CHAD HEAD ENJOYING NEXT CHAPTER OF RACING LIFE
From the time second-generation drag racer Chad Head climbed behind the wheel of a nitro-burning fuel Funny Car, he fell in love with the exhilaration of stomping the throttle and holding on for 1,000-feet of pure mayhem. It was all good, from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.
Head has settled into a different role which doesn't always required suiting up in a firesuit, and he's okay with the transition. He's just excited to be part of what he considers the greatest sport in the world.
"I miss the driving; driving is a huge challenge, and we all like challenges," Head admitted. "I do miss driving; there’s no question about it. I’m very fortunate to be able to have had that opportunity, so I have no ill feelings not being able to drive, but the challenge of driving was, it was very hard. I liked the challenge; I like the competition, it was fun. But I’m just happy to be able to race with a great group of people here with Kalitta Motorsports, working for Jim O [Oberhofer] and Connie and everybody here. I enjoy working with all the crew chiefs, working with all the drivers. It’s a good place to be."
Head, whose business card at Kalitta Motorsports describes him as the Director of Safety, is now in a race team administrative role, a position with which he's had experience. Before he took over the driving duties for the Head Inc., Toyota Funny Car campaigned by his father Jim Head; he served as a General Manager for the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi-sponsored team.
Head smiles when he describes his day-to-day role for the team based in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
"I'm to look pretty, make hot dogs and make sandwiches," head said with a smile, before embarking on his trademark serious look. "Just to assist Jim O. with the day to day operations of the team; help communication with the crew chiefs, help communication with the drivers, try to make sure things go as smooth as I can with five teams. A lot going on here, but mainly I work directly for Jim O. and try just to keep things moving forward."
Head sees the parallels in positions, separated by three years.
"I worked obviously right directly for Alan and same thing, it’s just over there ... there were two teams, and over here there’s five teams, so there’s a lot going on here, and I’m just fortunate to be able to be part of it and be able to come to the races and go racing with them," head added.
Head, as he was as a driver, maintains a modest approach to grading himself on his job performance. He said he grades out this year in his new role at a C+, or B- on a more generous grading scale.
A C+, or a better B- doesn't always equate to job security.
"That’s right, I need to do a little bit better job, that’s for sure," Head said with a smile. "Just getting to know everybody. Again, five teams, a lot of people, a lot of different people’s egos, attitudes, it’s just you’ve got to get to know everybody. I know these guys obviously on a friendship level, but working with somebody versus being friends with somebody is different, so you just need to know, just kind of get in the rhythm with everybody. That first race that I started with them was in Vegas in the spring, and so I’m always going to be hard on myself and always say I can do a better job."
But don't think for a moment Head isn't willing to push the pen and notepad aside, for the firesuit and helmet should Kalitta need a substitute. After all, Head showed his resiliency last season when the coach put him in the lineup as a fill-in for Alexis DeJoria.
"My motto here is I want to do what’s best for Kalitta Motorsports," Head said. "If there’s an opportunity to drive, great. If there isn’t and there’s somebody else that makes sense, then that’s, I’ll be their biggest cheerleader. So I want what’s right for the company and right now what’s right for the company is for me to do what I’m doing. Someday if it becomes something else, then I’ll be there to do it."
Until then, Head confirmed, he'a content living vicariously through the success of others, and doing what he can to make it happen.