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NHRA To Honor Memory of Kalitta

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, June 11 2009
Scott Kalitta lost his life a year ago at Englishtown.

Scott Kalitta lost his life a year ago at Englishtown.

RacinToday.com

Scott Kalitta, one of NHRA’s greatest drivers and champions, will be remembered during two special ceremonies this weekend at the United Association NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Kalitta died one year ago at this event as a result of injuries he suffered after a high-speed racing accident.

The two-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion will be remembered first on Friday during the first Funny Car qualifying session.

Jeff Arend, who is now piloting Kalitta’s DHL Toyota Solara, will make the first qualifying run as a single in the left lane in honor of Kalitta. Before Arend’s single pass, NHRA will show a Kalitta video tribute on the ACDelco Vision big screen video display.

It was Kalitta’s death that led to the NHRA’s decision to shorten runs from a quarter mile down to 1,000 feet.

Kalitta’s peers will never forget what happened last year at the Englishtown, N.J. track.

Funny Car driver Jack Beckman was in the water box preparing to do a burnout before his final attempt to qualify when, on the track in front of him, Kalitta crashed. 

It was Beckman’s last chance to qualify for the event and he failed to do so. He returned home to California the next day with a heavy heart. 

“We didn’t qualify last year for the SuperNationals, as the NHRA cancelled the rest of the qualifying that day when Scott had his accident,” said Beckman, a cancer survivor and former Air Force sergeant. “It didn’t matter to me. It’s the first time that I could ever think of in my racing career where qualifying didn’t actually seem all that important.

“It’s never going to be the same,” he said following the loss. “It’s not like one day we went, OK, well, we’re over that. You’ll never get over it. There is a time frame when it hurts almost constantly. And then when you get past that it’s a memory and a tugging at the heart when you think of the people we have lost.

“It’s going to be bittersweet going back to Englishtown,” he said. “We’ll have a chance to honor Scott amongst all the crews and the teams and remember him for the great racer and person he was.”

On Sunday prior to the start of eliminations, NHRA will observe a moment of silence to honor Kalitta during pre-race ceremonies and will again show the video tribute.

Kalitta, the son of NHRA legend Connie Kalitta, earned 18 victories during his career and claimed back-to-back Top Fuel world championship titles in 1994 and 1995. He is one of 14 drivers in NHRA history to earn victories in both premier nitro categories.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, June 11 2009
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