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Confident Shawn Langdon, Autodesk Team Apply John Wooden Mantra to NHRA

Legendary college basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Winning breeds winning.” After winning two of the season’s first four races, Shawn Langdon and his Autodesk team enter the fifth race hungry and hoping the comment from the late UCLA coach, who won 885 games in his career, also applies to motorsports. The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Season resumes April 26-28, 2024, at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Langdon joined his teammate, DHL Funny Car driver J.R. Todd, in the winner’s circle at the season-opening race in Gainesville, Fla., last month for the team’s first-ever double victory, and then the 2013 NHRA Top Fuel champion won in Phoenix two weeks later. Flying the Autodesk colors this weekend, the team will look to make it three out of five with what would be Langdon’s third win at zMAX Dragway.

Autodesk is no stranger to Team Kalitta having adorned the sides of either Langdon’s or Doug Kalitta’s Top Fueler once in each of the last three seasons in addition to nearly a decade of partnership with the race team and Kalitta Air. Autodesk solutions help Team Kalitta design and make engine components that create 11,000 horsepower to power Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars.

Kalitta Motorsports manufactures some 2,000 parts and pieces at its CNC, chassis, and Fabrication shop using Autodesk solutions. Add the nearly 1,000 parts designed and produced at the Kalitta Air maintenance facility, and Autodesk has a hand in creating some 3,000 different products manufactured by the two companies.

“We use Autodesk solutions from design to finish, and when you are designing and manufacturing your own parts, it’s really nice having all that in one package,” Team Kalitta CNC shop manager Scott Finnis said. “It makes things way more efficient and simplifies things, especially when we need to make changes, which we do constantly in Motorsports. The Autodesk solutions we use every day and the support we receive help us get even our most challenging jobs done quickly and correctly. Autodesk goes that extra mile for us so we can do the same on and off the track; they make our jobs look easy, and we are fortunate to work with such a great partner.”

With the season’s fast start, Langdon, first-year crew chief Brian Husen and the Autodesk Toyota team are second in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings. It’s certainly a lofty location, but the overwhelming majority of the season remains.

“It’s great to be near the top in points, but where we are in points doesn’t really matter this early in the season,” Langdon said. “We’ll take each race as it comes. We’re making good laps in the car, and Brian (Husen) is four races into his crew chief career. We’re making laps and gaining confidence. I’m regaining confidence in the car. Everything is gelling well and working well. At this point in the season, we just want to make as many good laps as we can and get everything prepared for the Countdown at the end of the year.

“If you have confidence your car is going to go down the track, it gives you more drive to be better for yourself. You don’t want to be the weak link on the team. With the car making great runs, I’m gonna give all I have. Part of making good runs is building confidence in myself as a driver. I’m not worried about how the car will run; I’m not worrying about smoking the tires, shaking the tires or where the car will go on the next run. When I’m confident in the car, I can focus 100 percent on the tree.

“They call zMAX Dragway the ‘Bellagio of Drag Strips’ for a reason. It’s a race track with a beautiful atmosphere and great Motorsports fans. It’s a place where we really enjoy putting on a great show for the fans. The Four-Wides in Las Vegas and Charlotte are a little unique, but we’re ready to get in there and get it done this weekend.”

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This story was originally published on April 23, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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