It’s not often that you really go through every range of emotion possible in three days at that race track, but that is exactly what happened to Paolo Giust over the weekend at the U.S. Street Nationals.
Over the winter Paolo was able to do some upgrades to the car better known as Black Betty, his beautiful Radial vs. World Camaro. With that in mind, no one was sure what to expect out of the car performance wise. In short time, Paolo managed to rip off a career best, a giant wheelstand, almost rolled the car, brushed the wall, and had a hell of a matchup with a new RvW contender Justin Swanstrom.
Paolo has been one of the most consistent radial racers in the class since he first pulled Black Betty off the trailer at Lights Out 8. While he might not be the one dropping a low 60 right this moment, he makes consistent A to B passes and stays solid on the tree. The car showed off for everyone on four occasions last weekend though. The first of which was a jaw dropping personal best of a 3.74 which was not at all expected. Later in the weekend, Paolo decided to once again shoot for the stars and put the car into orbit as you can see below. We joked in the pit about that wheelie control and how it sometimes works.
Friday night was one of the scarier moments that I have experienced. Paolo launches the car, and everything seems ok at 100’ and he drives past me. I turn around and the car is getting loose. Back and forth before planting the driver side tires and the next thing I saw was the entire bottom of the car as it appears it will start to barrel roll at about 300’. He managed to get the car to come back down, and once it did, he scraped it into the wall at the 330’. After scraping the wall, he drove it down track before getting it back to the pits. Paolo’s amazing wife Shannon came by the wall to let me know that Paolo was ok and proud that he was able to save it.
I headed back to the pit area later to check on Paolo, and what I found was a crew busting their butt getting everything back together for him to make it into eliminations. His crew guys were hard at work on the front clip with fiberglass and resin to fix some damage, while Paolo had the welder in hand to touch up a bracket rod. Shocked would be an understatement in describing my thoughts when I saw how minimal the damages were to the car. I thought there would be all types of damages, and as you can see, there was very little. In my opinion it was one of the best saves I have seen.
Once the car was all together, they were able to get the car ready to go into eliminations on Saturday versus the newest heavy hitter in RvW, Justin Swanstrom, who was showing everyone that he was ready to swim in the deep-end of the heads-up racing pool. While Justin defeated Paolo in E1, the fact that Paolo was able to compete and compete nose to nose against Justin, and still dropping the hammer to a 3.80.
Once everything was all said in done, Paolo left in one piece and so did his race car. On Sunday morning, Paolo and the guys got in the rig and headed straight to G-Force Race Cars in New York to get some things buttoned up and ready to go for Lights Out X. You heard that right, Paolo took the car from Florida to New York, and will have the car back in South Georgia two weeks from now ready to compete with the best in the world.