawuk Family Racing (PFR), previously a single-car drag racing team, has plans to expand to a two-car operation during the upcoming racing season.
Mark 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.
As the team name implies, 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. Mom Bonnie plays a key role as the backbone of the family and team.
Pawuk Family Racing made its official debut last 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.
Most recently, Pawuk reset 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 triumph last year 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 also 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.”