Kalitta Motorsports News
One is a legendary racer and businessman, a bit world weary and rough around the edges, who was portrayed by Beau Bridges in a movie. The other is an enthusiastic journeyman racer whose career started fast, then sputtered.
Together, Connie Kalitta and J.R. Todd are the Felix and Oscar of drag racing.
Kalitta, the 76-year-old Hall of Famer who won 10 events in his career, hired Todd in April to take over one of Kalitta Motorsports' Top Fuel cars. Despite missing the first two events of the season, Todd, a 33-year-old who was drag racing's top rookie in 2006, made a run at the championship, eventually finishing second behind Tony Schumacher.
With Kalitta tuning the car and Todd driving it, the two are expected to contend again for the championship when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season opens this weekend with the 55th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.
Theirs is an unlikely story of friendship, rejuvenation and success.
"When I first got the job, everybody on the team was joking about how it was like Connie had a new girlfriend," Todd told USA TODAY Sports. "They were saying they hadn't seen him this happy in a long time. He's definitely enthused about it, and he's the one calling the shots."
Todd broke into drag racing in a large way. He won at Denver in 2006, becoming the first African-American to win in Top Fuel. He added wins at Sonoma, Calif., and Reading, Pa., finished eighth in the final standings and was named the top rookie in Top Fuel. After 2009, though, his career stalled. Until Kalitta called in April, that is.
Immediately, things changed for Todd and his new boss. Read More at USA Today
Team Kalitta At A Glance – Pomona 2; Kalitta Motorsports Hopes to Put Winning Cap on Stellar 2014 NHRA Season
POMONA, Calif., (Nov. 13, 2014) - Going into this weekend’s, Nov. 14-16, final event of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the four-car, Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta-led, nitro-fueled NHRA drag racing team is looking to end one of the team’s most successful season’s on winning notes at the 50th Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (Calif.).
Team Kalitta nitro race cars have seven event wins and have appeared in a team-record 22 championship rounds so far in the 24-event 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule of events this year.
For the first time in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship “playoffs” era, all four Team Kalitta drivers and teams had the opportunity to race for the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series points championship in their respective classes. All four Team Kalitta race cars finished in the top 10 in Mello Yello championship points during the “regular season” to qualify for the six-event Countdown to the Championship, which began in Charlotte in September.
All four Team Kalitta racers are currently in the top eight in Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship points in their respective classes with J.R. Todd, driver of the Optima Batteries/Advance Auto Parts Top Fuel dragster, leading the charge for Kalitta Motorsports in the No. 3 points position in Top Fuel, 112 points behind the leader.
Team Kalitta Drivers At A Glance:
Photo courtesy of NHRA
J.R. Todd – Driver of the Optima Batteries/Advance Auto Parts Top Fuel Dragster:
HOMETOWN: Lawrenceburg, Ind.
CREW CHIEF: Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta
CAREER WINS: 7
CAREER FINAL ROUNDS: 11
CAREER BEST E.T.: 3.732 seconds
CAREER BEST SPEED: 327.43 mph
- Todd has jumped from 10th place in points to 3rd place in the first five events of the Countdown to the Championship; He raced to a runner-up finish at the previous event in Las Vegas
- Todd won the event in Denver in July, his first win of 2014 and his first with Kalitta Motorsports; First win in six years
- Todd raced to a runner-up finish in Dallas in September
- Todd has raced to three semi-final finishes so far this season (Charlotte 1, Topeka, and Chicago)
- Todd set a career-best elapsed time mark at the previous event in Las Vegas (3.732 sec.)
- Todd joined Team Kalitta in March as the full-time driver of the Optima Batteries/Advance Auto Parts Top Fueler
Photo courtesy of NHRA
Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster:
HOMETOWN: Ann Arbor, Mich.
CREW CHIEF: Jim Oberhofer
CAREER WINS: 35
CAREER FINAL ROUNDS: 77
CAREER BEST E.T.: 3.713 seconds
CAREER BEST SPEED: 331.45 mph
- Kalitta has garnered two event wins so far this season (Seattle and Gainesville)
- Kalitta has raced to seven runner-up finishes so far this season (Pomona, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Englishtown, Bristol, Epping and Brainerd)
- Kalitta was the No. 1 qualifier for Top Fuel eliminations in Pomona, Phoenix, Atlanta, Englishtown, Chicago and St. Louis
- Kalitta won the event in Seattle in August, which tied him with NHRA drag racing legend Don Garlits for fifth on the all-time NHRA Top Fuel wins list (35)
- Kalitta won the 500th Top Fuel elimination round of his career in Epping in June, a feat accomplished by only 16 professional drivers in NHRA history
- Kalitta is the nephew of team owner and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta
Photo by Gary Nastase
Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car:
HOMETOWN: Chino Hills, Calif.
