Del Worsham picks family first for 2017 NHRA Funny Car ride

Past champion goes back home after successful run at Kalitta Motorsports

Feb. 1, 2017 — Blood is thicker than nitromethane … for Del Worsham, anyway. That’s why, after earning a sought-after NHRA Funny Car championship in 2015 to match the 2011 Top Fuel crown he’d never really planned to pursue, he decided to leave his well-funded DHL-Kalitta Motorsports gig to team again with father Chuck Worsham, his original and longtime racing partner.

“It was a hard decision to leave a championship-caliber team,” Worsham said. “However, there is so much unfinished business with my family’s team. … I am excited to race alongside my dad again.”

The decision was “strictly personal.”

Despite a modest budget, Worsham has a choice of cars for 2017. He can drive the Dodge Charger his dad has campaigned with several journeyman racers, or he can hop back in the newer Funny Car he drove to victory at the World Series of Drag Racing in September at Memphis.


He said, “I haven’t decided which car to start with,” but he has faith in both.

“I think the car and equipment are capable of winning. The team made three-second runs at Indy and Pomona, so with some fine-tuning and funding, we should have performance,” Worsham said.

With all of their combined building, tuning and driving expertise, the Wor-shams would shock no one if they appeared in a winner’s circle in 2017. The one hitch? Sponsorship. As of mid-December, the Worshams had no outside funding.

“I kind of jumped into this with no real plan other than a dream again,” Worsham said.

“Our first race will be Pomona (the Feb. 9-12 Circle K Winternationals at Pomona, California). And we are currently trying to secure funding for a complete NHRA Mello Yello season.” he said. “We started this project pretty late, and it will probably take multiple sponsors throughout the season.”

Worsham left a premier ride as the reigning Top Fuel champion in late 2011 to mentor Alexis DeJoria. As is the case for the most recent change, he said, “The time is just right. The biggest thing that influenced me was I’m not getting any younger (he turns 47 during opening weekend at Pomona), and my dad’s not getting any younger.”

The father-son tandem began at the final race of 1990, and Worsham soon stood out as 1991 NHRA Rookie of the Year. Within a decade, they evolved from low-budget privateers to a two-car team. Through fire and injury, through sponsorship and performance droughts, they stuck together and forged happier memories. But when their funding halted, so did their team. Worsham had to strike out elsewhere. Eventually, Dad fielded the family car. Worsham wants to complete that circle.

By Susan Wade/Autoweek