Litton recently purchased the entire operation of the legendary “U.S. Male” Funny Car operation from Nick Boninfante and plans to run the entire IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series North American Tour in 2014. Litton will retain his Top Fuel operation and will run both cars at select Nitro Jam events as he campaigns primarily for the inaugural IHRA Nitro Funny Car championship this season against a field of world class competitors from across the country.
“I have a long relationship with the Boninfante family and this was just something that worked out well for the both of us. I wanted to continue to run with the IHRA this season and this presented me a great opportunity to do just that while also returning to fulltime competition,” Litton said. “I am really looking forward to running against this great group of racers. All of these cars are past champions, legendary names and I will be the low man on the totem pole, but my goal is to go out there and be competitive and hopefully win a round.”
Originally built in 1971 by Nick Boninfante Sr., the “U.S. Male” Funny Car ran as an alcohol car throughout the 70s before being converted to nitro in 1983. Boninfante continued to campaign the car throughout the 80s before scaling back his operation in 1991 to focus on his growing clutch business.
Boninfante brought the “U.S. Male” name back in the late 2000s with a replica 1977 Mustang before Litton purchased the operation earlier this year.
Upon purchasing the car, one of the first changes made by Litton was to convert the car to a Vega body to help better fit Litton and to keep with the theme of Chevrolet support he and his family have shown during their racing careers.
“We are going to keep the ‘U.S. Male’ name, but we have been refurbishing the car to fit me,” Litton said. “I changed to a Vega body for several reasons. First, I had to change it so I could fit in the car. Second, my very first car was a Vega back in 1972 and my brother Dennis had a Vega Funny Car at one time, so it means a lot to me. Chevrolet is just in my blood. It will be a nice looking ride when we are finished with it.”
While Litton is certainly excited about taking on the new challenge of competing in Nitro Funny Car, he admits that it may take a few passes to get a grasp on a completely different animal than his 10,000 horsepower Top Fuel ride that he has campaigned for the better part of the last decade.
“It has been 20 years since I got my license in Funny Car and that long since I was last behind the wheel. There will be a steep learning curve made even more difficult by the caliber of competition running with the IHRA this year,” Litton said. “But we are prepared for an exciting season. We have gone through the motors, cams, heads, took some weight off of the car, changed the body – just doing everything we can to make this car competitive.”
In addition to bringing his regular Top Fuel crew with him to this new venture, including longtime crew chief Mike Wolfarth, Litton has also brought Nick Boninfante Sr. on as an advisor with the car.
Litton, one of the winningest drivers in IHRA Top Fuel history with multiple championships spanning both the classic IHRA era and the more recent Nitro Jam format, will compete on the entire Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series tour in 2014 as the IHRA returns to traditional qualifying and eliminations for most of its classes, including Nitro Funny Car.
He will also campaign his Top Fuel Dragster at select events, making for a busy year ahead for the savvy veteran.
“We have an exciting year ahead. After so many years running in Top Fuel, this will definitely be a learning curve for the entire team, but we have a great group of guys and I think we will be able to get this car where it needs to be to be competitive with this great group,” Litton said. “We can’t wait to unveil the car in a few weeks and hit the ground running.”
Litton will join a star-studded lineup of Nitro Funny Car competitors this season including three-time and defending NHRA Heritage Series champion Jason Rupert’s “Black Plague,” two-time DRO series champion John Hale’s “Nitro Boss,” the always exciting Mark Sanders’ “Mr. Explosive,” record-setter Tim Boychuk’s “Troy Lee Designs,” Jim Broom’s “Candies & Hughes” driven by Mike Halstead and, returning for a fourth year with the Nitro Jam Series, Mike McIntire’s “McAttack.”
For more information on the 2014 IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series, visit www.nitrojam.com.