The past three seasons Doug Kalitta has started the season off with four straight win lights on race day and a trip to the winner’s circle behind the wheel of his Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster. For the perennial championship contender the traditional season opening NHRA Winternationals has been his playground. This year if Kalitta wants to extend his win streak to four, he will have to make it happen on the opposite coast. The start of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will kick off at the historic Gatornationals for the first time ever this weekend.
“I love running Gainesville,” said Kalitta, a three-time Gatornationals Top Fuel champion. “I’ve always been a big Don Garlits fan and that’s his home. To be able to go there and start the season with a win would be huge for us.”
With his next victory Kalitta will become just the fifth driver in NHRA history to win 50 Top Fuel events. Last year he won his 700th round of racing continuing to add his Hall of Fame career stats. The history of successful season starts has Kalitta confident in his chances of winning his fourth consecutive season-opener.
“I feel confident that we can do it,” said Kalitta, during pre-season testing. “The car has been testing well and was running well at the end of last year. We’ve had more time than we ever wanted to get the season started, so we’re ready to get the 2021 season going.”
For the twentieth season in a row Kalitta will be representing Mac Tools, making the association one of the longest in the history of the NHRA. The partnership has remained strong due to Kalitta’s on-track performance but also his ability to connect with Mac Tools distributors, guests and executives.
“Mac Tools has been with us 20 years now. They’re a strong group and they love drag racing,” explained Kalitta. ”We’re happy to have the opportunity to represent them. They’re a part of everything we do – not only in racing, but back at the shop and with the airplane. They’re not just a sponsor, but a true partner. Bob Lawson and everyone in our marketing program have put together a terrific group of sponsors. We’re fortunate to not only have Mac Tools behind us, but other sponsors like Toyota and TRD, Mobil 1, SealMaster, NGK Spark Plugs and Revchem.
Leading up to the Gatornationals Kalitta’s team tested at West Palm Beach to shake the rust off his 11,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster and reintroduce Kalitta and his team to the rhythms of building and rebuilding the race car after each run.
“I’m fortunate to have the guys on this Mac Tools team. We really didn’t have much turnover from last year. We had just one change and the person we brought in had been with us for three or four years previously,” added Kalitta.
2020 NHRA Gatornationals Highlights: Qual. No. 6, Lost to Terry McMillen
Last Event Recap (2020 NHRA Las Vegas Finals): Qual. No. 3; Lost to Justin Ashley
Career Stats: 524 events, 517 starts, 711 round wins, 49 wins, 105 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers