GREENFIELD — In anticipation of the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) biggest race of the season, Doug Kalitta of Kalitta Motorsports made a pit stop Wednesday in Greenfield to make an external change to his Top Fuel dragster.
Kalitta visited the Greenfield DEWALT manufacturing facility, one of seven in the United States, to transform his Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster into the DEWALT Made in the USA with Global Materials Top Fuel dragster (vinyl design).
The new design will be launched this weekend on the NHRA Mellow Yellow Drag Racing Series. It hits the track at 7 p.m. today for the first time in the first of five qualifying sessions during the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
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Kalitta will also be a part of the Traxxas Shootout, which runs at 5 p.m. Saturday. National final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Monday.
Kalitta, a Ypsilanti, Michigan, native, ranks sixth on the all-time wins list for Top Fuel drag racing (37).
The Daily Reporter caught up with Kalitta, who sits in fifth place in the points standings this season, to talk about his racing career and the big weekend ahead.
Q: How did your trip to Greenfield go?
A: We had a good visit with those guys. We went over to the DEWALT facilities where they build various products, screwdrivers and that type of stuff. The main goal was to wrap our car in the DEWALT brand. So people were there to enjoy it. We wanted to help the employees there feel a part of the effort. It was well received, and I had fun while I was there.
Q: Why is Indianapolis, for your sport specifically, so special?
A: It’s nice getting back down to Indy. It’s our big race of the year. It’s obviously very historical with the (Indy) 500 and then the drag racing premiere event. It started somewhere in the 1950s or ’60s. It was just a traditional event. Indy is a great town, they have their own type of tradition with all the different races going on. The people of Indianapolis are very deserving, as well.
Q: How did you get started?
A: I got started through my dad (Doug Kalitta Sr.). His sister, Connie Kalitta, is very involved with everything we do with the dragsters. I’ve been running midget and sprint cars in the Indianapolis area for about 11 years and switched to Top Fuel dragsters in 1998. It’s been a good family opportunity. I just had a passion for it.
Q: What made you want to stick with the sport? Especially with the dangers involved.
A: Definitely having racing in your blood and doing all the racing I have. It’s something I got to being good at and something I have a passion for. I would even try doing it on my own, but fortunately I haven’t had too. The team of people we’ve put together, we have a good effort going on and the odds of getting one of our four cars in the winner’s circle this weekend are pretty good. You got to have it in your heart, and I think I do.
Q: How fast have you gone?
A: We run a 1,000-foot distance. All the races we run are determined by the lapse time. My fastest is 3.71 seconds. Typically a run is anywhere between 325 and 330 miles per hour. That’s the speed the car gets to. It’s a very fan-friendly event.
Q: Do you have kids and do they get involved also?
A: My daughter, Avery, is 12 and my son, Mitchell, is 14. They’re going to be down here this weekend and support the effort. Hopefully, I’ll have my son working, kind of get him a little more hands on with what we’re doing. He’s adapted well. It’s always fun to get them involved. It starts at the bottom up. They’ve been around it their whole lives. It’s a great family effort.