As I'm sure you all know by now, Scott Kalitta, son of Drag Racing
legend Connie Kalitta, and a formidable champion in his own right,
was killed in a horrendous top-end crash at Englishtown following an
engine explosion and fire during Funny Car qualifying at the Lucas Oil
Supernationals on June 21, 2008.
Below is one of the finest
tributes to Scott that I've seen, written by someone who was his friend,
Courtesy of Phil Burgess and Todd Myers. First published on
Racing Blog at NHRA.com
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I miss you, Scotty
One of the last conversations I had with Scotty was about our blog.
With that undeniable grin of his on his face, he walked up to me in
Englishtown and said, ďSo, Toddly, whatís up with the blog? Didnít you
make out a schedule at the beginning of season?Ē I said yes and reminded
him that he had dodged his blogging responsibilities as well because his
name is on the schedule. He just continued to grin and told me he would
write something soon.
Iíve been thinking about this entry for a couple of days and still donít
know exactly what to type. I try very hard not to make these blogs about
me, but right now I am being a tad selfish, and Iím not sure how this is
going to come across because Iím still very raw with emotions, and I miss
my friend more and more as each minute passes. I may ramble around in this
and not write like I need to, but please excuse me if I do. My good
friend, Phil Burgess, asked me yesterday when I was going to write a blog
and even gave me some suggestions, but I think Iím just gonna shoot from
the hip here because I know Scotty would appreciate that.
Scotty was a giant to me. We teased him and called him ďstumpyĒ sometimes
because of his stature, but always in my mind he was Superman Ö and he
still is. He was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He told
you how he felt no matter the consequences. He knew what he said may not
be pleasant sometimes for you to hear, but he said it anyway and meant
every word. I admired that most about him. My good friend, Bob Wilber,
once offered me this simple line of advice Ė Say what you mean and mean
what you say. I always think of Scotty when I remind myself of Bobís
words. Bob and I were talking about a Rush concert when Scotty made his
last lap. I remember every second of it. We were standing side-by-side in
the press room in E-town watching the run after we finished our chat about
Rush and Bob was nudging me and saying thatís a good lap and thatíll get
you in. Then, the explosion Ö and I instantly turned to watch the monitor
in the press room and everything since then has been a blur. The images on
the screen will never leave my head. I have been fighting to keep them
away, but Iím not sure if I need to. In a way, I almost need them there to
cope because the last time I saw my friend he was doing what he did best:
driving a race car with all his might.
We are all going through the stages. I have still not passed through
denial and anger. Iím mad as hell that Scotty is dead. I have cussed aloud
at him, God, drag racing, and myself. I know there are a lot of people on
our team who are doing the same thing, but I think we have to do those
things to become stronger. The anger will pass and the denial will, too,
but I still keep watching the pit area waiting for him to come around the
corner of the race rig and wake up from this nightmare, but I know that is
not going to happen and no tribute decal or t-shirt or anything is going
to bring Scotty back to us. I hope someday soon that I can get to a point
of grieving, but Iím not there yet.
Scotty touched so many peoplesí lives. I guess I knew that before he died,
but it was not as apparent to me as it has been in this past week. More
than 5,000 people have sent e-mail condolences and thatís only a fraction
of the calls and text messages and all sorts of things that all of us have
been getting. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for being
there for us when we need you most.
I also want to say thank you to a few people in particular who you all
need to know have been the only way I have been able to get through this
so far. Phil Burgess was the first person I called after we found out that
Scotty passed. He coached me and guided me as a peer but with the care of
a friend, and I will never be able to thank him enough. Dave Densmore and
Elon Werner, the PR powerhouse at John Force Racing, have been rock-solid
brothers to me, offering advice and giving me two big shoulders to cry on
in those first few terrible hours. Thanks guys, love you. My best bud,
Lisa Powers, who you all know from the Herbert camp, has been the best
friend I could have. I havenít leaned on her too much because I have a
hard time letting things go, but she has been there for me with every
phone call and late-night texts. She knows me well enough to not try to
make me let things out right now and for that I am most thankful to her.
Everyone in our little drag racing world has been tremendous, so on behalf
of Kalitta Motorsports, thanks to all of you who have expressed your
condolences and support and prayers. We are truly blessed to know you all.
The world will never be the same without Scott Kalitta. I will cherish
every memory I have of him Ö good and bad. I could keep rambling here for
days, and I may again soon, but for now, Iíve said all I can say.
I miss you, Scotty. You were never just my driver. You were always my
friend. Thank you, bud. I hope you and Eric are having some great match
races up there.