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. 

We 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… 

That 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.

You felt comfortable in this car? 

Kalitta: Yeah this is the Spiderweb car we ran three quarters of the year of ’04.   

So it felt familiar then.  

Kalitta:Oh yeah. 

I 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.  


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