Four-wide madnessFriday, April 13, 2012
Posted by: Brady Kalivoda, Warrior Racing
Sorta cute pic: Me, long ago, wearing my dad's helmet
Cutest pic ever: My son Brooks, not so long ago, checking out my helmet.

Here it is, the first of many (I hope) blog entries chronicling my life and times as driver of the Warrior Racing Top Fuel Dragster. Who am I, you ask? That’s easy … it’s me, Brady Kalivoda. You know the guy … second generation driver from Seattle? Son of legendary Top Fuel driver Dick Kalivoda? Spirit of a warrior and heart of an angel? Future NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel champion?

Kidding. My Dad wasn’t really a legend. He was indeed a baaaad man on drag strips in the Northwest in his day, however. Although he retired from driving before I was born, my love of the sport comes from him (see sort’ cute pic); he’s the real reason I’m doing this today. He’s taught me a lot as a driver and as a father (now that I have a son of my own -- see cutest pic ever), and I’m thankful to have him as my number one fan. Oh, and as for the “legend” part, my Dad’s a pretty humble guy and gets a kick (and a little bit embarrassed) whenever somebody says that about him. (Thank you Bob Frey.)

Now that you know who I am, I’ll get you up to speed on the team as we head into Charlotte for the Four-Wide Nationals this weekend at zMAX Dragway. Speaking of the “Bellagio of Drag Strips,” it really is just that … first class all the way. Until this morning, it was the only track on the NHRA Full Throttle tour that I’d yet to see in person, as I’ve been inactive the past four seasons since Bruton Smith built this amazing place. Inactive, that is, until Mike and Chris Dakin gave me a call last summer as they and Crew Chief Bob Peck were finishing putting their new team together. Can’t thank them all enough for this opportunity, by the way. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love, and I can’t wait to be able to repay them someday. Hopefully soon. With Wally’s. Lots of them. (They said they’d accept Wally’s for payment, and there’s plenty of room for them at the Warrior Racing shop in Tipp City, Ohio, so I’m going with that.) Aside from housing the Top Fuel Dragster and team transporter between races, Warrior Racing is a full service auto, truck and motorcycle performance shop specializing in tuning, suspension, and custom wheels. They also carry a full complement of Red Line Oil products as well as all the latest gear from Oakley. Check it out online at www.warriorracing.com.

Good morning, zMax!

Umm, back to zMAX Dragway. Man, I’ve seen the pictures and watched the past years’ events on ESPN, but justice cannot be served until you see this place in person. Just an incredible facility. If you haven’t been here, then get here. Either for the Four-Wide Nationals or the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals in the fall. I’m blown away by the place, and it’s only Thursday! I can’t wait to be here tomorrow with the grandstands and pit area packed and four – count ‘em FOUR – fuel cars on the track at once! It’s gonna be madness! But the kind of madness we drag racing fans love. (And I’m a fan first and foremost.)

This will be the second of 15 or so events we plan to hit this season with the Warrior Racing team. Our first race was Gainesville, where we qualified 16th and then lost a heartbreaker in round one to Morgan Lucas. I say heartbreaker because he experienced a rare mishap in his lane with his parachute coming out early, and we just weren’t able to take advantage of it. We smoked the tires at the step, and our day was done. From there, Morgan went on to run three straight 3.74’s and win the race.

In the weeks since Gainesville, our crew chief Bob Peck has spent countless hours trying to figure out why our hot rod did what it did in round one. The short story is that he was able to find a few things in the fuel system that have since been remedied. Bob’s a pretty sharp guy. This is his first year as a Crew Chief but he’s been out here for years and worked in just about every capacity on these cars. If anybody’s more excited than me about this weekend (and I’m not sure that’s possible), it’s him. He’s getting a chance to live his dream just like I am. It’s a cool deal.

Bob, Edge, Shanon and Dave unloading the car this morning

The rest of the Warrior Racing “posse” consists of Rick Johnson (yes, THE Rick Johnson), Jeff Edwards (affectionately known as “the Edge”), Shanon Smith (we just call him Shanon), David Baumaster, Alec Johnson, and John Macrander. These guys are awesome. They are a fun group to be around and they work freakishly hard, as these cars demand it. Oh, and then there’s Chef Mike, who always makes sure we eat well while we’re at the track. Eating well is a bit of an understatement, actually. I’m not sure people are supposed to eat this good while at the drags, but it’s something Mike Dakin feels pretty strongly about, so he brings in Chef Mike to take care of us.

The Mikes will be rolling in today as we finish getting the pit area set up, teching the car in and getting set for the weekend’s activities to kick off tomorrow. One key member of the organization that will be sorely missed this weekend is Chris Dakin. He wears a lot of hats, but his official title is Director of Entertainment. Not sure I know how to act without him around. I mean, he’s like the Cal Naughton, Jr. to my Ricky Bobby (and if that doesn’t make sense to you, stop what you’re doing and watch Talladega Nights right now). It’s going to be strange without him, but he’s tending to more important matters right now as his two year-old daughter Marin is recovering from a tonsillectomy performed just last week. It’s a big deal to go through for such a little person. It’s not just a matter of her “taking it easy” for a while afterwards; there is a significant amount of risk that remains, especially because she’s so young.

So we’ll miss Chris and will be keeping little Marin in our thoughts this weekend. I’ll be keeping him posted via text and phone as soon as possible after every run. If you’re on Twitter, follow us (@BradyKalivoda and @Warrior_Racing) or find us on facebook and we’ll keep you posted as well. If you’re at zMAX this weekend, be sure to stop by and see us. It’s gonna be fun! Times four!