It is hard to believe that we are already about a quarter of the way through the season. Things for our team are slowly but surely coming together. I have high hopes for the remainder of the season, as I have seen my team continue to grow with every race. Sure we have had some growing pains, but that is expected, especially when half of the guys are new to Top Fuel racing. I do, however, have all the confidence in the world that they are going to get the Amalie Motor Oil Instigator some round wins soon. A lot of fans were asking about the new crew guys, so we started introducing them in Charlotte. If you follow my social media, you may have seen some of the posts, if not you can search #tmrcrew for all crew related posts.
Since my last blog, we added a new addition to the family. Her name is Sammy, short for Samantha, and she is a 12-week- old German Shepherd. Back in February when I was visiting my son Brian in Portland, his friend had a German Shepherd that was amazing with my son Cameron. Since Cameron has a huge love for animals, and I have always had and loved German Shepherds, I thought it was a good time to get another one. She is a pretty good puppy. Knock on wood, but she hasn’t chewed anything of ours up yet, and she is almost 100% house trained. I am not sure if Cameron would rather play with Sammy or play in her crate, but either way, he is loving having the new puppy around, and she is settling into her role as Cameron’s companion quite nicely. You would be amazed at how gentle she is with him and him only.
Well I will be heading to Houston in a couple days. I am looking forward to what the weekend has in store. We earned our first bonus point by being the third quickest car on Saturday in Vegas when it was hot, and it looks like Houston will be hot as well. Hopefully we can collect some more bonus points, and of course a round win would be nice. Anything can happen, and there is still enough time in the season to inch our way into the top ten.
When I get home from Houston I will be spending most of my time getting ready for the open house that we are having on May 9 at the race shop. Everyone is invited, so if you happen to live near Elkhart, Indiana, you will have to stop by, check out the shop, my dragster, and the other cars that will be on display including my buddy Scott Whalstrom’s Hot Wheels Mustang. We will also have hot dogs, hamburgers, and cold drinks.
Wish us luck in Houston, and remember you can always keep up with me on Facebook, on twitter, and on Instagram in between my blogging! Oh and speaking of social media.. quick cool story.. A Lady posted on my Facebook page asking who’s autographs were on a race tire that her friend found in the backyard of a house they just got. They could make out my name, but wasn’t sure of the other two autographs. I replied that the other two were Matt Hagan and Tim Wilkerson. In the meantime a woman had seen the post where I responded with the names, and recognized the tire. Turns out she had gotten that tire for her son, and after Superstorm Sandy, she gave it to her son’s father because she lost everything and had no place to store it. He left the tire at the house when he moved. She got in contact with the person who found it, and was able to pick it up and reunite the tire with her son. It’s crazy how powerful social media can be!
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!