Del Worsham knew from a young age; his life would be intertwined within the very thread of drag racing. He was only seven years old when sitting in the passenger seat of his dad Chuck’s 1962 Corvette, Worsham became a bonafide co-pilot; working the stick on runs at the old Orange County International Raceway as his dad would push in the clutch.
OCIR starter Larry Sutton put an end to the practice, as he noticed the second-generation Worsham, although belted in the car, was only wearing a football helmet.
Fast forward to 17 years later, it was the same kid, who after only having driven the tow vehicles, climbed behind the wheel of his dad’s fuel-burning Funny Car to attain his license. Before this, the ill-advised trips in the Corvette and a BMX bicycle were Worsham’s only racing experience.
In fact, Worsham admits he could count on one hand the times he drove the tow vehicle over 80-miles per hour.
Worsham and the race car became an inseparable combination with two NHRA championships as confirmation. There was a time when Worsham couldn’t see himself behind the wheel of a race car.
Somewhat older, more drag racing business savvy, Worsham doesn’t mind what role he plays, as long as he’s at the drag strip.
“After 2011 when I decided to go with Kalitta’s and Alexis DeJoria, and come over and do that, I was good with my decision then,” Worsham admitted. “Then things change, and we know life changes. I went back driving again. Pomona was a fun weekend. Even though I wasn’t driving, it was fun to come out here and work with my old friends again and be a part of the Kalitta team again.”
Worsham spent a good measure of his time working with the Global Technology-sponsored Funny car, driven by Shawn Langdon, working in an advisory role. Additionally, Worsham spent a good portion of his time focused on two nitro cars fielded by his family.
“If you had asked me this ten years ago If I would have been happy with this role, I would have said absolutely not,” Worsham said.
Maybe Worsham was too occupied with the tasks at hand to realize, and he wasn’t behind the wheel at all.
“There was so much going on it wouldn’t have been able to take on the amount of tasks was doing if I was driving,” Worsham explained. “There’s no way. With how competitive all classes are in NHRA right now, I think Tim Wilkerson does a good job, but it’s extremely difficult to go from one mode to the other and do a really good job at both.”
During Pomona, Worsham was just an extra set of eyes for a championship-proven duo of Nicky Boninfante and Kurt Elliot.
“Just kind of trying to fit in and help them out and if I saw something that I thought would help or hurt, just tried to make the Global car an even better, faster car,” Worsham said.
Getting close to 50-years old, weekends like the one he pulled off in Pomona, almost four decades of working in the sport, Worsham admits he feels it on Mondays.
“I do, man,” Worsham said with a smile. “I have to wear knee braces, and I think the years of BMX and racing is starting to take a toll. I definitely know that I’ve worked, especially this year, I work harder this year physically than I have maybe ever racing. My body’s feeling it and my mind is feeling it. The offseason is always welcomed.”
Fatigue be damned, don’t misunderstand Worsham, he still loves the thrill and challenge of driving.
“I still love racing on Sundays, don’t get me wrong – I’ve just learned to appreciate the mechanical output,” Worsham declared. “Everybody loves to be up there trying to cut a reaction time and trying to win races, but everyone wants to drive a competitive car also. You don’t want to be just out there joy riding or just putting in time. Right now in my career, I would say that I’m content with either role.”