LOS ANGELES (November 14, 2016) – Kalitta Motorsports founder and owner Connie Kalitta was honored last night at the season-ending Mello Yello Awards banquet with NHRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This is the first time in NHRA history that this award has been given.
Kalitta’s honor received the first standing ovation of the evening as NHRA President Peter Clifford addressed the crowd with some of Kalitta’s incredible achievements. A video tribute followed with all four of Kalitta’s current full-time drivers: Alexis DeJoria, Doug Kalitta, J.R. Todd and Del Worsham, team Vice-President of Operations Jim Oberhofer, NHRA legends Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen, and rival team owners John Force and Don Schumacher speaking on what Kalitta meant to the sport and how far reaching his impact has truly been.
Escorted to the stage by Oberhofer, nephew Doug Kalitta and grandson Corey Kalitta, son of the late Scott Kalitta, Connie Kalitta received his one-of-a-kind trophy and made remarks.
“I am not usually at a loss for words,” said Kalitta. “Thank you for this. I appreciate everything that each of you said in that piece. I am honored to receive such an award.”
Kalitta, known as “The Bounty Hunter” as a driver, was the first racer to reach the 200 mph mark at an NHRA sanctioned event. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1992 and won the U.S. Nationals in 1994. On NHRA’s 50th anniversary in 2001, he was named one of the NHRA’s Top 50 Drivers.
His team, Kalitta Motorsports, ended 2016 with their most successful season on record as Team Kalitta’s four full-time teams earned a combined 131 round wins. Kalitta will continue to have a major part of the NHRA for many years to come as his team expands to six entries beginning in the 2017 season with rookie driver Troy Coughlin Jr. and veteran Paul Lee joining Team Kalitta on a part-time basis to compete alongside DeJoria, Kalitta, Todd and Worsham.
Photo is courtesy of Gary Nastase.
About Kalitta Motorsports
Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The team was founded and is owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. For more than 50 years, Connie has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and an owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with six world championships and over 100 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.
Team Kalitta is the home of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car World Champion, Del Worsham. He drives the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. J.R. Todd drives the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster while Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster. Team Kalitta also manages the McLeod Racing Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by Paul Lee. Kalitta Motorsports will expand to a sixth entry in 2017 with AAA Road to the Future candidate, Troy Coughlin, Jr. Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante on the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, Tommy DeLago and Glen Huszar on the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, Todd Smith on the McLeod Racing Toyota Camry Funny Car, Rob Flynn on the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster and Jim Oberhofer on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include ARP, AutoDesk CAM, Champion, Cogistics, Darton Sleeves, DHL, Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Mac Tools, Optima Batteries, Phoenix Fuel Converter, Racing Electronics, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, Tequila Patrón, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.