If you have been reading my blogs, you know that things were pretty crazy leading up to the first race of the season. For two weeks straight, the guys worked night and day getting things ready to go. Without their long hours, and the help I got from several of my friends, we would have never been ready for Pomona.
I know that I have great people in my life, and the time that they sacrificed to help get the team on the road reminded me how blessed I am. When your friends get off work, come to the shop until 11 at night, and also spend their weekend there, expecting nothing in return, you know you have great friends. Thank you to everyone who helped out. You know who you are. There are too many people to list and I don’t want to leave anyone out, but just know i am grateful for everything.
I also want to give a special shoutout to Mark from Flatout Gaskets, and Scott and Brian from Allstar Performance. Both Flatout Gaskets and Allstar Performance help me out tremendously with product throughout the race season, and our sponsorship agreements don’t include them giving their personal time to help the race team out. So thank you guys not only for your amazing products, but also for giving your time.
We had originally planned on testing on the way to Pomona, but things changed when we realized we wouldn’t be ready. It didn’t make sense to rush to test, so instead we took our time to make sure that we were prepared. We had no data going into Pomona, but did have one mission, and that was to qualify. We weren’t concerned with being the fastest car on the track, we just wanted to get down the track. Q1 was a planned shut off, q2 we ran a 3.99 and Q3 we ran a 3.89 securing the 14th position. Once again I was blessed with people helping the team. We have some crew new to Top Fuel and I can’t thank Jeff Diehl, Jason Cato, Bob Knudson, and Brian Robbins for coming in to help train and assist. Sure it was crazy in our pit with a new team trying to gel, but I am very proud of my guys.
It feels really good going into Phoenix and being able to say that our “mission was accomplished”...we qualified! I can’t wait to get back in the car. We need as much data as we can get so that we can start running consistently in the low 80s high 70s. I am going to make this a short blog. I am in Portland visiting my son, Brian, and I want to get back to spending time with him. You can always follow me in between blogs by looking for Terry McMillen Racing on Facebook and Instagram or follow @terrymcmillen on Twitter.
It’s hard to believe that 2 weeks from today, the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello season starts. I know I say every year that the off season has been crazy, but I truly didn’t understand what the word “crazy” meant until this year. If making changes wasn’t enough, we first had to remove everything out of both race trailers, not only to conduct an inventory, but because I was trading in one of my trailers for a new (to me, not brand new) trailer. Inventory took a while to do. I now know what we have down to every last nut and bolt. This was nice because it gave Rob Wendland, my new crew chief, an idea on what we would need to order for the upcoming season. In the meantime, Rob was also working on hiring a crew. There will be one familiar face on the team this year: Ben Lacher, who previously was our UNOH intern. Ben graduated in November and is now working full time. Other than Ben, we have an entire new crew, so getting them up to speed on what needed to be done took some time. Some of our guys are new to the sport, others have been involved for a while. Whether a veteran or newbie, they are all hard workers and have been putting their heart and souls into getting things ready to go.
Rob is extremely organized, and as the guys started loading the new trailers, he made sure that every part and piece has a place. Check out the pictures of my Genius Tools and Aeroquip fittings all organized in their drawer. Everything has a place and I love that.
Rob has also spent a lot of time going through every single piece and part that we use on the car. I have never switched crew chiefs, but I heard that when you hire a new crew chief, they will make you switch all your parts and pieces to parts and pieces that they are used to working with. It costs a lot of money to switch parts like that, and fortunately Rob is doing an amazing job working with the parts and pieces we already have. Obviously as he does a thorough inspection of everything he is finding stuff that we need to replace, but it isn’t because he wants to switch just to switch, it is because the part is not in a condition that we should be running it.
We are officially down to crunch time. The plan is for the guys to leave the shop one week from today. Unless something comes up, we will be stopping in Las Vegas to test on the way to Pomona. There is so much to do this week, and I have a feeling there will be a lot of long days and very short nights, but I know it will be worth it in the end.
