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Legends Of The Sport;/ Connie Kalitta
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The second in a series of Articles, "Legends of the Sport", we will look back on the colorful career of Conrad Kalitta. Born February 24, 1938, Connie started racing in the late 50's competing in A/D & AA/D, he switched over to Fuel Dragsters in the 60's & started touring in 1963. Known as the "Bounty Hunter" because he had a list of names on the side of his car and each time he would beat one of them he would mark the name off..

In 1967 Connie bought a Cessna 310 and opened Kalitta Air, hauling parts to the race tracks for the racers. His business soon blossomed into an international Air Cargo business known as American International Airways. Hauling such items as Medical Supplies and Equipment, Food, Machinery and Livestock, his fleet of aircraft includes 24- B747' & Lear Jets. his aircraft has carried Equipment and Supplies to our Troops in Desert Shield/ Desert Storm and Afghanistan.

Connie's main love was always Drag racing so he returned to the sport and continued racing, he quit driving in the late 1990's, but his son Scott and his Nephew Doug kept the legacy alive. In June of 2008 Scott was killed in a freak top end crash in Englishtown, NJ. when his Funny Car burst into flames causing his parachutes to fail. He went through the lights at 300 mph and hit a concrete filled guard rail at the end of the track. Many changes were implemented after that, the most notable being they shortened the race track from 1320 feet to 1000 feet for all fuel cars thus giving them more room to stop in the shut down area.

Today, Connie is still active in drag racing, although he no longer drives, he has two Top Fuel dragsters and one Top Fuel Funny Car in the field. His Nephew Doug still drives one Top Fuel Dragster along with David Grubnic in the other Top Fuel Dragster. Connie decided to keep Scott's Funny Car active so he hired Jeff Arend to drive it. Connie Kalitta has just about done everything possible in his Drag Racing career. He was inducted into the Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and was voted number 21 out of the top 50 drivers.

In the movie, "Heart Like a Wheel", Connie was played by Beau Bridges and Shirley was played by Bonnie Bedelia, if you like Drag Racing or just want to know more about their early years, this is a must see. I have seen the Video numerous times and still enjoy it every time I see it.


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