Paul Lee, owner of McLeod Racing, will retire from drag racing after suffering a massive heart attack over the winter. His racing operation, managed by Kalitta Motorsports, will still enter some races this year due to previous sponsor commitments. A driver will be announced at a later date.
Lee’s heart attack took place Dec. 13 of last year, just two days after he returned from Indianapolis for a successful PRI show. The heart attack involved a complete blockage of the left anterior descending artery and the necessary insertion of three stints in the main artery, and left Lee with significant heart damage.
“I’m very lucky to be alive,” Lee said. “The paramedics are close to my house and were there in minutes. They got me to the hospital in time for the doctors to save my life. The doctor told me that this is the worst kind of heart attack someone can have and only about 1 in 10 survives. So I’m extremely grateful to the local paramedics and the doctors for doing a great job of saving me.”
Since he began making unofficial runs in his mother’s car at the age of 17, at his local drag strip, Atco Dragway, Lee has loved NHRA drag racing. He has an impressive record, with wins in both the Top Alcohol and Top Fuel Funny Car categories.
“I’ve dedicated my life to the sport of NHRA Drag Racing,” explains Lee. “It’s been my love and passion since I was a child growing up in New Jersey. It pains me to know that I’ll probably never get to drive again, but in reality, I’m happy to still be here. My heart is too weak and will take years to recover. Besides, as long as I’m on blood thinners (to help a damaged heart work better), it’s not safe for me to drive a 300mph race car.”
Lee’s co-crew chiefs, Glen Huszar and Nick Casertano, will continue aiding the Funny Car teams of J.R. Todd and Alexis DeJoria in Lee’s absence.
“Kalitta Motorsports was devastated to learn about Paul’s heart attack, but thankful that he is still with us,” said Jim Oberhofer, Vice President of Operations, Kalitta Motorsports. “We know how much desire Paul had to compete at the highest level in the sport so we are saddened he will be unable to continue. However, he is and always will be a part of the Kalitta family.”
Lee intends to continue his support of Kalitta Motorsports for the future. He will also continue to own and operate McLeod Racing.
“I’ve made many friends in this sport,” he said, “both in my Alcohol Funny Car days in Division 1, up to my friends in the professional ranks, and especially all the folks at Team Kalitta. I’d like to personally thank Connie Kalitta and Jim Oberhofer and the whole Kalitta organization for welcoming me into their family. I will be forever grateful.”