Scott Kalitta reflects on winning and hobbling in Houston as NHRA tour heads to Texas Houston, Tex., April 6, 2005 - Sixteen years ago Scott Kalitta was already a seasoned drag racing veteran at the age of 27. As the son of drag racing legend...
Scott Kalitta reflects on winning and hobbling in Houston as NHRA tour heads to Texas
Houston, Tex., April 6, 2005 - Sixteen years ago Scott Kalitta was already a seasoned drag racing veteran at the age of 27. As the son of drag racing legend and team owner Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta, Scott had been raised at drag strips across North America and was destined to drive race cars. In the heat of Southeast Texas on March 5, 1989, Scott stepped out of his father's iconic shadow to claim his place among the best draggers in the world by winning his first NHRA national event in a Funny Car at Houston Raceway Park, and he did it with a broken left leg.
As this weekend's running of the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals, April 8-10, at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Tex., just outside the city limits of Houston, draws near, Scott, now driver of Kalitta Motorsports' Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, took a moment to reminisce about that historic and ironically painful day in his racing career and to look ahead to this year's event.
"The leg hurt a lot," Scott, two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995), said. "I can remember that it itched horribly that weekend too. It seemed like I was constantly looking for something to scratch under the cast with. I was determined to drive though.
"We qualified sixth and beat Tony McCallum in round one. In round two, we ran Tom Hoover. I smoked the tires, but after he did, and we got by him.
"The semifinal with Art Hendey was really ugly. I won with an 11.21 (seconds). Hendey's car broke an input shaft and ran a 13.50, but I broke an axle and we both coasted across the finish line. This was before we stepped up to the live axle rear-end. We still had a stock stamped-out, but modified, Ford rear-end with two axles. The housing was bent, and we had to change axles every run.
"In the finals, we raced Bruce Larson, who ended up winning the championship that year. My car got out of the groove and went toward the wall, but Larson blew a head gasket. The race was really close. I won with a 5.57 (sec.) to his 5.58.
"Houston Raceway Park will always be special to me because I won my first Wally (trophy) there. We've seen some really good numbers there in the past. The weather is usually good, so we're looking forward to getting our Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster on the track and going fast again."
Scott won the 2005 season-opening event in Pomona, Calif., in February. He has 17 NHRA event wins (16 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) in his 24-year career. His career-best elapsed time is 4.455 sec., and his career-best speed is 333.95 mph. He is currently 4th in championship points (203), just 28 points shy of the lead.
The O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals begins Friday, April 8, for the Top Fuel class with two qualifying sessions. Two more qualifying sessions follow on Saturday. The top sixteen qualified cars will race Sunday in final eliminations.
The O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals is the fourth of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
About Kalitta Motorsports
Based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Kalitta Motorsports is the only full-time three-car Top Fuel 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 Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster. Scott's cousin, Connie's nephew, Doug Kalitta drives the flagship dragster for Mac Tools. Native Australian David Grubnic drives the third dragster under the banner of Zantrex-3.
Connie serves as crew chief for all three Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Rahn Tobler (Mac Tools dragster), Jim Oberhofer (Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster) and Jon Oberhofer (Zantrex-3 dragster).
Associate sponsors on all three race cars include Red Line Oil, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies and Fischer Honda.