Doug Kalitta has cemented his place in NHRA drag racing history after claiming his 50th career win at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, in a rain-delayed race that wrapped up on Monday. His incredible achievement has made him one of the most successful drivers of all time, placing him in the company of racing legends such as John Force, Warren Johnson, and Tony Schumacher.
Kalitta’s passion for racing goes back to his teenage years when he started competing in local drag races. His talent soon caught the attention of his uncle, Connie Kalitta, a former Top Fuel driver himself, who offered to mentor him and help him pursue his dream. Doug’s debut at the 1998 Winternationals marked the beginning of a long and illustrious career that has spanned over two decades.
In his earliest years, Kalitta became known for his consistency and his ability to perform well under pressure. He earned his first professional win in 1999 at the AutoZone Winternationals, just one year after joining the Kalitta Motorsports team. Since then, he has won races at nearly every major NHRA track in the country and even picked up an international victory at the Australian Nationals in 2007.
Kalitta’s success isn’t just limited to race wins, however. He has been recognized as one of the most consistent drivers in the sport, having finished in the top three in the championship standings for eight consecutive seasons from 2013 to 2020. His runner-up finishes in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2014, 2016, and 2018 are a testament to his unwavering determination and competitive spirit.
At the 2023 NHRA Pep Boys NHRA Nationals ,Kalitta qualified third and won three rounds of competition before facing off against his teammate, Shawn Langdon, in the final. In a thrilling showdown, Kalitta took the win with a time of 3.716 seconds at 329.10 mph, securing his 50th career victory. The milestone win was well deserved after an already impressive season, which has seen Kalitta earn three No. 1 qualifiers and six final round appearances.
“Getting a win with Alan Johnson (co-crew chief) has been huge on my list. Can’t thank Brian Husen (co-crew chief), Mac Tools, Toyota and all of the distributors with Mac Tools enough for continuing to support this effort. It’s a great way to start the Countdown to the Championship. Apparently, this (backup) car wanted to get off the trailer and prove what it could do. I’m fortunate to have the guys build a car like this”.
His even temperament has been put to the test for nearly three years as he has worked and waited for win No. 50. His 49th came in St. Louis in October of 2020, and since then, Kalitta has been to the final round four times and come up dry. That’s 60 – SIXTY – races between wins.
Doug Kalitta’s incredible career has been defined by hard work, dedication, and a passion for drag racing that has never wavered. His 50th win is a testament to his incredible talent and unwavering commitment to excellence.