Kalitta, a two-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel champion and one of only 14 drivers in NHRA history to earn victories in both premier nitro categories, earned 18 victories during his career, his last coming in Chicago in 2005 in Top Fuel.
Kalitta earned most of his racing success in Top Fuel, where he claimed back-to-back world championship titles in 1994 and 1995. He retired from racing in 1997, sitting out most of two seasons before returning for a 10-race campaign in 1999. He sat out three more seasons following that brief stint and then returned again in 2003, joining cousin Doug as a second driver for the family's two Top Fuel dragsters.
Kalitta started his pro career in Top Fuel in 1982, running limited events for four seasons before moving to Funny Car in 1986 for his first full season of competition. He returned to that category full time in 2006. He posted a runner-up finish two weeks ago in Chicago, his 36th career NHRA final-round appearance.
Kalitta is survived by his father, legendary NHRA racer and team owner Connie Kalitta; wife, Kathy; and sons, Corey, 14, and Colin, 8.
Truly sad! :(