The Performance Cellar started in March 1990, operated by Lorraine and Venice Perno and their son, Aynsley. The premise was to have a functioning “Mom and Pop” speed shop that serviced all facets of the street and race high-performance market. The idea was to offer parts in a very timely manner and to also offer advice and support with every purchase.
Through hard work and dedication by the trio, business flourished and Venice, being an enthusiast himself, felt the need to have a better “knowledge package” to go with his counter sales abilities. A plan of attack was devised and a Thunderbird Super Stock was purchased from Texas in 1999.
“The thought was that we could simply show everybody how fast and how smart we really were.” Unfortunately, an awful lot of learning was yet to be done.
The first few outings provided a car that could only run in the 10.30s against a 10.65 index. It was inconsistent, overweight, and at times very ill-mannered at the race track. So began Venice’s education.
He took the car from being an afterthought to a car that was so consistent, it became a benchmark. The ultimate came in the summer of 2008 when the IHRA record was set and, on the same weekend, Venice won the Sunday Pro-Am in Super Stock at Martin, Michigan.
To prove it was no fluke, he backed it up with a win the following weekend at Cayuga in the J.P. shootout in the Can-Am Super Stock class. The car was now running in the low 9.80s, and this was mostly done by refining and tuning the existing 10.30 package.
To say Venice learned a lot would be an understatement. “I frankly got tired of reading so many different opinions on everything from four-link setups to engine tuning. I had to develop my own thoughts and prove to myself what did and did not work.”
Fast forward to 2012 and a new Mustang Super Stock car, purchased in 2009, was finished and since has set three NHRA records, as well as winning an NHRA “Wally” in 2013 at the Columbus, Ohio SPORTSnationals. Most recently, an IHRA record was set at Grand Bend, Ontario in June 2014.
What this brought to the table was an ability to share information, help bring relative newcomers to drag racing, and get them to a confidence level that would allow them to be successful in their own racing adventures.
“I am proud to be able to offer this intangible to all of my customers,” says Venice.
While Lorraine has moved on to a new career, her presence is still felt and she is an active participant in the racing ventures. Aynsley, too, has moved on to graduating University and now works in the finance sector in Ottawa. Venice welcomes all who call on him with the same “Mom and Pop” feel of the old days of speed shops, while also having the ability to value-add his services with the knowledge he has acquired in his own racing ventures.
Photo credit - Rob Potter, Wayne Gierke, Brian Epps