One of the most successful teams in auto racing, Kalitta Motorsports competes in North America’s National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) at the highest level – the Top Fuel category. Top Fuel dragsters are known as the fastest accelerating vehicles in the world, capable of traveling 330 miles per hour in less than four seconds. Due to the immense power, the cars require a complete rebuild after every single pass on track. The clutch is considered one of the most important components, making Jesse’s role key to the team’s success.
What does your job at Kalitta Motorsports entail?
I work at the Kalitta shop building clutch packs for the forthcoming races. But I also try to involve myself in learning all aspects of the cars. When the car comes into the pit, it is inspected for any cracks or faults, and parts are replaced with refurbished ones to ensure the next run is identical to the previous one. My goal is to one day be crew chief or assistant crew chief, which may take up to 30 years of experience.
“My goal is to one day be crew chief or assistant crew chief, which may take up to 30 years of experience.”
How did you get into the profession/what inspired you?
A family friend worked in a speed shop and when I was seven years old, I would go in there and tinker with wrenches or work on cars and motors. He was honestly my biggest mentor and was always watching drag racing on TV. I grew to be passionate about cars as well. I contacted Kalitta Motorsports and after graduating, was invited to attend some races. There, I would wash parts and help out as much as possible and was eventually offered a job.
I’m sad to say that my mentor passed away two years ago, but I can truly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. I am very grateful.
What’s one misperception that people have about your job?
I would say the biggest misperception from fans is that this job is all about “fame and fortune,” when in reality the job entails enormous amounts of hard work, dedication and long hours. Fans look at the pit crew on TV, but they don’t see what we do back in the shop. There are times I’ve stayed up until three in the morning building a race car for the next day.
Why are you #MakerProud?
I would never have guessed in a million years that I would be here. I don’t look at myself as being proud – I want other people to be proud of me. All I want to do is the best job I can and move up in the sport. MAC Tools and Stanley Black & Decker are just unbelievable people to be involved with, and I would never have guessed I would be spotlighted for what I do.