Bristol: Kalitta looking to repeat

Kalitta looking to repeat at Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals. BRISTOL, Tenn. - Doug Kalitta is always moving fast. That's exactly how he likes it too. The driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster has a lot going on, and it all concerns ...

Kalitta looking to repeat at Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals.

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Doug Kalitta is always moving fast.

That's exactly how he likes it too. The driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster has a lot going on, and it all concerns speed.

Not only does Kalitta handle the driving duties for his Uncle Connie's 6,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster, but he also runs a charter airplane business in his spare time. And he's not just the manager of his avaiation business -- he is a pilot too. Kalitta logs numerous hours each week in the cockpit of several airplanes. In 1985, at age 21, Kalitta became the youngest person to receive a Learjet rating.

Kalitta will be speeding to Tennessee in order to defend his event title at the second annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, April 26-28. Ron Capps and Greg Anderson also are the defending winners in their respective categories for the $1.9 million race, the sixth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Don't be surprised if Kalitta is splitting time between racing and business matters when he gets to Tennessee. One of the three Kalitta Charters shops is located in Morristown, just south of the ultra-modern Bristol quarter-mile facility.

"The primary function of that office is dispatching the company-owned Learjets," Kalitta said. "These aircraft are set up separately to fly cargo, passengers and medical flights. The support staff handles the maintenance, dispatching and flight crew coordination. We also do a lot of marketing out of that office as well as re-fueling and loading. It's a busy office."

While Kalitta spends a lot of time dealing with the charter business, he said he will be able to easily shift gears to concentrate solely on racing when the time comes. He said being the defending champion at his sponsor's race is all the motivation he needs to gain focus, even though the team has not produced the winning results they are aiming for.

"I feel real good about Bristol because we are defending the event title of our sponsor's race," he said. "That is a pretty good incentive. Besides that, our car is going to be running more consistently from now on. It seems like we have been a little behind (on the car setup) but I know that (co-crew chief ) Jim Oberhofer and this Mac Tools team has a real good idea of how to make the car less vulnerable to smoking the tires.

"Jim has been working very hard and he is dedicated to making the car run some consistently quick times. We are all optimistic that it is all coming together now."

Kalitta started racing when he was nine years old, and has yet to slow down his schedule, or his love of speed. He has raced motorcycles, sprint cars and even spent some time on the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde series driving stock cars.

For now, however, he is going to keep splitting duties between racing and running a business. Besides, with the charter business, Kalitta always has a quick ride to the races.

"I love doing both and I guess I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to juggling both jobs," Kalitta said. "I like the speed and I think the two compliment each other very well. Besides, it lets me meet a lot of people in racing and through the aviation aspect. And, I get to have a really cool number for my business, 1-800-KALITTA. You have to like that."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Jim Oberhofer