Kaitlin Quartuccio’s taste in racecars has been influenced by her father, small tire superstar Ken Quartuccio, and that’s what led her to build a stunning nitrous-huffing 1964 Chevrolet Nova. This project has been a family affair for the Quartuccio clan and included their closest friends, so it really has a special place in their hearts. The Nova debuted at the Yellow Bullet Nationals over the weekend and showed plenty of potential, running down into the 5.20s out of the gate.
Ken raced a Nova of his own, a 1966 model, during the 1990s and Katlin absolutely adored that car. The impression that was left by that car lasted for decades and played a role in one of Katlin’s first car purchases.
“In 2018, my parents helped me buy a 1963 Nova, which I named Shirley. Shirley was too nice of a street car to make into a racecar. My father is my best friend and racing is what we love to do together, so being able to do this project with him is something I’ll cherish forever. We both have always loved Novas and at the time when we got this car I hadn’t seen too many of this body style out there in the drag racing world,” Katlin says.
Katlin can usually be found at the track helping her father and the rest of the team on whatever vehicle he’s racing that weekend. Kaitlin’s goal has always been to learn about every aspect of drag racing that she could to improve her skills and make herself more valuable at the track. This Nova is the next big step in her drag racing journey.
“I previously had a 1999 Camaro I raced a little bit but it wasn’t the car for me. I wanted something that embodied me in a car, and I could use it to create a name for myself in drag racing. We knew we wanted to build a car rather than buy one turnkey. The first thing we did was source an engine to use in the build, then we found this car on Facebook Marketplace as a rolling chassis just 20 minutes from our house,” Kaitlin explains.
Kaitlin elected to use an LSX454R crate engine for her build and nitrous as the power-adder; this was an easy choice since her dad was famous for running LSX-based engines on the juice. Behind the engine is an M&M Transmission TH400 and torque converter. The Nova’s chassis was built by JW Racing. Skinny Kid Race Cars updated the Nova with a new rearend, bolted in the Carmack Engineering center section, built a four-link suspension, and added a set of Menscer shocks. Derek Burton wired the car and added the MSD ignition system. The Quartuccio family’s tuner, Jamie Miller, took care of the final chassis setup and will tune the car at the track.
Kaitlin has a plan for her progression as a driver and it doesn’t include jumping right into the deep end.
“I’m planning to run the Nova in Ultra Street. My biggest goal with this car is just to get comfortable driving again. These LSX engines are so simple and easy to maintain, it’s something I can make lap after lap in to get my confidence back as a driver, which is the most important thing to me. I expect this car to be consistent, fun, and fast. I want to take the car to tracks in our region and make some trips down south to race, too,” Kaitlin states.
The Nova is ready for a long summer of racing, but to make that happen a lot of people had to step up, and Kaitlin is very thankful for those who have helped her make this dream car come to life.
“First, I need to thank my parents Ken and Denise Quartuccio for everything. I also want to thank my sister Kelsey for the photos of the car. Guys like Jason Gade, Richard Beaumont, Derek Burton, Keith Engling, and his team from Skinny Kid Race Cars made this car come together perfectly. Justin Carmack, Jamie Miller and his son John Miller, John Little, Mark Micke, Mark Menscer helped out with parts and other forms of assistance,” Kaitlin says.
Kaitlin Quartuccio’s Nova looks like a show car but has the heart of a heads-up machine — that’s something that’s easy to see. And so, too, is her pride in and enjoyment of this car, evident in the work she puts into it.