Pomona: Doug Kalitta at finals

POMONA, Calif., Nov. 6, 2000 - There aren't many Top Fuel drivers who can go faster when they aren't competing than they do at the racetrack. But Doug Kalitta can, when called upon. When he's not sitting at the controls of his uncle...

POMONA, Calif., Nov. 6, 2000 - There aren't many Top Fuel drivers who can go faster when they aren't competing than they do at the racetrack. But Doug Kalitta can, when called upon. When he's not sitting at the controls of his uncle Conrad "Connie" Kalitta's MGM Grand dragster, Doug Kalitta is the vice president and general manager of Ypsilanti, Mich.-based Kitty Hawk Charters. He oversees an operation comprised of 220 people, 30 aircraft (20 Learjets, 7 Beechcraft, two M2Us and a Falcon), engine shops and maintenance facilities in three different cities (Detroit, San Francisco and Morristown, Tenn.). "My job with the company consists of making sure everyone has what they need to do their jobs," said Kalitta. "And I keep chasing down revenue. I spend a lot of time on the computer and the telephone." He's also a certified pilot for Learjet, DC-8 and Hawker aircraft and still manages to fit "a fair amount of flying time" into his schedule - not counting his trips to races with Connie, usually in either his Lear or Hawker. "I'm fortunate to be able to travel with Connie," said Doug. "We usually time our trips to arrive about one hour before the first Friday qualifying session, depending on where we're racing, and we leave as soon as we can on race day. That gives me a full day in the office on Thursdays. We aren't gone an extended amount of time." And how fast do the Kalittas fly on the way to the races? The cruising speed of a Lear is approximately 500-mph land speed. On the track, Doug's fastest speed is 321.96 mph, and that can't be described as cruising. Kalitta will be flying commercial this week because the Auto Club Finals begin Thursday instead of the usual Friday afternoons. It is the last race of 2000 but it still offers several incentives for the Kalitta team: 1) Doug has qualified for Saturday's Budweiser Shootout that pays $100,000 to the winner. He won it in 1998, his rookie year; 2) Win his fourth national event of season. He's won three of his six finals in the first 22 races; 3) Finish fourth in points. He trails Joe Amato by 11 points, 1388-1377. "I've been very fortunate to have the group of guys Connie assembled to work on the racecar," commented Doug, who races Gary Scelzi in the Shootout's first round. "They really take care of things. They provide a good, safe car every time. I'm looking forward to getting out to California to see what we can do." He is one of several Top Fuel drivers who mold their love of racing around their work schedules. Kalitta spends 10 to 11 hours a day at Kitty Hawk and he never leaves for the races without his computer. "I can get caught up on work e-mails at the races," he said. "I download them before I leave, then go through them between qualifying runs. There aren't many coming in on the weekends." That gives him the time he needs to be Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel driver, a role he enjoys.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta