From left to right: Glen Huszar, Alexis DeJoria and Tommy DeLago.
KALITTA MOTORSPORTS TAPS DELAGO AS DEJORIA CREW CHIEF: Kalitta Motorsports, helmed by drag-racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta, has announced that one recent NHRA world champion has been added to the team’s roster and another recent NHRA world champion, already on the team, will return to a familiar assignment in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Tommy DeLago has been tapped as the crew chief on the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by 2012 rookie of the year candidate Alexis DeJoria, and Del Worsham has been named as driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. DeLago, a 43-year-old native of Benicia, California, will be making his second tenure at Kalitta Motorsports; he worked for the team from 1996 until 1999. Among DeLago’s many tuning achievements are the 2011 NHRA Funny Car championship with driver Matt Hagan and becoming the first crew chief to guide a nitro-fueled Funny Car to a pass under four seconds (3.995, Charlotte 2, 2011). DeLago served with other successful current and former nitro crew chiefs as a crewmember under the tuning tutelage of drag racing legend Ed “the Ace” McCulloch from 1997 until 1998 with Kalitta Motorsports.
“Glen [Huszar] and I are very excited about the opportunity of coming back to Kalitta Motorsports,” DeLago said. “Working for Connie is the best job in drag racing. He’s a pioneer in the sport and a great guy to work for. He’s always more than willing to try new things, and that’s one of the things I admire most about him.”
For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
WORSHAM RETURNS TO DRIVER’S SEAT IN DHL TOYOTA: Del Worsham, a 21-year Funny Car driving veteran and the 2011 Top Fuel world champion, will relinquish his crew chief position of Alexis DeJoria’s Tequila Patron Toyota Camry to Tommy DeLago and will return to the driver’s seat as the pilot of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, it was announced this week by Kalitta Motorsports. Worsham, a 42-year-old resident of Villa Park, California, is No. 8 on NHRA’s all-time Funny Car wins list with 25 victories in the flopper class. Before his brief, yet championship-winning campaign two years ago and a limited stint in the Top Fuel class from 1993 until 1995, Worsham and his dad Chuck were a Funny Car class stalwart with their family-owned operation from 1991 until 2008.
“I’m ready to get back in the seat,” Worsham said. “It’s only been a year, so maybe it won’t take long to knock the rust off. This really continues to be a dream come true for me and my family. Connie and everyone at Kalitta Motorsports have been our friends for years and to be able to continue racing with them is truly an honor. Scott [Kalitta] and I were good friends, and I’m humbled to be taking over the controls of his race car. The DHL Funny Car will always be Scott’s car.”
2012 HOLIDAY SEASON KICKS OFF WITH JOHN FORCE HOLIDAY CAR SHOW: This Sunday at the John Force Racing (JFR) headquarters and museum in Yorba Linda, California, 15-time NHRA Funny Car world champion John Force will welcome all of Southern California to his 15th annual Holiday Car Show. The event will once again benefit California Highway Patrol’s “CHiP’s For Kids” toy drive. The event will be open to the public Sunday, December 2, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Spectator admission is a new $10 unwrapped toy. Last year, tens of thousands of people wandered through one of the largest collections of hot rods, musclecars, vintage cars, trucks and exotic Ferraris. Throughout the day, toys, stuffed animals and games poured into the John Force Racing shop as fans toured the shop and John Force RaceStation. In the past 14 years, JFR has collected nearly 90,000 toys for underprivileged children in the Southern California area.
The car show is open to all sports cars, street rods, classics, trucks, musclecars and exotics. There will be plenty of vendors and this family-friendly event will have something for everyone. Fans will be able to tour the John Force Race Shop and Museum. Unique display cars include: John Force’s newly debuted “Destination Force” Funny Car; Jay Leno’s “Tank Car;” Mike Ryan’s Freightliner Race Truck; Mike Harrah’s “PT Boat Powered Packard Hot Rod”; and the Bugatti Veyron—a $1.5 million car that is one of the fastest production cars. Meet NHRA stars John Force, Robert Hight, Mike Neff, Ashley Force Hood, Brittany Force and “NHRA Rookie of the Year” Courtney Force, plus newly crowned NHRA Funny Car Champ Jack Beckman, Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen, plus Jackie Johnson, CBS-TV2’s Weathercaster, the “Queen of Cars”—Genevieve Chappell and Santa Claus. Performing in concert will be Surfin Safari—the ultimate Beach Boys tribute band along with The Answer—one of the hottest classic rock bands in Southern California. Take the 91 Freeway (in Yorba Linda), exit at Weir Canyon North, right on Savi Ranch Parkway and follow the signs for parking. John Force RaceStation, 22722 Old Canal Rd., Yorba Linda, CA 92887.
NHRA CAREER OPPORTUNITIES FAIR JUMP-STARTS AUTOMOTIVE CAREERS FOR THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS: More than 2,000 Southern California high school students recently gathered at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona to jump-start their careers and higher education at the 24th annual NHRA Career Opportunities Fair presented by the U.S. Army. The Career Opportunities Fair, which has become a Southern California high school tradition for 24 years and is always held in conjunction with the season finale of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, provides students with a free, fun-filled day of career exploration and advanced education programs in the automotive industry.
