Al-Anabi Names Second Driver
Reigning NHRA Pro Mod champion Khalid alBalooshi celebrated an in-house promotion at Al-Anabi Racing Wednesday, when he was introduced as driver of the team’s gold dragster – the car wheeled to the 2011 Top Fuel world championship by Del Worsham.
A 32-year-old native of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, alBalooshi began his tenure in the car owned by His Highness Sheik Khalid al Thani of Qatar and managed by Alan Johnson with a test session this week in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Worsham retired on Nov. 21, one week after winning his first NHRA Top Fuel world championship. On Monday, three-time Top Fuel world champion Larry Dixon abruptly exited Al-Anabi Racing, one year after giving the organization its first title. Dixon was replaced on Tuesday in the team’s silver Top Fuel dragster by Shawn Langdon, who joined alBalooshi in the test.
Prior to the session, alBalooshi never had driven a Top Fuel dragster. But he earned his license by completing a series of different-length passes, topped by a full 1,000-foot run as required by NHRA at 3.86-seconds and 319 mph.
“I like driving the Top Fuel car and learning what is going on with the car step-by-step. The car is perfect,” alBalooshi said in a news release. “Alan and all of the crew are taking good care of me; they’re paying close attention to where I need help. They’re making sure I’m comfortable in the car and checking on every detail, and that’s very important to me. I appreciate everyone doing this for us.”
The 10-race NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Series features a mix of iconic drag racing body styles ranging from the ’41 Willys to ’68 Chevrolet Camaros, as well as late-model Ford Mustangs and Dodge Vipers. Pro Mod cars typically run in the 5.0-second range at more than 250 mph.
“Going from 3,000-horsepower in Pro Mod up to 8,000-horsepower in Top Fuel is a big jump,” alBalooshi said. “In Top Fuel, you go faster and faster. It’s a big difference. It’s much faster from start-to-finish line than Pro Mod; the feeling is just so much faster. (Running) 3.86 at 319 mph is not bad; it‘s very good. I would like to thank Sheik Khalid and Alan Johnson for giving me this opportunity.”
During the 2011 season, alBalooshi won the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Championship by 31 points over Danny Rowe and the Arabian Drag Racing League Pro Mod Championship – winning five of the season’s seven races in Qatar. In addition, he finished second in the American Drag Racing League Pro Mod point standings. Last year, alBalooshi won Qatar’s Arabian Drag Racing League Pro Mod championship by taking four of eight races.
alBalooshi has won a combined 158 races in the Pro Mod, Outlaw and Super Street classes. He began his career as a professional driver in October 2001. Currently living in Dubai, alBalooshi plans to relocate to the United States. The team is headquartered domestically in Brownsburg, Ind.
alBalooshi is not the first rookie driver Johnson has brought into the National Hot Rod Association professional ranks. In 1997, Johnson fielded the Team Winston Top Fuel dragster with rookie Gary Scelzi. The team won 11 races and the NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship that year. The Johnson-Scelzi duo also captured the championship in 1998, winning six races.
“Khalid alBalooshi has been a star within the Al-Anabi Racing organization for many years,” said Johnson, a 14-time NHRA champion. “We at Alan Johnson Racing welcome him to our Top Fuel team with great excitement. Balooshi is a true competitor who has made the commitment to race Top Fuel and compete at the level of excellence we expect at Al-Anabi and AJR. Though Balooshi is a Top Fuel rookie, he has extensive drag racing experience, and we look forward to watching him learn to compete at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series level.
“When we started this team, we said that one of our goals was to promote international drag racing awareness, specifically in the nation of Qatar. Now we have a driver who has won a championship in Qatar competing in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Balooshi driving the Al-Anabi Top Fuel car will further that goal while galvanizing the reality that drag racing is becoming an international motorsport that appeals to many different cultures throughout the world.”No Comment