By Jon Van Daal, Photos
by Ron Lewis
|ecently, journeyman racer and dual NHRA Top Fuel Champion Scott Kalitta took a trip down under and did what he does best — win. Driving his 2004 Spiderweb car, he took on the best the Australians could throw at him and came out a winner — probably for the last time for a while at the butterfly of a Top Fuel dragster. Here he speaks with our Australian correspondent JON VAN DAAL about why he went south for the winter, about fuel funny cars and about what 2006 holds for him.
Firstly, welcome to Australia. I guess
the climate is a bit similar to where you live (Florida).
Kalitta: Yes it is — it’s
a bit drier now than we normally have but for the most part
it is pretty much the same.
are going to talk to you about your move to Funny Car but
right now we might start with your racing down here. How
did the car feel in qualifying? (The
interview was held on the morning of eliminations at the
recent Nitro Thunder USA Top Fuel Invasion Boxing Day event
at Western Sydney International Dragway — Ed.)
Kalitta:Pretty good — we had a few goofy things
happen and we’re not sure what’s going on. We
kinda, sorta think we may kick ourselves in the butt because
we didn’t get the car ready to run again last night
(for its third qualifying pass) because we think now that
we could have…
had the best conditions?
Kalitta: Yeah they were the best conditions number one and number
two now we think we know what’s going on and we really
wouldn’t know what was going on for sure until we ran
it again. In a way we kinda think we are a bit behind the
eight ball today but even it if it runs like it did on the
second run we think we’ll have enough to get by the
first round and we can learn more from there.
felt comfortable in this car?
Kalitta: Yeah this is the Spiderweb car we ran three quarters
of the year of ’04.
it felt familiar then.
overheard you say that the track was greasy.
Kalitta: Yeah that’s
normal whether it is here or in the States. With the climate
you have now it’s going
to be greasy and tricky — there is nothing you can
do about it. The concrete portion of the track is good — it
was good enough to run as good as we did — obviously — as
good as Davey (Dave Grubnic — Ed.) did last and as
good as we probably could have run.
The asphalt — we don’t get to run on this as
much as we would do on a normal race track that we have over
there. If you guys were to run as much here as we do over
there then the asphalt might very well come around to be
as good. The asphalt is harder to get to come around when
you don’t run as much.
We go to certain national events and it takes a run or a
couple of runs to come around. If it’s a new surface
it takes a couple of sessions of the pro cars for it to come
around. I think the heat, you don’t ever get enough
runs on it, is going to be the limiting factor about going
to the next round.