Race Reports
Paul Lee Racing

Funny Car racer Paul Lee, who will make his season debut at the Toyota NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas as part of the Kalitta Motorsports team, visited the Wally Parks NHRA Studio where Amanda Busick spoke with him about his new team and his plans for the future.

Lee will campaign the McLeod Clutches Toyota Camry Funny Car for Kalitta Motorsports for the last two events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. Veteran Todd Smith will be tuning the car.

Lee, who resides in Orange County, Calif., is the president of McLeod Racing LLC, a global leader in automotive and clutch driveline technology. He will own the equipment, but it will be run out of the Kalitta Motorsports Ypsilanti, Mich.-based shop.

Lee began 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. Lee stepped up to nitro Funny Cars in 2005 and has run as quick as 4.007 at nearly 318 mph.

Paul Lee Racing

Todd SmithSEATTLE (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.”

Paul Lee

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.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Todd wins Sonoma

Race Recap: After just missing his third consecutive final in Denver, Todd looked for another solid Sonoma performance. Little did he know, the SealMaster team was about ready for a breakthrough.

Todd set his spot in the field with a solid 3.731 on Friday evening's session and earned the seventh starting spot.

The starting spot did not yield an easy draw for the driver of the SealMaster Toyota. Clay Millican would be in the other lane. The second pair to see the track, and Todd got the advantage on the starting line and took that down the track to the round win. Antron Brown, who eliminated Todd last weekend in Denver, was next up. They were neck-and-neck at the line, and Rob Flynn and Connie Kalitta nailed the tune-up yielding the best winning elapsed time of round two setting up an all-Kalitta semi-final pairing. It would become a pedalfest with both Todd and Kalitta experiencing tire smoke but Todd was able to get to the line first earning his third final round in four events.

His opponent in the final was good friend Richie Crampton. The duo left together but the SealMaster team had the horsepower to get the win at the stripe. It is Todd's first win of the season, ninth of his career. Todd has scored 12 round wins in the last four races.

Qualified: No. 7 (3.731 sec., 324.05 mph)

  • E1: Todd defeated Millican - 3.743 sec., 326.95 mph to 6.972 sec., 82.18 mph
  • E2: Todd defeated Brown - 3.746 sec., 326.48 mph to 4.854 sec., 156.81 mph
  • E3: Todd defeated Kalitta - 4.122 sec., 264.96 mph to 4.513 sec., 231.52 mph

Final: Todd defeated Crampton - 3.745 sec., 324.83 mph to 3.806 sec., 313.07 mph

Quotable: "It was a great day. Three 3.74s on Sunday in our SealMaster Toyota, that’s pretty stout from Connie (Kalitta) and all of our guys. We’ve been so close so many times this year."

"Eric Medlen's mom gave me a poster of my car with this win is for Eric before the final round and I carried it in my firesuit. He definitely brought me good luck and was watching over that run."

"The crowd here in Sonoma was huge. This is definitely one of the nicer tracks we go to – beautiful country side. We just had a huge crowd all weekend. That’s a testament to Steve Page and his staff here at Sonoma Raceway."

"The last 3 or 4 races, this thing has been digging pretty good. Yesterday I was a little down and out. We weren’t very good on Saturday and I was thinking we were in bad shape for race day. But you never count out Connie Kalitta and the boys. They stepped up to the plate big-time today.”

Point Standings: Sixth (-307); trails fifth-place Tony Schumacher by 74 points, leads seventh-place Shawn Langton by 61 points

Team DHL 

Worsham hits career-best numbers in Sonoma

Race Recap: In front of the Toyota executives, Worsham knew that this would be a big weekend and the DHL Toyota Camry team came to perform. With prime conditions on Friday evening, the DHL Toyota team took advantage. They laid down a track record 3.868 second pass, which was also Worsham's career-best. That run gave Worsham his second pole in four races and second at Sonoma Raceway.

Worsham's opponent would be first-time starter Tim Gibbons. Gibbons left a little early giving the win to Worsham despite having troubles downtrack. Next up, would be last year's Sonoma Raceway winner, Jack Beckman. Worsham laid down an awesome reaction time and took that to the line to advance to his second consecutive semi-final. He could not get the win in a close race with Ron Capps there, but another solid weekend for the DHL Toyota team.

Qualified: No. 1 (3.868 sec., 327.43 mph)


  • E1: Worsham defeated Gibbons - 4.950 sec., 153.86 mph to foul
  • E2: Worsham defeated Beckman - 3.958 sec., 322.04 mph to 7.608 sec., 86.88 mph
  • E3: Worsham defeated by Capps - 3.977 sec., 320.97 mph to 3.938 sec., 324.51 mph

Quotable: "Disappointing end to a solid weekend for the DHL Toyota team. Keep knocking on the door of that win, and eventually we are going to get it. Looking forward to Seattle and hopefully getting the win there."

Point Standings: Fourth (-54); trails with third-place Jack Beckman by 71 points, leads fifth-place John Force by 23 points

Doug Kalitta

Kalitta advances to another semi-final

Race Recap: Kalitta and the Mac Tools team came to Sonoma Raceway looking for a rebound and this track was a great place to do it. Kalitta is the track leader with five wins, and started strong in qualifying. The Friday evening session was again the one to set Kalitta in the field and he did it well slotting the Mac Tools Toyota dragster into the third position with a 3.711 second pass.

Kalitta's extreme driving skills came into play on Sunday. The Mac Tools team came up to the line against Bill Litton in the first round. Kalitta got ahead at the line, but the machine began to smoke. He pedaled and got the Mac Tools machine to the line first, leading to a second round race with Brittany Force. The driver of the Mac Tools machine got advantage at the starting line and was able to take that to the finish line despite Force running the low number of the round. He came up short in the semi-finals to his teammate J.R. Todd, but it was another solid effort for the Mac Tools team who reached their tenth semi-final or better in just 15 races this season.

Qualified: No. 3 (3.711 sec., 324.28 mph)

  • E1: Kalitta defeated Litton - 4.098 sec., 255.48 mph to 5.214 sec., 122.60 mph
  • E2: Kalitta defeated B. Force - 3.782 sec., 326.95 mph to 3.743 sec., 325.30 mph (Holeshot win Kalitta .065/Force .115)
  • E3: Kalitta defeated by Todd - 4.513 sec., 231.52 mph to 4.122 sec., 264.96 mph

Quotable: "Nice rebound and great work from the Mac Tools Toyota guys today. I would have loved to have got back in the Sonoma winner's circle, but we have a great machine and I look forward to next week's Northwest Nationals."

Point Standings: Second (-37); trails first-place Antron Brown by 37 points, leads third-place Steve Torrence by 95 points

Contact with wall ends DeJoria's Sonoma run

Race Recap: After starting qualifying with a solid 3-second pass, DeJoria struggled through qualifying, but was able to hit a solid 3.946 in the final session. Last week's winner, John Force was the first draw. After taking the tree, DeJoria's machine sashayed and tagged the wall in her lane. DeJoria climbed from the machine on her own power, and was transported to the local hospital for pain. She was later released from the hospital diagnosed with high-energy fracture of the left pelvis.

Qualified: No. 11 (3.946 sec., 319.45 mph)

  • E1: DeJoria defeated by J. Force - DQ (contact with wall) to 3.936 sec., 71.25 mph

Point Standings: Tenth (-446); trails ninth-place Tim Wilkerson by 63 points, leads 11th-place Chad Head by 150 points