Racin’ Notes: Al-Anabi Makes Moves

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, January 6 2011

Alan Johnson and Al-Anabi Racing have made off season moves.

In Racin’ news on Thursday:

Brian Husen has been named the crew chief of Del Worsham’s Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster, it was announced Thursday.  Rod Centorbi will remain the assistant crew chief on Worsham’s team which is in the process of switching from Funny Car to Top Fuel.

Husen’s promotion to crew chief on Worsham’s team comes after two years as the assistant crew chief on Larry Dixon’s Top Fuel team that won the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel championship and finished second in 2009.

Prior to joining the Al-Anabi Racing team, Husen, 37, worked alongside then assistant crew chief Jason McCulloch in coordinating team management and logistics on the way to winning five consecutive Top Fuel championships with the U.S. Army team.  A native of Grand Rapids, Mich, Husen is a 15-year drag racing veteran.

“We are very fortunate to have someone of Brian’s capabilities heading Del Worsham’s Top Fuel team,” team manager Alan Johnson said.  “I have worked with Brian for many years, and I am completely confident in his abilities to properly manage this race team.  He has evolved into a solid manager with a deep understanding of how these cars operate, and I am sure he is ready to take this next step in his career.”

“I’m very excited to have this opportunity,” Husen said.  “There aren’t many people who get the chance to carry Alan’s books for him, so I want to take advantage of my opportunity and make the most of it. I have learned so much from Alan (Johnson) and Jason (McCulloch) over the years, and I appreciate everything they have done to help prepare me for this next step in my career.

“We have a championship-caliber team from top to bottom; we just have to take all the parts and make them work together.  If we fail, it’ll be because we didn’t get the job done, not because we didn’t have something we needed. For the last 10 years, I’ve known that I really enjoy what I do and that if I wanted to be able to do this for the rest of my career, I had to give myself a chance to be in this position so I’m happy to be a crew chief and ready to get started. I am thankful for the confidence Alan (Johnson) has in me, and I’ll do everything I can to make our team the best it can be.”

“I’m totally psyched to have Brian on our team,” Worsham said.  “Brian brings a lot of Top Fuel experience over here which the rest of our team doesn’t have.  With Brian’s Top Fuel knowledge and his experience working with Alan (Johnson) and Jason (McCulloch), he knows the Top Fuel side of the sport so having him on our team should make the transition to Top Fuel easier for the rest of our team.

“I’m also excited about Brian’s promotion to crew chief.  He’s been working in this sport for a long time as an assistant crew chief working with Alan and Jason so this is a great opportunity for him.  We’re all happy for him and look forward to working together.”

Centorbi served as the assistant crew chief on Worsham’s Funny Car in 2009 and ’10 and will retain his responsibilities.  He was Worsham’s interim crew chief for the final three races of the 2010 season; the remainder of Worsham’s crew remains intact.  Worsham finished sixth in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car point standings after finishing seventh in 2009.  Worsham is no stranger to Top Fuel racing. He competed in 22 races as a Top Fuel driver between 1993 and ’95.

Ronnie Thompson has joined the Al-Anabi Racing team as the assistant crew chief on Dixon’s Top Fuel team replacing Husen.  Thompson will work alongside Jason McCulloch in tuning Dixon’s dragster.  Prior to joining the Al-Anabi Racing Team, Thompson was the assistant crew chief on Ron Capps’ Funny Car with former crew chief Ed McCulloch.

“Ronnie is an excellent addition to the Al-Anabi Racing Team,” Johnson said.  “That group of guys has been together for a long time, and I think Ronnie will fit in very well.  He has been in the sport for a long time, and he will be a great resource for Jason as that team looks to defend its 2010 championship.”

KV Racing Technology has named Tom Wurtz as team manager for its Indianapolis-based racing organization.

Wurtz, a Chicago native, comes to KV Racing Technology in 2011 after more than three decades in open-wheel racing as a team manager, operations manager and chief mechanic with Penske Racing, Newman Haas Racing and other racing organizations.