“The key in education is opportunity,” said Don Runyan, retired architectural drafting teacher and longtime NHRA Youth & Education Services advocate. “NHRA’s Career Opportunities Fair opens the students' eyes to the possibilities of what is available to them. They cannot get this kind of experience in the classroom behind textbooks or a lecture. Here, they see and feel the excitement in motorsports and determine if they’d like a motorsports career. It is a life-changing circumstance for many of these students.”
As a kickoff to the Career Opportunities Fair presented by the U.S. Army, thousands of students cheered for their favorite high school team competing in the annual U.S. Army High School Automotive Challenge presented by Universal Technical Institute Saturday, November 3, at the UTI campus in Rancho Cucamonga, California. The competition is designed to test automotive students' knowledge and skills with various written exams and hands-on projects in a fun two-day event. The weeklong schedule of activities for the students wrapped up with a day touring the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Friday, November 9. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, February 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the start of the 2013 season with new colors. After a dramatic ending to the 2012 season, drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock are looking to pick up where they left off and bring more heat to the track for the season-opener. The 2012 winners of the event were Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATix.com.
NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, Firebird International Raceway, February 22–24: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the 2013 season just south of downtown Phoenix. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will earn points towards the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season points standings. The 2012 winners of the event were Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 602-268-0200 or visit firebird.ticketforce.com.
NHRA GATORNATIONALS, Gainesville Raceway, March 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its third of 24 stops of the 2013 season in the sunshine state of Florida. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event were Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-6472 or log on to NHRATix.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
FUNNY CAR WORLD CHAMP JACK BECKMAN SAYS TOP FUEL DRAGSTERS WERE HIS FIRST LOVE: In 2012 “Fast Jack” Beckman raced to his first NHRA Full Throttle Series world championship in just five seasons at the controls of an 8,000hp NHRA Funny Car. However, during his first season as a pro racer he drove a Top Fuel dragster in 12 events. The versatile driver says while he loves Funny Car now, Top Fuel dragsters still hold a special place in his heart.
"You know, I've always been a dragster guy since I was seven and went to my first drag race. I absolutely fell in love with the candy-apple paint jobs on the Funny Cars and the way that they all had names, but when they push-started the dragsters on the last beat of the national anthem and you saw those long chassis flexing and the James Warrens and the Don Garlitses, that was it for me. The reason I'm in a Funny Car is there wasn't any dragster rides available in 2006, and I knew Don Schumacher would give me the best chance of having a winning car. I love Funny Cars now. I find them extremely challenging. I think the dragsters can get evil wicked on some runs, but on the dragsters, it's kind of like being in a Ferrari on the Autobahn: You've just got to whisper on the steering wheel. The Funny Cars are like driving a motorhome in a crosswind with a bad alignment job. They're very, very challenging, and I enjoy that aspect of it. I would love to go back to Top Fuel one day. I'd love to be able to be in a Top Fuel car and have a chance to win a race in one of them, but right now, I'm real comfortable in a Funny Car."
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
From left to right: Hector Arana Jr., Adam Arana and Hector Arana Sr.
3 LUCAS OIL PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE TEAM ADDS THIRD RIDER: The Lucas Oil Pro Stock Motorcycle team will add Adam Arana—Hector Arana Sr.'s youngest son—to form a three-bike team along with Hector Jr. in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
"I'm going to be super busy with Adam," Arana Sr. said. "I want to take him down to Florida; I want to have him get some runs and seat time because I want him to have a fair chance of winning the rookie of the year."
The off-season will certainly be a busy one for the Aranas as they prepare for 2013.
"We're definitely looking forward to next year," said Arana Jr., who won the Auto Club Road to the Future Award atop his Lucas Oil Buell during his rookie season in 2011. "Everything will be freshened, woken up and ready to rock and roll."
DID YOU KNOW…
ANDREA PEDREGON CHARITY FOUNDATION PRODUCES 2012 LIFE’S A DRAG YEARBOOK: With the continued support of the NHRA, the Andrea Pedregon Charity Foundation (APCF) has produced calendars for the past two seasons highlighting several drivers and teams. However in 2012, APCF focused on a new project—the NHRA yearbook. The yearbook, entitled, Life’s a Drag, will ship before Christmas. Highlighted throughout the piece is behind-the-scenes access to drivers and their families. Every top 10 driver in the Full Throttle Series classes is highlighted, and this year, APCF, also known as A Spark of Hope, will showcase shots never seen.
“Through the support of the NHRA fans, APCF has been able to impact more lives than I would have ever thought possible,” said Andrea Pedregon, founder and wife of two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion Tony Pedregon. “Although I have changed it slightly for this year, I believe the yearbook will give NHRA fans the behind-the-scenes access to their favorite drivers they are really craving.”
Nearly $100,000 has been donated the past two seasons from calendar sales to charities, such as the New Jersey Sharing Network, Girls Night In and Indiana University Cancer Center for use in children’s cancer research and melanoma cancer research. The funds raised from this year’s yearbook are going to a new cause—prostate and colon cancer research.
“There are so many causes that need support, and I believe this is an important one,” said Pedregon. “This could impact many of our drivers and crews, and it makes it vital that we try to find a cure for it.”
Life’s a Drag is available for $25 plus shipping, and as always, 100% of the proceeds go directly to the research. The People magazine-style yearbook can be purchased at www.tonypedregon.com/store and at the Nitro Fish trackside locations in the 2013 season.