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Regina Puckett is Passionate About Making Progress in Proform Rumble

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by Mary Lendzion and Fastest Street Car Staff


It is safe to say that Regina Puckett loves Camaros.

She is especially fond of those from the 1960s, but she appreciates all of the model years, and she doesn’t see herself climbing into the cockpit of a different type of car in the foreseeable future.
 
Puckett, who currently campaigns a 2010 Inferno Orange Camaro SS, held her own in the 5th Generation Camaro Challenge category in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series before stepping up to the NMCA Proform Rumble category in 2015. She has earned top-three and top-ten finishes in points, and after securing wins at the NMCA races in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, and a runner-up in Illinois in 2022, she is, at the time of this interview, in contention for the season championship going into the final race of 2022 in Indiana.
 
Puckett tells herself that persistence pays off, and she is right about that. She sets goals, she works hard to achieve them and the proof is in the results.
 
Away from racing, Puckett owns a construction company in Panama City, Florida with her husband, Jeff Puckett. She takes care of design and budget, while her husband takes care of building and construction.
 
They also enjoy traveling, and have most recently visited Alaska, Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. They are currently planning a trip to Croatia.
 
Read on for more about Puckett, a Florida State Seminoles fan who refers to herself as a very detail-oriented person, whether she is racing or working. 



 
YOU SHARED THAT YOUR MOM WAS INTO MUSCLE CARS YEARS AGO. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE STORIES SHE TOLD YOU ABOUT THEM WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
 
My mom, Judy, had three muscle cars that she drove on the street, including two GTOs and an Oldsmobile 442. While she was pregnant with me, her GTO caught on fire, and luckily, neither of us were injured. Mom had all of those cars before I was born, and then when I was three, she bought a Ford Thunderbird, and I got to help her pick out the baby blue color with a white interior. When I developed an interest in muscle cars, she told me that I probably got my need for speed from her, and that’s probably true, because she had told me stories about the cars, where she drove them and why she liked them so much.
 
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST MUSCLE CAR?
 
I got a 1987 Camaro when I was in high school, with help from my mom and grandmom. It had a V6 engine and an automatic transmission, and it was bright blue. It was really nice, and I loved it. I started taking it to a track near our home in Florida, Powerhouse Dragstrip, and it was the first car I ever raced. I actually won a lot of races in the Sportsman class, which was a No Box class. I was running high 10s in the eighth-mile. I would have cried when I got rid of it if it hadn’t been for the fact that I replaced it with a 1993 Camaro Z28.
 
WHAT WILL YOU TELL US ABOUT THE 1993 CAMARO Z28?
 
It was brand-new. It was the first of the Fourth Gen Camaros, and it had a V8 engine. It was black with a grey interior, and it was the first car I had purchased without having help paying for it, because I had graduated from Florida State University, and I had a job teaching high school English. I took that car to the track, too, and I made it onto the track’s Bracket Finals teams twice, and went to Atlanta and Montgomery for those races. I finished in second- and third-place in points a couple of times, and I was running low 9s in the eighth-mile. Then I took about ten years off to spend time with my stepchildren, and I also have six grandchildren. I didn’t race from 1999 to 2010.


 
WHEN DID YOU PURCHASE THE INFERNO ORANGE 2010 CAMARO SS THAT YOU CAMPAIGN NOW?
 
I built and ordered it in the summer of 2009 at a dealership near our home. It was built just for me, and it had a L99 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission. I happily put 25,000 miles on its odometer hauling around town the first year, and then I started taking it to the track to test and get a baseline. Back then, it ran 13.20s in the quarter-mile and 8.30s in the eighth-mile. It’s funny because I came really close to ordering a Challenger, and when it was announced that Camaros were coming back, that was all it took for me to decide I wanted one. I’m a Camaro girl. I thought the Inferno Orange would be rare, but a lot of people ended up buying the car in that color.
 
WHAT WERE THE FIRST MODIFICTIONS YOU MADE TO THE CAR?
 
The first thing we did was swap exhaust to make it sound even better. We also did a cold-air intake, and then left it alone for a while. Eventually, in 2011, I sent it to a shop for a cam upgrade because I had decided I wanted to run the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series. The engine blew up on the chassis dyno, so I sure didn’t get to run that first race. We had to replace that stock engine because that sucker blew sky-high. The mechanic and tuner worked with me so I didn’t have to buy a whole new engine, and the mechanic installed the LS3 engine. After that, I found a new tuner, Matt Sorian, and we upgraded some things and have gone through a progression of systems. I started with an SCT tuner and then moved to an HP tuner and now I have a Holley EFI system. As it turned out, that engine helped me go faster, but it was never balanced correctly and I was lucky to get five years out of it before I started hearing the rod bearings go bad.
 
WHAT TYPE OF ENGINE DID YOU CHOOSE TO REPLACE THE HURT ENGINE WITH?
 
I went to the folks at Scoggin Dickey Parts Center, and they helped me with a crate engine, a 416 cubic-inch LS3 in 2015. I still run that engine. I started racing in the 5th Generation Camaro Challenge in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series, and by 2013, I had earned a second-place finish in points. I moved up to Proform Rumble in 2015 and have been there ever since.


 
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT  PROFORM RUMBLE?
 
It’s a good fit for my car because I don’t have to do much beyond regular maintenance. I also don’t want to put a rollcage in it. I also like the competition and the fact that it’s run on an index. I like that it requires me to think about the light, the reaction time, the top end and not breaking out. It’s a challenge. I would like to mention my husband, Jeff. Even though he's not a racer, he's my biggest fan, and I truly couldn't do it without him. He gives up his time to come to the races with mem and helps me get the car ready for the events and rounds.
 
DO YOU CATCH YOURSELF THINKING ABOUT COMPETING EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT COMPETING?
 
Yes, all of the time. Mostly I’m thinking that I don’t want to screw up. I used to race on a full tree, and now I race on a pro tree, and that’s a big difference. But fortunately, I have been able to relax a little more this year and have more fun with our race family at the track. I think that is why I have done so much better and am currently leading the points chase.

(Interview from the November 2022 issue of Fastest Street Car)




 

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