Scott Kalitta, a two-time former NHRA Top Fuel champion and one of just 14 drivers to have won in both of NHRA’s nitro categories, died June 21, 2008, as the result of injuries suffered in a qualifying accident at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., during the running of the Lucas Oil NHRA SuperNationals. He was 46.
Kalitta was on a good pass until there was a huge engine explosion as he neared the finish line. The explosion shredded the rear of the body, sending pieces high in the air. The car continued through the shutdown area at high speed, into the sand and through the net, still at high speed. We could not see what happened after that, but there was a big ball of flame well past the sand pit, near the trees at the far end of the property. Then came the long wait for information from the accident scene, and word on Kalitta’s condition.
Kalitta is survived by wife Kathy, sons Cory (14) and Colin (9). He was the son of drag racing legend Connie Kalitta and cousin to current Top Fuel racer Doug Kalitta.
His death represents the second Funny Car fatality in as many years. Eric Medlen died in April 2007, the result of injuries sustained in an accident while testing.
Our prayers are with his family and friends. May God bless you in this tragedy.