Commercial relationships in racing are extremely important, especially when they’re useful to making the car work better. That’s why E3 spark plugs sponsors NHRA’s Pro Mod series and why DENSO is so involved with Matt Smith Racing’s Pro Stock Motorcycle team.
For the past year, NGK and Kalitta Motorsports have been working together to produce a spark plug product that will allow its Top Fuel and Funny Car racers to race durably down a 1,000-foot dragstrip without destroying their 11,000-horsepower engines.
During the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, held just two days after the penultimate race of the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Kalitta Motorsports and NGK announced a multi-year, exclusive partnership that will allow them to work together for both racing and marketing purposes.
The seven-time NHRA world championship winning team has Doug Kalitta in contention for his first world championship in the Top Fuel category. In Sunday’s Las Vegas semifinals, Doug Kalitta was racing against reigning titleholder Steve Torrence with an opportunity to retake the lead he had in the first quarter of the 24-race season. A mechanical failure on the burnout scotched that ambition for Kalitta, who now stands third, 55 points behind Torrence, now hounded by Las Vegas winner Brittany Force, a scant 16 points back. There are points-and-a-half on offer in the finale at Pomona.
The Kalitta team will now have a new weapon at their disposal with NGK’s support, having “worked together to develop designs to maximize the performance and durability of a spark plug that can withstand the conditions of a nitro-fueled engine,” a partnership that should assist Doug Kalitta, J.R. Todd, Shawn Langdon and Richie Crampton in their efforts to secure a Top Fuel or Funny Car title.
As this announcement was being made, we learned another company, one which is also in the business of making engines work infinitely better, is departing one of the sport’s teams in 2020. D-A Lubricant Company won’t be returning to sponsor Jordan Vandergriff’s dragster in 2020, the team stated.
Announced at a very late date, when the season finale is just a week away and the next year’s competition begins in about 100 days, the news was “very unexpected,” according to team owner Bob Vandergriff. “We will continue to field a car for Shawn Reed and Josh Hart while we actively pursue sponsorship for Jordan.”
The lubricant company was more than a sponsor in name, lending its products to Vandergriff’s entries to keep them running optimally. Vandergriff did state his nephew will be running the NHRA Finals next week in Pomona.