Reading Preview Funny Car

MOHNTON, Pa. - Del Worsham holds the unique distinction of being the youngest old veteran in the sport of NHRA drag racing, perhaps in all of motorsports. Worsham, one of the top NHRA Funny Car competitors since beginning his ...

MOHNTON, Pa. - Del Worsham holds the unique distinction of being the youngest old veteran in the sport of NHRA drag racing, perhaps in all of motorsports. Worsham, one of the top NHRA Funny Car competitors since beginning his career over eight years ago, is only 29 - and a rare breed among his well-seasoned, 40-something competitors. Yet the Costa Mesa, Calif. driver, who was turning wrenches on father Chuck's dragsters when he should have been constructing racecar models, has as much experience as any driver on the circuit. Indeed, young Del is old school. Despite his level of experience, many in the industry often mistake Worsham for a newcomer. His recent victory in Seattle was far from his first. Worsham earned two victories during a stellar rookie season in 1991, claiming titles at Atlanta and Englishtown, N.J. Worsham's jubilation in the Winner's circle at Seattle only appeared to have a first-timer's enthusiasm. "Once we beat John Force in the semifinals and got over the hump, then we felt that we just might have a shot at winning the race," said Worsham, a driver among the favorites at the 15th annual True Value NHRA Keystone Nationals, Sept. 16-19 at Maple Grove Raceway. The $1.6 million race is the 17th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "But it doesn't matter how good your car is running, if you're not meant to win, you're not going to," Worsham continued. "At least now we feel that we do have the capability to go into any race track and get a win. Standing in the winner's circle was a nice confidence booster for myself and a real morale booster for the team." Worsham has driven his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird to a solid performance this season and sits sixth in the NHRA Winston point standings, following a string of consistent runs that include one semifinal round finish in addition to the SIR victory. If he can continue to go rounds at the remaining six national events he should be able to post a second-career top-five points finish. His only top-five points effort of his career came in 1992 when he finished fourth. "At the beginning of the year our three primary goals were to have a top-five finish in the Winston Funny Car standings, get in the Big Bud Shootout and win a race," Worsham said. "We've accomplished two of those goals and we've been flirting with the top-five for the last month. Hopefully we can hang in there, go some rounds, win some more races and get that top-five finish." Worsham credits much of his success to new primary sponsor Checker Schuck's Kragen. He always felt his team had the knowledge to make a car run quick and fast. They just lacked the essential funding. With Checker Schuck's Kragen on board, the sky's the limit. "We have plenty of engines in our pit now and each time we go out to make a pass we don't have to worry about burning up pistons or how we'll get the car ready to make the next run," Worsham said. "That's a big factor in our performance. We've got eight engines ready to go behind the first one. If we blow one up, it's not the end of the world. We just reload and go on to the next round." Before Checker Schuck's Kragen, the Worsham family funded their program directly out of pocket. Worsham says many of the teams in the category are now starting to benefit from increased awareness and more sponsorship participation. He says it's made the category a lot tougher. "We've got a fantastic opportunity with Checker Schuck's Kragen and you've got Ron Capps with Copenhagen and Scotty Cannon with Oakley and Jerry Toliver and Jim Epler with WWF, so there's been a recent infusion of money into the sport," Worsham said. "I'm excited about the new marketing and advertising programs being launched by the NHRA and hopefully more companies will become interested in the opportunities available in our sport. A lot of people have put their whole lives into this sport, and I would like nothing more than to see those kind of racers get the proper funding needed to be competitive."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Scotty Cannon