CREW CHIEFS: Nick Boninfante and Jon Oberhofer
CAREER WINS: 34 (TF: 8 FC: 26)
CAREER FINAL ROUNDS: 54 (TF: 11 FC: 43)
CAREER BEST E.T.: 3.992 seconds
CAREER BEST SPEED: 321.88 mph
- Worsham and the DHL team (#yellafellas) introduced the new-look 2015 DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car in grand style at the previous event in Las Vegas - The DHL team won the Funny Car title trophy, their first win of the season
- Worsham defeated 16-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion in the Vegas final round - 4.064 sec., 318.39 mph to 4.104 sec., 321.42 mph. “I want everyone to remember I’m driving Scott’s (Kalitta, who died in a racing accident in 2008) car. He was a good friend of mine and the DHL car will always be Scott’s car. I can’t thank Connie (Kalitta, team owner, drag racing legend and Scott’s father) enough for letting me be a part of his team and having this opportunity to drive for Kalitta Motorsports.”
- With his Vegas win, Worsham became the first driver to win the fall event in Las Vegas in both nitro-fueled classes (Top Fuel in 2011)
- Worsham has been No. 1 qualifier three times this year so far (Norwalk, Bristol and Houston)
- Worsham recorded his career best elapsed time, 3.992 sec., in Bristol in June
- Worsham has raced to two runner-up finishes (Dallas and Englishtown) and two semi-final finishes so far this season (Pomona 1 and Houston)
Photo courtesy of NHRA
Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Patrón XO Café Toyota Camry Funny Car:
HOMETOWN: Austin, Texas
CREW CHIEF: Tommy DeLago
CAREER WINS: 3
CAREER FINAL ROUNDS: 5
CAREER BEST E.T.: 3.997 seconds
CAREER BEST SPEED: 319.07 mph
- DeJoria and her team will debut a new-look Toyota Camry Funny Car for the NHRA Finals on Friday, Nov. 14.
- DeJoria has garnered three event wins so far in her breakthrough season, including the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, the most prestigious drag racing event in the world (Phoenix and Las Vegas 1)
- DeJoria posted at least semi-final finishes at four consecutive events (Sonoma, Seattle, Brainerd and Indy); She also reached the semi-final round at the previous event in Reading
- DeJoria earned her first No. 1 qualifying position of her career in Atlanta in May; She also qualified No. 1 for the Charlotte 2 event
(CHICAGO, IL) November 3, 2014—Brian Marshall and Scott Garwood, founders of the high-performance coaching firm True Growth Partners, are launching a Kickstarter campaign to publish “TOP FUEL: Lessons from a Crew Chief”. The book shares the inspiring, life-changing comeback of Jim Oberhofer, the crew chief of the MAC Tools Top Fuel dragster at Kalitta Motorsports. The 30-day campaign is seeking $47,000 to publish the book and will kick-off on Monday, November 3. Full information about TOP FUEL, including an inspirational message from Jim Oberhofer on the importance of his story, is available at the Kickstarter site, www.tinyurl.com/topfuelbook.
“This book is nothing about money, nothing about fame, but it’s all about being happy,” Oberhofer says in the Kickstarter video. “I want to help everyone learn from the mistakes that I’ve made in the past so they can find happiness and success in everything they do.”
The book’s mission is to inspire others to live a life of significance through Oberhofer’s rapid rise to victory, his unimaginable losses, and the epiphany that transformed his life both on and off the track. It will inspire readers to break the barriers that prevent happiness and pursue a high-performance life where everyday moments are the most significant ones of all.
The back portion of the book will include a detailed explanation of the TOP FUEL methodology that True Growth Partners implemented to lead Oberhofer’s team back to success. As founders of TGP, Garwood and Marshall help companies and high-performance sports teams find “true growth” by providing customized solutions to break from nonproductive rituals and routines and create positive transformations.
“Including the TOP FUEL method is a very valuable addition to the book,” said Marshall. “The same methodology we applied to help Kalitta start winning again can be applied to any company, team, or organization struggling to find significance in their personal and work lives.”
The 30-day Kickstarter campaign for TOP FUEL will end on Wednesday, December 3.
About True Growth Partners: True Growth Partners was founded in 2014 as a network of specialists dedicated to coaching individuals, businesses and families to reach beyond their success to create significance in their own lives and the lives of others. For more information, visit True Growth Partners at truegrowthpartners.com.
LAS VEGAS, (Nov. 2, 2014) - Del Worsham and the DHL team debuted the new 2015 Toyota Camry Funny Car in spectacular style by winning the 14th Annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday in Las Vegas.
The win for Worsham, a 44-year old resident of Villa Park, Calif., is the 26th of his storied career in a nitro-fueled Funny Car and the 34th “Wally” of his career, including the eight he won in his World Championship-winning season behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster for the Al-Anabi Racing team in 2011.
Worsham’s win in Las Vegas is his first in Funny Car since the Richmond event (no longer competed) in 2009. The win Sunday came in his third final round appearance of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series (Dallas and Englishtown, N.J.). He has raced in 54 final rounds in his career which began in 1990.
Sunday’s victory was Worsham’s first since joining Kalitta Motorsports as the driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car in 2013. “I think we’ve been to probably four finals and this is the first time we’ve won with Kalitta Motorsports,” said Worsham. “We’ve almost had lane choice and low elapsed time in all those finals and we didn’t bring out a big enough stick. Today, the big bat was out. This was all about the crew chief and the crew and the job they did today.”