Team Kalitta preps to end NHRA season with reflection and promise in Pomona Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9, 2004 - After a 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season of terrific highs and tragic lows, Kalitta Motorsports' Top Fuel dragster drivers...
Team Kalitta preps to end NHRA season with reflection and promise in Pomona
Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9, 2004 - After a 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season of terrific highs and tragic lows, Kalitta Motorsports' Top Fuel dragster drivers Doug Kalitta, Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic enter this weekend's final national event in Pomona, Calif., with mixed emotions and an increasing anticipation for what's to come in 2005 and beyond.
Kalitta's NHRA-only, full-time, three-dragster effort experienced one of drag racing's all-time best weekends at the previous event two weeks ago in Las Vegas by earning low qualifier (Scott Kalitta), the Budweiser Shootout crown (Dave Grubnic) and the event's title trophy (Doug Kalitta), but going into the 40th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway, Nov. 11-14, a fellow racer's passing earlier this year still weighs heavy on the entire team's minds and hearts.
Top Fuel pilot Darrell Russell was killed in a high-speed racing accident in St. Louis in June. His sudden death continues to affect racers, fans and officials.
Two-time NHRA Top Fuel World Champion (1994-95) Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster was racing beside Russell in that fateful round in St. Louis. He tries to remember his friend as the man he was and not the accident that took his life.
"I was one of the first people to get to his car after the crash," Scott recalls. "I wasn't sure what I could do to help, but I wanted to do whatever I could. It's hard to think of Darrell now without remembering his wreck, but I try to think about how good of a person he was and how special he was to his family and friends and fans.
Scott continued, "Speaking for myself, Doug and Dave, we'll always miss him as a great competitor and friend. We're making our sport safer so hopefully this will never happen again. We each know that we have dangerous jobs and that accidents happen, but we all want to do what we love in the safest way we can."
The Darrell Russell Memorial Auction will be held Saturday, Nov. 13, at Pomona Raceway. Auction items were donated from all types of motorsports to benefit Darrell's family.
Scott Kalitta, 42, has 16 career national event victories (15 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) including a trophy from Denver in 2004. He has two low qualifier awards this year for his achievements in Las Vegas in April and again in October. He has 20 No. 1 qualifiers in his 23-year career. Scott is currently in fourth position in championship points.
Top Fuel championship runner-up in 2003 Doug Kalitta, 40, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship rail, has 19 career national event victories including wins this season in Chicago, St. Louis, Sonoma and Las Vegas 2. So far in 2004, he has been low qualifier at Pomona 1, Sonoma, Brainerd, Indianapolis, Dallas and Reading and has 22 No.1 qualifying spots in his seven-year career. Doug holds the quickest (4.420 sec. - Chicago 1, 2004) and fastest (335.57 mph - Las Vegas 1, 2004) marks in NHRA history. He currently sits in second in championship points.
Journeyman racer "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, 42, pilots the third dragster for Kalitta Motorsports. He will again be flying the blue and black colors of Zantrex-3 in Pomona. Grubnic's 7,000 + horsepower machine was low qualifier earlier this season at consecutive events in Phoenix and Gainesville, at consecutive events in Atlanta and Chicago 1 and then in Memphis. He has six No. 1 qualifying positions in his ten-year career. Grubnic, a native of Brisbane, Australia, has reached the final round seven times in his career, including five (St. Louis, Seattle, Sonoma, Brainerd and Dallas) in 2004, but has yet to take home a national event trophy. His first major Top Fuel victory was his recent Budweiser Shootout victory. He became only the fourth driver to win the Top Fuel special event in his first attempt, and he became the first driver in the 20-year history of the Shootout to win its $100,000 check before winning an NHRA national event. He is currently fifth in Top Fuel championship points.
Team owner and drag racing legend Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta serves as crew chief for all three Team Kalitta entries. He is Doug's uncle and Scott's dad. 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).
Please visit www.kalittaracing.com for more information about Kalitta Motorsports.