SEATTLE (August 6, 2016) – Championship-winning tuner Todd Smith has been named as the crew chief on the McLeod Racing Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by Paul Lee. Smith will lead the third Funny Car team for Kalitta Motorsports that will begin running at the NHRA Keystone Nationals later this fall.
“I am excited to be back with Team Kalitta and to be able to work with Paul and the McLeod team on putting this new operation together,” said Smith. “Lee is a talented driver and with the Kalitta equipment; I am confident in our chances to have success.”
Smith has spent five seasons previously with Kalitta Motorsports working with drivers Connie, Doug and Scott Kalitta throughout the late nineties. After departing, he led Jack Beckman to the 2012 Funny Car Championship. Last season, he worked with Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel team.
“I’m excited that Todd Smith has joined our McLeod Racing Kalitta Motorsports Funny Car Team,” said Lee. “Todd is very experienced and is a proven winner. He has won races with many different teams and cars over the years, culminating with the 2012 Funny Car World Championship with driver Jack Beckman. Jim O(berhofer) is assembling an awesome team which will make our Funny Car a contender and capable of winning each time we pull up to the staging beams. I’m looking forward to working with Todd and our Kalitta Motorsports Team!”
Smith will join an elite group of crew chiefs at Kalitta Motorsports including Connie Kalitta, Jim and Jon Oberhofer, Nicky Boninfante, Tommy DeLago, Glen Huzsar and Rob Flynn.
“Todd has been part of the Kalitta Motorsports team in the past and I am excited that he is back with us,” said Jim Oberhofer, Vice President of Operations, Kalitta Motorsports. “He is a championship-caliber crew chief and will not only add a lot to Paul’s McLeod Racing team, but Kalitta Motorsports as a whole.”
Sonoma, Calif. (July 29, 2016) - Team Kalitta is pleased to announce the addition of a third Funny Car with driver Paul Lee beginning the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway later this fall. Lee will campaign the McLeod Clutches Toyota Camry Funny Car for Kalitta Motorsports for the last four events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule. Leading NHRA crew chiefs Jim Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante will combine for the tuning decisions on Lee’s Funny Car.
“I am beyond excited to be joining Kalitta Motorsports as part of their team,” says Paul Lee, who has been driving Funny Cars for over 25 years. “To be driving for Connie Kalitta and his awesome NHRA drag racing organization is something I’ve worked for and dreamed of my entire career. It will be an honor to drive a car tuned by Jim O and Nicky as well. The Kalitta team will give me a great car; it will be up to me to close the deal on Sunday. I look forward to that challenge and the opportunities that are ahead.”
The expansion will allow Kalitta Motorsports to run a fifth team for the first time in their history. Lee will be campaigning for a multi-car team for the first time as he will join teammates, Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster; J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster; Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, and Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car in the field for the last four 2016 events. Lee will be piloting Worsham’s 2015 championship car with the DHL team acquiring a new Bounty Hunter chassis for the latter part of the season. He will own the equipment, but it will be run out of the Kalitta Motorsports Ypsilanti, Michigan-based shop.
“We are really pleased to be able to partner with Paul in this capacity,” said Oberhofer, Vice President of Operations, Kalitta Motorsports. “He will be owning equipment that is proven. It is a great way for Team Kalitta expand business and get Paul to the track in a top-notch team at an affordable rate with an experienced crew.”
Lee is the President of McLeod Racing LLC, a global leader in automotive and clutch driveline technology based in Orange County, California. He started drag racing at age 18 in his home state of New Jersey. Lee drove Top Alcohol Funny Cars from 1988 until 2005, and won three NHRA National Event titles and one divisional race. Paul stepped up to the Nitro Funny Cars in 2005 and has one Professional Nitro Funny Car title, winning the IHRA Motor City Nationals in 2008. Today, Paul drives exclusively in the NHRA Nitro Funny Car class, running as quick as 4.007 at nearly 318mph in Chuck & Del Worsham’s Funny Car. Paul resides in Orange County, California.