Al-Anabi Racing, a leading team in the NHRA's premier Full Throttle drag-racing series, said Wednesday that Khalid alBalooshi would drive one of its two top-fuel dragsters next season.
The team is owned by Sheikh Khalid Al Thani, a member of the ruling family of Qatar, and alBalooshi is a native of Dubai who has been racing Al-Anabi dragsters in the NHRA's second-tier series and internationally.
AlBalooshi, 32, won the championship this year in the NHRA's Get Screened America Pro Mod series and in the Arabian Drag Racing League Pro Mod series.
He replaces Del Worsham, who retired after winning the top-fuel championship this season. The team this week also named its other top-fuel driver, Shawn Langdon, who replaces three-time champion Larry Dixon.
"When we started this team, we said that one of our goals was to promote international drag-racing awareness, specifically in the nation of Qatar," team manager Alan Johnson said in a statement. "Now we have a driver who has won a championship in Qatar competing in the NHRA Full Throttle drag-racing series."
The team said alBalooshi, 32, earned his top-fuel license at a test session this week; before that he had never driven a top-fuel dragster, which reaches speeds exceeding 300 mph in less than five seconds on a 1,000-foot drag strip.
The NHRA opens next season with the Winternationals on Feb. 9-12 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Del Worsham in his Al-Anabi Racing top-fuel dragster Nov. 21 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. Credit: Jerry Foss/Associated Press