Drag racing or any motorsport has so many ingredients – the main one is money. If you or your family doesn’t have couple of million dollars to drop on a competitive Professional fuel ride today, owners like Del Worsham and his dad Chuck must pick their battles as they look for more funding for the remainder of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello drag racing season. As the economy continues to improve, there are plenty of drivers and owners still looking for any sized pot of gold from a credible sponsor.
While competing at this weekend’s NHRA SpringNationals in Houston, Funny Car star and two-time NHRA World Champion Del Worsham announced that his racing operation will be temporarily parked and on the sidelines after the Houston event, while he continues to pursue additional funding for his organization. At this point in time, Worsham has plans for a return to NHRA competition at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, July 27-29 at Sonoma Raceway in California. If funding can be secured in the interim, the team will be ready to compete immediately.
Worsham has competed at all four NHRA Mello Yello national events prior to Houston, with backing from a consortium of associate sponsors, and has compiled a round record of 2-4 while earning 167 points, good enough for the No. 10 spot in the standings. His 2018 Toyota Camry has been consistent and fast at the prior two races, in Gainesville and Las Vegas, but the full-time search for additional marketing partners will be his primary focus moving forward.
“In some ways it’s one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, but in other ways it’s one of the easiest,” Worsham said. “I don’t think it’s any secret that we’re underfunded and kind of piecing this thing together. We had a little bit of a rough start, performance wise, in Pomona and Phoenix but we fixed the issues and we’ve been really consistent and real contenders at the last two races. I expect no less here in Houston.
“What I need now is time. These cars are expensive to run, even when things go perfectly, and in addition to that they consume almost all of your time when you have a small organization like ours. I work on it, service it, drive the transporter, tune it, and I drive it. My dad and I have a very talented, loyal, and hard-working crew, but I need to put 100 percent of my focus into continuing some conversations we’re having with a number of companies that already see what we have to offer. Hopefully, we can start a few additional conversations, as well. We will have the car ready to go, so if we can land a partnership we’ll be able to race at a moment’s notice. Otherwise, we’ll aim for Sonoma.”
The veteran driver and tuner is assisted by his father Chuck and a small crew. He is one of only three drivers to ever win the NHRA World Championship in both Top Fuel (2011) and Funny Car (2015), along with Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi. He drove his family owned car from 1991 through 2008, much of that with backing from auto parts retailer CSK Auto.
From 2009 through 2011 he drove for Al Anabi Racing, first in a Funny Car and then in a Top Fuel Dragster in 2011, when he won the championship. After one season as a crew chief he returned to the Funny Car driver’s seat, for Kalitta Motorsports, in 2013. In 2015 he added the NHRA Funny Car championship to his mantle.
In 2017, Worsham returned to the family operation, racing with his father Chuck and much of their current crew.
“I made that decision with my heart and I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Worsham said. “This is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. A lot of it felt like 1996 all over again, but it’s family and I wanted to race with my dad. I’ve won two championships and a lot of races, but the next bucket-list item was doing that with my dad. If any of the conversations we’re having right now turn into a major partnership, that company is going to be working with a championship-caliber team that’s ready to go.”
Further announcements will be forthcoming if Worsham’s quest for additional marketing partners is successful prior to the Sonoma race, thereby allowing an earlier return to racing.