Gainesville: Kalitta Motorsports preview

Kalitta cousins looking for familiar glory at NHRA's famed Mac Tools Gatornationals Gainesville, Fla., Mar. 15, 2005 - Displaying a special, one-off West Coast Customs paint scheme this weekend Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools flagship Top...

Kalitta cousins looking for familiar glory at NHRA's famed Mac Tools Gatornationals

Gainesville, Fla., Mar. 15, 2005 - Displaying a special, one-off West Coast Customs paint scheme this weekend Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools flagship Top Fuel dragster, and his cousin and Kalitta Motorsports teammate Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fueler, with its multi-colored striped styling, are each hoping for a trip to the winner's circle at legendary Gainesville Raceway at the 36th annual Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals, Mar. 17-20.

Two-time Top Fuel points championship runner-up (2003-2004) Doug, 40, is hoping to rebound from a slow start to his 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Doug has failed to reach the second round of eliminations in each of the first two national events (Pomona 1, Phoenix), but he is hoping a "hometown" boost from the Mac Tools fans at Gainesville Raceway will help him and his Mac Tools team go to victory lane at the famous quarter-mile.

"We always have a blast racing in Gainesville," Doug said. "It's just one of those great tracks and great places that we look forward to going to every year. We always have a big crowd there, and we get to see a lot of Mac Tools distributors there too. Hopefully we can use those good vibes to get back on the right track. Winning in Gainesville at our sponsor's event would be the perfect way to break our slump."

Doug beat current Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher in the 2000 Gatornationals final round to win his first and only Top Fuel trophy at the event. Doug has 19 NHRA national event wins in his eight-year drag racing career. Before going straight-line racing, he was the 1994 USAC National Sprint Car Champion. He won the coveted Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award in his NHRA rookie season of 1998. Doug is currently 9th in championship points (70).

Doug's forgoes his normally bright red race car in Gainesville for a radically decorated blue and white, one-of-a-kind design for custom car creators West Coast Customs. The crew from West Coast Customs hosts the wildly-popular show Pimp My Ride on MTV. In each episode, they take a lucky viewer's dilapidated auto and transform it into a customized piece of rolling artwork, complete with everything from a set of Mac Tools in the trunk to DVD players in the dash.

Doug's cousin and teammate Scott Kalitta is hoping to continue his strong start to the 2005 season. Two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) Scott, 43, won the first event of 2005 in Pomona, Calif., last month. Now, he brings his Mac Tools/Jesse James rail into racing battle in Gainesville looking to avenge a Mac Tools Gatornationals loss that happened over a decade ago but still lingers in the back of his mind and the memories of Kalitta fans.

"The one thing that still haunts me to this day about Gainesville is losing to my dad (Connie Kalitta, team owner, crew chief and drag racing legend) in the finals in1994. Everyone always remembers that one.

"Gainesville is great. I've always liked the place. It has a great atmosphere about it, and it's our sponsor's race, so it's special for us. Hopefully this year if we win people will know me for winning in 2005 instead of losing in 1994."

The 1994 final round of Scott vs. Connie is the only father-son Top Fuel final in NHRA history. Connie won with a 4.79-sec., 290-mph lap against Scott's losing 4.95-sec., 271-mph effort.

Scott has 17 NHRA event wins (16 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) in his 24-year career. He is currently 2nd in championship points (171), just five points shy of the lead.

The Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals begins Friday 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 Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals is the third of 23 national events in the 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.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , David Grubnic , Scott Kalitta , Jim Oberhofer , Connie Kalitta , Jesse James