Scott Kalitta's Fatal Crash
Scott Kalitta was a popular drag racer. He was raised into a family of
dragster lovers. He was the son of Connie Kalitta, a Hall of Fame dragster
driver and team owner, and cousin to Doug Kalitta, Jr. winner of the 2007
NHRA Top Fuel drag title, who is the son of the late Doug Kalitta, Sr. also
a drag racer.
A resident of Palmetto, FL, Scott Kalitta had started racing at Old Bridge
Township Raceway Park in 1982. He was a NHRA Top Fuel successful driver,
with 17 career victories, in addition to one Funny Car win. Kalitta was the
1994 and 1995 NHRA Top Fuel season champion.
At the time of his death he was one of only 14 drivers in NHRA history to
earn victories in both premier nitro categories. His first win came in a
Funny Car race in Houston in 1989, this was his only success in this
category. In 1993 Kalitta won his first Top Fuel race at Topeka, KS, also
recording the fastest speed in NHRA history (308.64 mi/h).
The following year he became the first Top Fuel driver to have four
straight event wins (Columbus, Topeka, Denver and Sonoma) he also won a
race in Reading and at the end of the season he graduated the national
champion. In 1995 he won again the title with six wins (Columbus, twice in
Topeka, Denver, Reading and Dallas). In 1996 and 1997 he won again in
Kalitta retired from racing in 1997, but returned in 1999 for ten races,
and again in 2003 when he joined his cousin Doug Kalitta, Jr. in the
The first victory after his comeback came in Denver in 2004, the following
year he won at Pomona and in Chicago. This was to be his last win. At the
end of the season he returned to Funny Cars but did not have as much
success as he had in Top Fuel.
Scott Kalitta died on 21 June 2008, during a qualifying for the Lucas Oil
NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in New Jersey. His
yellow Toyota Solara was traveling at about 300 mi/h when the engine
suddenly exploded engulfing the car in flames and damaging the parachutes.
The car did not stop and continued towards the end of the dragstrip
decreasing minimally its speed and crashed into the barriers at the end of
the sand trap.
Kalitta was extracted from his car by NHRA emergency services officials and
taken to the Old Bridge division of Raritan Bay Medical Center, where he
died shortly later.
Scott Kalitta was survived by his wife, Kathy, sons Corey, 14, and Colin,
8; father, Connie Kalitta; several cousins, including Doug, Wendy, Kelly,
Mary and Catherine.