Driver & Team Owner
At first glance, it is easy to overlook Charles Carpenter. After all, this
is a man who doesn’t really stand out in a crowd with wild hair or a crazy,
boisterous personality. Carpenter looks, speaks, and acts every bit of his
Southern heritage. But once he straps into his ’55 Chevrolet and pulls up to the
starting line, Carpenter is a drag racing legend and champion several times
Carpenter and the 1955 Chevrolet have become inexorably linked together, a love
affair he has had with this car since childhood. And after nearly three decades
of competitive experience under his 5-point harness, Carpenter has never put the
gas to any race car other than a ’55 Chevy.
“When I was about six years old, my brother had a ’55 Chevy that he used to
race,” recalls Carpenter. “I went with him to the races until I was a teenager.
Then when my brother got a divorce, I asked him if I could have the car. I
started racing it in 1973, when I was only 14-years old. Back then, you didn’t
need to have a driver’s license in order to race.”
Today, Carpenter has taken his ’55 Chevy to victory lane more times than he can
remember. Though he did not win a race during his first three years of
competition, he humbly estimates more than 200 victories in his storied career,
along with track records at nearly every stop. He has three championships to his
credit, winning the Super Chevy title twice (1988, ’89) and the 1992 United
States Super Circuit championship.
A barnstormer, Carpenter used to run match races for “winner take all” purses
posted by small drag strips across the country pitting him against a local
favorite. It was not uncommon for Carpenter and his Chevy to race on both east
and west coasts during the week, with events in between. In the summer months,
Carpenter would make more than 600 runs down the drag strip, each honing his
skills in ways that could never be duplicated outside of a competitive
Still, most people remember Carpenter for his Bel Air, given the moniker of
“World’s Fastest ‘55” by media outlets around the country. He was the first to
break 200 mph in this type of car, as well as the first to run a quarter-mile in
both the seven and six second time frame.
Through the continual development of his ’55 Chevy Carpenter also inadvertently
developed the Pro Modified class, and was anointed another title –
the Pro Mod.”
Also a successful entrepreneur, Carpenter owns a thriving auto repair business
in Charlotte, N.C. He is married, with two children.
CompetitionPlus.com Story on Charles Carpenter
View the 2005 Photo Album
Charles Carpenter Career Highlights
Charles Carpenter Autograph Cards
E-Mail to Charles Carpenter
JUST HOW FAST...
Shown below are Carpenter's career-best elapsed time
and speed over an eighth-mile race. These numbers further solidify his claim as
owner and driver of "The World's Fastest '55 Chevrolet."
Time: 3.987 seconds
(Texas Motorplex, Ennis, TX / October 2008)
Speed: 187.31 mph (Rockingham Dragway, Rockingham, NC / October 2006)