For the past 15 years, Wurtz was charged with overseeing the Penske IndyCar Series racing team including managing the engineering, fabrication, paint, drive line components, electrical, transportation and accounting departments.  The Penske IndyCar Series effort won 57 races (including five Indianapolis 500 titles) and three national championships (with drivers Gil de Ferran and Sam Hornish Jr.).

At Newman Haas Racing, Wurtz was operations manager and chief mechanic for eight years, contributing to 25 race wins and two series titles (with drivers Michael Andretti and Nigel Mansell).  Wurtz’s background dates to the 1970s when he was a mechanic in Can-Am and Formula 5000 competition.

KV Racing Technology, established in 2003, campaigned three full-time cars in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series with drivers Mario Moraes, Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso as well a fourth car in the two Canadian races for veteran Paul Tracy. KVRT is currently formulating its 2011 driver and sponsorship lineup. KVRT also will be teaming with SH Racing for a 2011 Indy 500 entry in the event’s 100th anniversary.

“Tom Wurtz is a great addition to KV Racing Technology,” said Kevin Kalkhoven, team co-owner and founder.  “Tom is a respected team leader and holds an outstanding racing record through his career.  We look forward to having Tom as part of our leadership in 2011.”

Former series champion and team co-owner Jimmy Vasser also has admired Wurtz’s work ethic.

“We are thrilled to have a strong operations and technical manager like Tom Wurtz join KV Racing Technology,” said Vasser.  “Tom’s outstanding management skills and his vast racing experience gives our organization one of open-wheel’s top executives.  Working closely with our general manager, Mark Johnson, the engineering staff and the crew members, Tom will contribute solid coordination within our team that can take KV Racing Technology to a consistent front runner in the highly-competitive IZOD IndyCar Series.”

Mark Johnson, now in his sixth year at KV Racing Technology, believes Wurtz’ racing knowledge and winning attitude brings a new outlook to the company.

“Tom’s great open-wheel racing background and superb organizational strategies will be a tremendous asset for KV Racing Technology,” said Johnson, a longtime motorsports executive in both two-wheel and four-wheel competition.  “We look forward to adding Tom to our already strong team personnel and preparing for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series.”

“I am very excited to come to KV Racing Technology,” said Wurtz.  “I know their aspiration is to win.  This team has a great core of people who have won races in the past and they want to get back to the winner’s circle.  I know everyone here believes they can be competitive and race for wins.  That is my philosophy too.  So I am thrilled and blessed to be involved with this group and look forward to preparing for a very strong 2011 season.”

Wurtz began his new role at KV Racing Technology on Wednesday.

In a move to better serve the needs of the racing community at all levels of competition, NHRA will move its technical department headquarters to Indianapolis.   The tech department will be housed at the offices at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, and continue to be headed by current vice president of technical operations, Glen Gray.

“We have been aggressively expanding our technical services capabilities and believe this move will enhance our ability to not only serve our constituents, but retain and recruit some of the finest technical talent in the country,” said Tom Compton, president, NHRA.

With the move, the tech department will be more readily available to the racing community, given the number of teams based in Indianapolis and the number of licensed drivers in the Eastern and Central time zones.   In addition, the proximity to a more active drag strip will allow for further testing opportunities for all categories and products of drag racing.

The move will take place over the course of the next few months, with Gray moving to the Indianapolis area later this year. NHRA will maintain a technical presence on the West Coast, with Danny Gracia, national technical director, remaining in the company’s Glendora, Calif. headquarters, along with technical services representative and newly appointed Division 7 tech director, Pat Cvengros.

NHRA has been placing personnel in key locations around the country over the last year.  Besides the tech department headquarters moving to Indianapolis, NHRA recently established a sales office in Charlotte, N.C. led by vice president of sales and business development, Tony Driscoll.

NHRA’s corporate headquarters will remain in Glendora, Calif.   The Southern California area has long been identified as the birthplace of the sport and it was there, 60 years ago, that Wally Parks founded the National Hot Rod Association.

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, January 6 2011
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