My way of life: A local man’s history in cars and drag racing
by Areia Hathcock
Jul 10, 2013 | 1805 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kitts was the man to beat in the 1960s.  Kitts stands in front of his 1964 Ford Thunderbolt was the car to beat at drag strips in northern New England and Quebec.  Kitts set many track records in 1964 and won the Canadian Nationals.  Though it wasn’t his first big award.  In 1961, he won the U.S. Drag Racing Championship and did it without a sponsor.
Kitts was the man to beat in the 1960s. Kitts stands in front of his 1964 Ford Thunderbolt was the car to beat at drag strips in northern New England and Quebec. Kitts set many track records in 1964 and won the Canadian Nationals. Though it wasn’t his first big award. In 1961, he won the U.S. Drag Racing Championship and did it without a sponsor.
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The opening of the Beacon Dragway in southern McCracken County, Ky. is sparking a renewed interest in drag racing in western Kentucky and southern Illinois. The dragway is located next to Paducah International Raceway on Shemwell Lane.

Drag racing has been a life-long passion for some though. Working alongside well-known NASCAR racers Marty Robbins, Rickie Evans and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. was just another day for Al Kitts, who is the service manager at Frank Farmer Chevrolet in Metropolis.

In his own words, it was just his “way of life.”

Kitts was still in high school in 1955 when he took his first job at a local Ford dealership in his hometown of Cooperstown, N.Y. He worked after school and on weekends and had his eye on management with the dealership.

The owner had taken Kitts under his wing and was showing him the ropes of the car business.

Directly after college though, a friend of Kitts’ bought a dealership in Stowe, Va. and asked him to run it for him.

He stayed on for several years before heading back to his native New York. Upon his return, he started drag racing Fords and, in 1961, he notably won the United States Drag Racing Championship without a sponsor.

Drag racing is a competition between two cars that start from a standstill. Most race lengths are one quarter mile long and are a straight course. The first one to cross the finish line is declared the winner.

This accomplishment and success brought recognition for Kitts by the Ford Motor Company (FMC) and soon after he started to work directly for their racing team.

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