Handling a 6,000 horsepower, nitro-burning Pontiac Firebird that goes
from 0-100 mph quicker than a blink of an eye and can cover a quarter-mile
distance in 4.8-seconds is quite a responsibility for 32-year-old Funny
Car driver Del Worsham.
Add that to the fact that Worsham is considered one of the top
contenders to dethrone 11-time NHRA POWERade champion John Force, whom
Worsham met in the final round of the first two events of 2002, and the
pressure becomes greater. Now add newborn twin daughters to the mix and
everything takes on more meaning. Worsham will try to continue his
impressive early-season performance when he competes in the third annual
NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 4-7, at The Strip at Las Vegas
Motor Speedway. The $1.9 million race is the fourth of 23 events in the
$50 million NHRA POWERade Drag racing Series.
After a runner-up finish to
Force at the season-opener, Worsham had troubles making the 16-car order
at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, a race funded by the title
sponsor for his Pontiac Firebird. A final qualifying effort posted numbers
that earned him the No. 10 spot entering eliminations. Despite the
qualifying setbacks, Worsham went out and scored three exciting round wins
before lining up against Force in the final round. At the following event
in Gainesville, Fla., Worsham wasn't as fortunate. Worsham found himself
in the same position as Phoenix in the final qualifying session and this
time he didn't convert. Lucky for him, however, his points position wasn't
jeopardized too much as Force lost in the first round.
youngest veteran on the circuit, and entering his 12th year of
professional competition, Worsham and the rest of the Funny Car field have
one objective: stop Force. "I expect to make a run for the
championship," said Worsham, from Chino Hills, Calif. "We all
feel we're capable of being a tough team the whole year, but I don't think
any of us feel the pressure to dethrone the King (Force). As a driver, I
don't feel any pressure yet either. Now, if some day we get to the final
race, the final round, and have a chance to win the POWERade championship,
maybe then we'll feel a little tight, but I'm willing to give it a shot to
find out how it feels."
Following his win in Arizona, Worsham's wife,
Connie, gave birth to twin girls, Katelyn and Madelyn, and in no time at
all the Worsham household occupancy doubled. "I keep trying to come
up with the words to describe what the birth of our twin little girls has
been like, but I'm not doing a very good job of it," said Worsham, a
first-time father. "You can prepare all you want, but the truth is
one minute you're just a husband, the next minute you're a husband and
dad. From that moment forward, everything changes and you just have to
After purchasing a motor home to get from event to event, the
Worsham family is targeting mid-August as the beginning of the road trip
with the kids. "That will be home away from home for Connie and the
girls," said Worsham. "You know, growing up at the race track
must seem like a really bizarre lifestyle to so many people, but not to
people like us. It's where I grew up, and so many other racers continue to
pass this lifestyle along to their kids. It's not a bad way to grow up.
It's a very close community." And for the first time in his career,
Worsham feels like his team what it takes to be on top in his tight-night
Funny Car community.
"The day Rob came to work for us, the car started running
better," said Worsham. "This is the first year since the early
'90s where we are going into the season with a car that I am sure can win.
I've always thought that we had a car that could win, but there have been
times when we knew we didn't have a car that could perform to the levels
of John Force. This year it does."