BROWNSBURG, Ind. - Veteran NHRA driver Del Worsham earned his Top Fuel license during pre-season testing in Florida last week, it was announced today. After a 20-year career driving NHRA Funny Cars, Worsham will pilot a second Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster in 2011 joining 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon in the dragster division.
Worsham satisfied NHRA requirements for obtaining a Top Fuel license during pre-season testing at Palm Beach International Raceway. NHRA requires a driver to make one pass to half track and two full passes in order to secure a license. Worsham's passes of 3.820 and 3.786 seconds satisfied NHRA requirements. Worsham competed in 22 races as a Top Fuel driver between 1993 and '95.
"It was unreal; Top Fuel cars have changed a lot since I last drove them," Worsham said. "It accelerates very hard. The sensation of speed is so great in a Top Fuel car, and I didn't remember that. You can just really feel the power and how fast you're going. Dragsters are faster than Funny Cars by nature, but sitting so low, you can see things going by which gives you a reference of how fast you’re actually going; Funny Cars don’t give you that at all.
"It's something new, and it's fun going fast and driving something different. As of right now, I don't know which I like better, but Top Fuel is exciting. In the dragster, it's almost like someone is behind you and pushing you; in the Funny Car, it feels like you're being pulled. It's completely different."
While last week’s pre-season test session allowed Worsham to earn his Top Fuel license and Dixon to begin preparations for defending his title, it also marked the official beginning of the relationship between the Al-Anabi Racing team and Stand 21 Racewear. Starting this year, Stand 21 will provide firesuits, helmets, shoes, gloves and undergarments for Dixon and Worsham, and last week’s test was the first time the drivers used their new safety equipment.
"Everything was custom made for me so the firesuit fits like a custom-tailored suit," Dixon said. "But it's better than a custom-fitted suit because you can catch on fire and still be OK. The Helmet is FIA approved (The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile is the governing body for world motor sport and the federation of the world's leading motoring organizations.) which goes above and beyond the standard NHRA helmet, and I feel it's the best helmet on the market. That's why we’re wearing it. I thank Al-Anabi Racing and Stand 21 for investing the time and resources to see that we are in what we feel are the safest products on the market."
Stand 21 founder and president Yves Morizot, United States market advisor Abder Amokrane and research and development manager Gerald Bonnett have worked closely with the Al-Anabi Racing Team to gather all possible information to develop safety equipment specifically conceived for Top Fuel dragster racing.
Stand 21 first met with Dixon and Worsham more than three years ago, but their work got more serious last summer when they attended the 2010 Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in Denver, Colo. Morizet, Amokrane and Bonnett also attended the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis last September. There, Al-Anabi Racing and Stand 21 began working closely together to continue their safety development program for Top Fuel dragsters. They were committed to creating new products especially for Top Fuel rather than modifying an existing product.
"Our main concern is the highest safety equipment available to the racers," Amokrane said. "Consequently, we have a duty to innovate constantly, and we are constantly vigilant in gathering feedback from racers to identify risks and engineer adequate protection."
At the NHRA Auto Club Finals in Pomona, Calif. last November, Stand 21 arrived with a prototype helmet which was 90 percent ready. After testing the helmet, some adjustments were made and the firesuit and helmet made their debuts last week at the West Palm Beach, Fla. test session.
"Stand 21 has definitely lived up to our expectations so far," Worsham said. "The suit is extremely comfortable with great mobility. I expect it will also stand up to the safety standards we expect, but we hope not to test that part of it. Everything they told us has been 100 percent accurate. The helmet provides great vision; I feel very safe in it. The stand 21 team has been great to work with so far; we are happy be to be using their products and look forward to building our relationship with them."
"As race teams and drivers, it’s our responsibility to ensure we are as safe as possible, and I don't know why every other driver wouldn't want to do the same. We go so much quicker and faster than any other motorsport; when we crash, we're going 320 mph, and we require a helmet that will protect us from the worst impacts imaginable."
Al-Anabi Racing operates out of multiple locations in both the United States and Qatar. In the United States, the Brownsburg, Ind.-based operation is a two-car NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series team that is managed by Alan Johnson Racing. At the forefront of this team is His Highness Sheik Khalid Al Thani’s goal to promote the domestic and international awareness of Motorsports in the nation of Qatar. Alan Johnson is a 13-time NHRA champion in various capacities including crew chief, team owner and team manager. For additional information on the Al-Anabi Racing Team, team manager Alan Johnson or drivers Larry Dixon and Del Worsham, please visit www.alanabiracing.com.