Connie Kalitta

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Connie Kalitta
Born
Conrad Kalitta

(1938-02-24) February 24, 1938 (age 84)
Michigan
Occupation(s)Auto Racer
Airline Owner
Previous series
Top Fuel and Funny Car races across: NHRA, AHRA, IHRA, NASCAR
Championship titles
IHRA Top Fuel 1979, 1982
Awards
1992 - Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
2001 - NHRA Top 50 Drivers of 1951–2000
2016 - NHRA Lifetime Achievement Award
Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster (2007)
Connie Kalitta vs. Dan Pastorini (1987)

Conrad "Connie" Kalitta (born February 24, 1938) is an American businessman and former drag racing driver, nicknamed "The Bounty Hunter". Kalitta is the CEO of Kalitta Air and the owner of Kalitta Motorsports.[1]

Kalitta was born in Michigan, grew up in Mount Clemens, and was a 1957 graduate of Mount Clemens High School.

He raced from the 1950s through the 1990s. He was the first driver of a Top Fuel dragster to hit 200 mph (320 km/h) in a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) sanctioned event – the 1964 NHRA U.S. Nationals.[2]

Kalitta teamed up with Shirley Muldowney as the Bounty Hunter and Bounty Huntress, in a pair of Ford Mustangs, hers a Buttera chassis, his a Logghe.[3]

Kalitta was runner-up at the 1963 NHRA Winternationals in Top Gas and at the 1965 NHRA SpringNationals in Top Fuel.[4] His first major event win was the 1967 American Hot Rod Association (AHRA) Winternationals in Scottsdale, Arizona, in a 427ci "cammer"–powered Top Fuel dragster.[4]

Kalitta stepped back from driving in 1971, focusing on growing his airline business. He first returned to the sport as Muldowney's crew chief – including her 1977 Top Fuel championship season – before getting back into a Top Fuel dragster in 1978.[2]

Kalitta won the 1989 NHRA Winternationals, most notable for the fact that the win included him becoming the first ever Top Fuel driver (any sanctioning series) to hit 290 mph (470 km/h).[2]

Kalitta ultimately won a total of 10 NHRA national events, including the 1994 Gatornationals and U.S. Nationals - his final title.

Kalitta was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1992.[5] In 2001, the 50th Anniversary list of National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951-2000, ranked Kalitta at #21.[2]

Kalitta was played by Beau Bridges, in a lead role, in the Muldowney biography film Heart Like a Wheel (1983).

He is the father of racer Scott Kalitta, killed in a drag racing crash in Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, in 2008.[6] He is the uncle of racer Doug Kalitta.

On November 14, 2016, Kalitta was honored at the season-ending Mello Yello Awards Ceremony with NHRA's first ever Lifetime Achievement Award.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kalitta Motorsports - About Connie Kalitta, Retrieved 2016-05-07
  2. ^ a b c d "No. 21: Connie Kalitta". National Hot Rod Association. 2000. Archived from the original on 2001-07-15. Retrieved 2005-09-26.
  3. ^ McClurg, Bob. "50 Years of Funny Cars: Part 2" in Drag Racer, November 2016, p. 46 caption.
  4. ^ a b Benson, Candida (2017-01-30). "High-Profile First Wins at the Winternationals | Connie Kalitta, Top Fuel (1967)". National Hot Rod Association. Archived from the original on 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2019-06-26. After runner-ups at the 1963 Winternationals in Top Gas and the 1965 Springnationals in Top Fuel, Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta claimed the first of his 10 NHRA national event Top Fuel titles.
  5. ^ "Connie Kalitta, Drag Racing, Class of 1992". Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2022-07-12.
  6. ^ "State Police Fatal Accident Unit Releases Findings on Drag Strip Crash that Claimed Life of Scott Kalitta". New Jersey State Police Office of Public Information (Press release). 2008-09-17. Archived from the original on 2015-09-27. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  7. ^ "Kalitta honored with first NHRA Lifetime Achievement Award". National Hot Rod Association. 2016-11-15. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2016-11-17.