Commitments are never easy. In these days and times, it takes a monumental effort to keep things meshed. If it’s a marriage, a growing family or a drag racing team each and everyone involved must work together to stay positive, push the boundaries of their comfort zone, make certain that everyone is doing what's best for the couple, the family, the driver or the team. It's never easy and it takes a concerted effort but the ultimate reward will always be magical.
The Polish Calibrated Team Logo!
That magic exists today with the Pol Cal Racing team of the Empire State. Four generations of racers by the name of Kwasniewski that have been or will be competing in the Pol Cal Racing team’s drag racing venture is a linage to be reckoned with.
The family history starts with John, Sr., Jack's father, who believed in laying down a firm foundation of hard work along with good ethics that his son and his grandson took to heart. Senior and his brother founded a construction company that specialized in airport construction that his son Jack and his grandson John would continue to operate well into 2012.
Jack had a passion for quarter mile racing. His drag racing career began in the ‘50s and ran well into the ‘70s while competing at tracks like Niagara Dragway, Lancaster National Speedway, New York International Raceway Park and Cayuga Dragway, racking up frequent visits to the Winner's Circle. He spent his free time punishing the locals and a few Canadian racers too. Like most, his enthusiasm spilled over into the street scene and there were plenty of opportunities to teach some of the local boys a lesson or two.
John the III, aka Johnny K’s first memories of his dad drag racing were with Jack's '48 Anglia. Johnny says "That's the car I remember. I wasn't old enough yet but every time Dad would go to the races, I would sneak into his car, sit in the back seat and hope he wouldn't find me. That's what got me started."
Johnny K is giving a little listen as he warms up the nostalgia Corvette - One of Johnny K's toys, the blown small block '48 Angelia
Work came before play but with the construction company, Johnny K found an interest in the trucks that his father used in the business. One thing lead to another and soon he recognized a very specialized niche that he tenaciously pursued. He built and started competing in the Monster Trucks series in 1985, as the wheel man of the "Buffalo Tremor" Chevrolet 4 X 4 monster truck. Johnny went on to race monster trucks all over the country, competing until 1995, when he realized that the family business needed his undivided attention so he sold the truck and stepped away from the monster truck series.
Johnny said, "During that time I went on to pursue another passion, building street cars and hot rods and got the drag racing itch. I ended up with a '32 Bantam altered but always wanted to drive a Funny Car. Soon after that I contacted Dennis Salzwimmer of the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car circuit and ended up purchasing a 1980 nostalgia Corvette fiberglass body out of Michigan. We mounted it on the altered chassis and the rest is history, now we're racing funny cars."
Shifting gears, the crew chief of Pol Cal Racing is Chris McBride. Chris fell in love with cars at the tender age of four because his father, Ronnie, owned a number of street rods and classic cars, one of which included, ". . .a '55 Chevy 210, two door post car, straight axle, done-up gasser, old school car." Chris said that's what fueled his interest. He exuberantly proclaimed, "I grew up with racing, hot rods and street cars just became my passion."
Chris applies the squeeze bottle of alcohol to prime the first stage for firing the "Mighty Mouse."
When Chris was 19 years old he began his walk down the crew chief lane with a friend who had a '68 Dodge Dart bracket drag car. They campaigned that car for a couple of seasons at local events and that helped get his foot in the door. With that first opportunity as a crew chief behind him, Chris was invited to fill the position of crew chief for a diesel pickup truck team in which they competed in the Western New York Pro Pulling Series and the Empire State Pullers Association for six seasons. The valuable experience that he gained while working with this team opened up new avenues which would provide him with another unique opportunity.