I am going to keep this short, as I have to go back to work. Before I go, I need to give a special shout out to my crew chief Rob and his wife, Ashley, who just announced they are expecting a baby this July. As you know I have a little one, and I joke about our pit being the most baby-friendly pit at the track. Just another reason that Rob was a perfect match for our team. If you want to follow the team and our progress next week as we bust our behinds to get things ready to go, Like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.
At the conclusion of the 2014 race season, I decided it was time to make some changes. My first four years driving full time in the NHRA Mello Yello series were like riding a roller coaster. There were ups and there were downs, and as much fun as I think roller coasters are, there comes a point when it is time for a new ride. After much thought and consideration, I decided it was time to restructure Terry McMillen Racing. It was a very hard decision. Hardest one I have made in a long time, and scary I might add. Raise your hand if you like change, when you have no idea how the change will affect you! I didn’t know who would tune the car, what crew I would have, where my shop would be. I just knew it was time for change. So I said a prayer and went with my gut.
Over the past month, things have begun to settle into place. I hired Rob Wendland as my crew chief. This is the first time I will have had a full time crew chief, and I think that is going to help us tremendously. The race shop is now back home with me in Elkhart, IN. I was able to find a building to house the race operation. I didn’t realize how much I missed working in the shop, and have literally been there night and day trying to prepare for the season.
I can’t believe we will be in Pomona in less than a month. I am really excited for this season to begin. We are not going to come out of the box trying to rotate the earth, but I think you will see a steady improvement as the season progresses.
As far as other beginnings in 2015, I got engaged to Cori, my son Cameron’s mom in November. Don’t ask me details of the wedding, b/c I told her to plan it and tell me when to show up, but I think it is going to be in the fall one weekend between races.
I want to thank everyone who has continued to support me as I go through these changes. It definitely helps make things easier. Stay tuned for more blogs this season. I think I will be in the position to write more. In the meantime look me up on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to see what is taking place at the shop!
After taking way too much time away from the world of NHRA blogging, I am back and ready to start blogging again. I have had a very busy few months adjusting to having a little one around again, but now that we have a pretty solid routine, I am able to squeeze a few minutes in every couple of weeks to fill everyone in on what I have been up to. Before I get to all of that, I promised Cori I would mention the baby contest that she entered Cameron in, and ask for you all to vote if you have a chance. Basically if he gets enough votes to come into first place this week, he will move on to the final round in which he will compete once more against 11 others to win a trip to New York for a photo shoot and a chance to be on the cover of Parents magazine. He is currently 29th. You can vote once per day and the last day is Sunday. You can also share with your social media friends. Here is the link to his picture, and we really appreciate anyone who votes: http://www.parents.com/photos/parents-cover-contest-2014/2014-06-16/13d98
Even though NHRA officially changed the Jr. Dragster age to 5, I couldn’t wait that long to get involved in that class. My son Andy’s step daughter, Adalyn, decided she wanted to race, and I feel fortunate that I was able to help make that happen. The weekend after Englishtown, we went to my local drag strip, Osceola Dragway, and she made all the passes required to get her Jr. license. She did a great job, and I am looking forward to seeing her race. If she wants to follow in the footsteps of former Jr. drivers that are now pro drivers, I know she will be able to do it. She definitely has the personality, and in the few runs that she made to get licensed, I can tell she is going to be a great driver.
Of course I can’t end my blog without mentioning a little about what is going on with the race team. It is no secret that we have had some struggles this season. Our team is not quite set up like the majority of teams. We don’t have two crew chiefs. We don’t have all full time people, heck, my crew chief isn’t even full time LOL. What we do have hard working guys, who are dedicated and are willing to do whatever it takes to bring a little more consistency to our car. I recently hired Lance Larsen. He has helped tremendously with our maintenance program. Stability in that area will help Richard. We have already had two round wins since Lance came on board, and I am looking forward to more. We are taking baby steps, but I have no doubt that they are at least headed in the right direction.
I better get going for now. It is getting late and I have some qualifying to do tomorrow. If you want to keep up with me in between blogs, you can follow me on Twitter @terrymcmillen or look for Terry McMillen Racing on Instagram and Facebook. Take care and talk to you soon!