Photo: Kalitta Motorsports

NHRA surprise: Kalitta Motorsports parts ways with Jim Oberhofer after 30-plus years

4 Comments

In one of the most surprising moves of the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Kalitta Motorsports announced it has parted ways with long-time crew chief and company executive Jim Oberhofer.

Team Kalitta owner Connie Kalitta made the announcement in a media release.

What makes the news all the more surprising is its timing: the NHRA just began its six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs this past weekend at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania.

Now with five races remaining in the playoffs, Troy Fasching will replace Oberhofer as crew chief on Doug Kalitta’s Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.

Doug Kalitta is currently ranked sixth in the Top Fuel standings, 116 points behind series leader Steve Torrence, heading into this weekend’s second playoff race at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis,

Oberhofer had served with Kalitta Motorsports for more than 30 years and had held a variety of positions, including Vice President of Operations, as well as most recently as Doug Kalitta’s crew chief.

“I want to thank Jim for his years at Kalitta Motorsports and appreciate everything he accomplished here. I wish him the best in the future,” Connie Kalitta said in a statement.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).