Del Worsham does not fear reinvention. He joined Kalitta Motorsports in 2013 to race Funny Car and became a champion in a second class, one of a select few to win titles in both Nitro categories. He left the organization to race with his dad in 2017, where he tuned and drove alongside his father.
Those two seasons were difficult. Worsham comes back to Kalitta to reinvent himself again, this time as a co-crew chief on Shawn Langdon’s Funny Car. He joins Nicky Boninfante, a good friend, and gets the chance to work with another former champion in Langdon. Worsham calls it a perfect situation because he gets to go back to an organization he loves and work with people he already knows and cares about.
“It was all based on this specific team because I still could have stayed and raced with my dad if I had wanted to,” said Worsham. “It’s like I told Nicky, Shawn is a championship driver and not that I don’t want new kids to get a chance, but I’m definitely not in a position where I want to go through a learning phase right now. So, he had a lot to do with it, Nicky had a lot to do with it and Chad Head had a major, major role in it. We’re really good friends and that was a big part of why I’m here.”
He discussed the decision with his dad, who was on board with his son moving in a new direction. The toll of two years on the road in addition to the struggle of putting together sponsorships played a role.
“I spoke to him about it a lot and I think he was relieved,” said Worsham. “He didn’t want to put forth the effort that we did last year because we really worked hard. We made it work, but it was very very hard, and I think at his age and at this point in our careers, neither one of us wanted to do that again.”
Chuck will still run a handful of races with the family Top Fueler, which is all he wants to do at a “hard 70” as Del describes him with a laugh. “A lot of that has to do with me, I think I put 50 hard years on him.”
Worsham won’t exactly take on a mentorship role with Langdon – the driver has a world championship in multiple categories for goodness sakes. But the extra set of eyes and the addition of Worsham’s wisdom as a Funny Car driver will almost certainly pay dividends for both of Kalitta Motorsports’ Funny Car racers.
“I give him my experience as a driver and hopefully if he’s having problems as a driver, he can come to me and I can make those necessary changes for him,” said Worsham, who had nothing but good things to say about Langdon.
“I see people out here, like I was just telling Shawn after looking at his reaction time and he cut a .050, ‘I’m not that kind of machine, man,” he said. “Hopefully when I need to cut it at the right time, I can do it, but man I can’t do it day in and day out like J.R., Robert and Shawn can. They live for cutting lights whereas maybe I’m more interested in how much blower a car needs.”
Worsham the tinkerer will have all the time to adjust clutches, blower, and pistons over the 2019 season. We’ll eagerly await how he reinvents himself next.