For Carl Casanova of Glendale, California, cars were a part of his life from the day he was born. His father was a mechanic, and wouldn't ever fix anything for him, instead choosing to help him fix it. He was into everything that could be taken apart. This was the first sign that he would become an engineer. His sister even had the bug, and sported a '67 Camaro Carl had his eye on. In 1981, the day came she needed to sell the Camaro because she needed a truck. It so happened that Carl had a '71 El Camino to put up as an even trade. Carl didn't feel too guilty about the trade since the 210,000 miles on the Camaro left it in need of a new engine that he had replaced for her in the past. Carl was still a teenager when he got the car, so he could only do minor upgrades including swapping the tired Powerglide for a TH350 transmission. He would have liked to do a manual swap but he just didn't have the time, money, or knowledge at the time. He drove the Camaro though high school and most of college until the rearend finally let go after over 300,000 miles. With his focus on earning his degree in engineering, he couldn't get around to fixing it for some time.
This is when the story takes a twist. Normally, when a guy gets married and has kids the project gets put on hold until the kids are in college. This was not the case for Carl. His wife helped entertain the kids and get him enough free time to play cars.
In 1996, he returned to his Camaro, and starting rebuilding it. He traded the 327 for an LS1 to give it the combination of reliability and power he wanted. The 300 hp that these engines produced from the factory wasn't enough, so he planted a Magnuson supercharger on top for a near 200hp gain. The sloppy automatic got thrown out for a T-56. Most people trash the stock shifter for an aftermarket unit, but Carl found that upgraded shifter springs from McMaster Carr at $4 a piece gave the shifter the feel he was looking for. With a strong running small-block and six-speed transmission, Carl needed to try it out at the track. He was hooked after just one lap. Now he makes it out to Buttonwillow and Willow Springs Raceway in California about four times a year. He doesn't go to many car shows, but he makes sure to get to any Goodguys events where there is an autocross event. He likes to drive his kids around to help give them a taste of what's to come for them.