With his deep background in the art of tuning nitro-powered NHRA Funny Cars, it's not a surprise to see newly-retired driver Del Worsham return to the sport as a crew chief.
He retired from driving after earning the Top Fuel title less than a month ago.
Before joining Al-Anabi Racing three seasons past to drive the dark burgundy Funny Car for Sheikh Khalid Al-Thani, Worsham drove for his family team, led by father Chuck.
In that guise, he spent plenty of time under the car and working on it. This was, in essence, the family business. Al-Anabi Racing moved Worsham into a Top Fuel dragster for the 2011 season; the rest is history as Worsham won his first--and now only--driving championship in the rail, abruptly retiring from driving once the season was complete.
Now he's resurfaced with Kalitta Motorsports, taking on the duties of crew chief for rookie Alexis DeJoria and the Tequila Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car team.
"I started working on Funny Cars before I was 10 years old," Worsham said. "My dad (Chuck) and I tuned our family-owned Funny Car from 1990 until I joined the Al-Anabi team in 2009. Dad and I won 22 races together, so hopefully I can draw from that experience and knowledge in this next phase of my career."
Worsham joins a truly accomplished team, technically led by the legendary Connie Kalitta, Jim and Jon Oberhofer. Based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Kalitta Motorsports fields both Top Fuel and Funny Car entries in the NHRA's Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Kalitta has been involved in the sport for more than 50 years, a driver, car tuner and owner. Kalitta Motorsports has five world championships and over 50 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since Kalitta established the team in 1959.
DeJoria began her professional Funny Car career in the latter stages of the 2011 season at Dallas, competing in four events for Kalitta Motorsports prior to running for the Auto Club Road to the Future rookie award in 2012. She has five successful years of driving in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class, achieving her first victory this summer.
"Del has been my mentor since I started driving a nitro car," said DeJoria, a 34-year-old resident of Venice, CA--not far from Worsham's Villa Park, CA home. "He not only knows how to tune them, but he obviously knows how to drive them and that kind of experience is immeasurable. With the addition of Del as crew chief, hopefully we've put together all the right pieces to have a very strong team, and I can learn so much from his two decades of driving experience."
Worsham would not have taken this position "if I didn't think it's going to be a winning combination. I think Alexis is going to be a winner and ultimately an NHRA champion some day. I'm also really looking forward to working with Connie, who knows more about nitro motors than anyone on the planet. Getting to work with him is truly an honor."
© 2011 Anne Proffit