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Tue, 27 Sep 2005, 03:37 PM

Worsham will Get His Kicks, Literally, at Route 66
Courtesy of Bob Wilber

Pro Soccer Stars to Visit Team CSK Pit Area at Ameriquest Mortgage Nationals

ORANGE, Calif. -- Over the years, more than a few press releases and newspaper reports have included references in which NHRA drivers are said to be "getting their kicks" at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, alluding to the popular 1940's ode to America's most historic highway. Del Worsham and his Checker, Schuck's, Kragen Funny Car team will absolutely be getting their kicks as the NHRA POWERade tour visits Route 66 this weekend, but the ones they'll be getting on Saturday will be much more of a literal variety.

Worsham and his team will host members of the Chicago Storm professional indoor soccer team at the Ameriquest Mortgage Nationals on Saturday in Joliet, welcoming Head Coach Frank Klopas, Chief Operating Officer Brian Loftin, Assistant Coach David Vaudreuil, and current Storm player Novi Marojevic. The Storm is a second-year franchise in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) and will kick off their 2005/2006 season on Sunday November 6th at their home arena, the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

Klopas, a Chicago soccer legend, is a former indoor and outdoor star who has 40 US National Team appearances to his credit, during which he scored 12 goals for the USA. Loftin and Vaudreuil are also former stars of the indoor game, while Marojevic, known simply as "Novi" on the field, scored 29 goals in 39 games for the Storm last season.

"We always enjoy introducing NHRA POWERade drag racing to athletes from different sports, so we're really looking forward to meeting the guys from the Storm and letting them get a taste of what drag racing is all about," Worsham said. "We've had NBA, NFL, and Major League Baseball players in our pit before, including Hall Of Famer Robin Yount, so adding a guy like Frank Klopas, his staff, and a top professional soccer player to the list will be great. I know the indoor game is all about high speed and wall-to-wall action, but I bet these guys have never seen anything as high speed as a Funny Car.

"Hopefully they'll bring a ball along with them, and we'll get a chance to kick it around before we race. Most of us played a little soccer as kids, and (CSK blue team co-crew chief) Marc Denner played a lot. He grew up as a soccer kid in Wichita, and I believe he played with a guy who went on to a career in the MISL."

Denner did, indeed, grow up playing soccer and watching the Wichita Wings of the MISL during the 1980's, and as referenced by Worsham was a youth soccer teammate of Braeden Cloutier, who starred in the MISL for many years. That's not the only Team CSK connection to the sport, as Team Manager Bob Wilber was previously the General Manager of the Kansas City Attack of what was then the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL,) a predecessor to today's MISL. Chicago Storm COO Loftin was a star player on that Kansas City team.

Worsham has never seen an indoor soccer game in person, but has heard many stories from both Denner and Wilber.

"Marc and Bob make it sound pretty cool, so if I ever get a chance to see a game I'll jump at it," Worsham said. "They play in the winter, when we're not racing, so it hasn't ever lined up where I'm in a MISL town when a game is going on. Hopefully, someday, we can make that happen. In the meantime, it's going to be great to have these guys with us for a day. I hope they enjoy their time at Route 66, and I hope our great NHRA fans will come over to meet these guys and make them feel welcome."

The Storm representatives will be available for autographs in the Team CSK pit area on Saturday, October 1st, prior to the first professional qualifying session.

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