Grubnic going back Down Under and he's taking a few fast friends to go Top Fuel racing with him
Ypsilanti, Mich., (Nov. 21, 2005) -- In 1995, before he made the trip halfway around the world to the United States and before he had acquired his now common moniker of "Aussie", Dave Grubnic was a 35-year old regional manager for Ford Motor Company in his hometown of Brisbane, Australia. He enjoyed his job, but he was more than willing to trade in his jacket-and-tie wardrobe for a firesuit and a helmet and a chance to drive Top Fuel dragsters in the NHRA.
Grubnic took a big chance and left his homeland to pursue his dream. Having never even been in the cockpit of a nitro-fueled race car, he arrived in California slightly over a decade ago and started his lofty drag racing pursuits. Since then, the ever-smiling tall and lanky racer has been blazing down tracks across the States on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series tour.
In early 2003, Grubnic landed his dream rail ride when he was hired by drag racing icon and Kalitta Motorsports' team owner Connie Kalitta. Since joining the Ypsilanti, Michigan-based multi-car nitro team, Grubnic, driver of the StriVectin-SD Top Fueler, has posted consecutive top-five championship points finishes, and he picked up an emotional and long overdue first NHRA national event win this past season in May in Topeka, Kans., to become the first non-native North American to win a Top Fuel trophy.
Now Grubnic, along with some of his Kalitta Motorsports cohorts, is going back to the world's largest island to go Top Fuel racing with some of Down Under's best at the Western Sydney International Dragway in Sydney, Australia, for what's being billed as the U.S.A. vs. Australia Boxing Day Top Fuel Bonanza, December 26-27.
Grubnic and his stateside teammate Scott Kalitta will drive Kalitta Motorsports-prepared dragsters during the fast festivities that are being touted as an actual racing event and as an exhibition. The two cars they will wield were sold individually to Australian racers and businessmen Santo Rapisarda and Jim Read from Kalitta Motorsports earlier this year. Longtime Team Kalitta tuner Jim Oberhofer will make the journey to turn the knobs on Grubnic's car while drag racing journeyman tuner and driver Glenn Mikres makes the calls on Kalitta's rail.
"You bet I'm looking forward to going back," Grubnic said. "Everything I've done in drag racing has been here in the States. To be able to go back to Australia and race with my Kalitta Motorsports team will be like another dream come true for me.
"We want to put on a good show for everyone that comes out to see us. We are also competing in rounds of the Australian Top Fuel championship, so we would like to do well in that also. I just hope it doesn't rain the whole time we're there."
Along with Kalitta Motorsports crew members Mac Savage, Clayton Musser, Mike Criss, and Dave Griffiths, a fellow native Aussie, Grubnic and Kalitta will make the 9,500-mile jaunt over land and sea with Oberhofer and his wife Tammy and daughter Ashley and with Scott's wife Kathy and their sons Colin and Corey.
"I'm really looking forward to sharing the sites and experiences of Australia with Jim and Scott and their families and our guys, as this will be there first trip down there," Grubnic said.
"I have some buddies that I grew up with in Brisbane that are planning the trip to Sydney to come and hang out and watch us race. They will also be at the race in Brisbane in early January along with their families and a bunch of other friends that I probably haven't seen in years.
"We are all planning to spend time in between the two races on the Gold Coast, which is a beach resort south of Brisbane, and probably have the traditional BBQ with some friends. I can't wait to see everyone and reminisce."
Western Sydney International Dragway is Australia's premier drag racing facility and was built to NHRA standards.
"This is a significant moment for Australian drag racing. To have Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta here with the full weight of their team's resources behind them will produce a nitro spectacle never seen in this country before," said Read, WSID CEO.
The racecars, spare parts and other equipment necessary to service the cars for the event were recently sent to their new Australian owners via a ship from the California coast. Connie's air cargo company Kalitta Air does not have a regularly scheduled flight to Australia.
"We had the time and shipping by boat was the most cost effective way to do it," Grubnic explained. "Besides, it would not be feasible to divert a Kalitta Air 747 over there if that's not one of their normal trips and if they did, Connie would probably send me the bill, so by boat was just fine."
About Kalitta Motorsports
Based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) POWERade Drag Racing Series. The racing operation was started in 1959 by now legendary drag racer and team owner Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta. His son Scott Kalitta drives the Kalitta Air Funny Car. Scott's cousin, Connie's nephew, Doug Kalitta drives the flagship Top Fuel dragster for Mac Tools. Native Australian David Grubnic drives the StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, while Hillary Will drives the Kalitta Motorsports-managed and Ken Black-owned Top Fuel dragster.
Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by crew chiefs Rahn Tobler (Mac Tools dragster), Jim Oberhofer (Hillary Will-driven dragster), Jon Oberhofer (StriVectin-SD dragster), Johnny West (Kalitta Air Funny Car) and Larry Meyer (Kalitta Air Funny Car co-crew chief).
Associate sponsors on all Kalitta Motorsports' race cars include Red Line Oil, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies and Fischer Honda.