Hey everyone...sorry again for the delay...So let’s get this party started!
So Vegas... it was a great trip! I am so excited to be writing about this race. First it was my birthday so we always have fun. We started off by flying in on Wednesday. Terry and I never both get to fly. It was great not having to be in the truck for what always seems like forever! Thursday we got teched in and then started working to make sure that we were ready for qualifying. Then Thursday night we went down to NY NY and did the autograph signing. It was such a beautiful day and it was out on the Brooklyn Bridge! It was the Terry show... both Terry and Terry McMillen were sitting together, and it is always a great time when they are together. Since they both came from the IHRA they have known each other for a long time and it is always great to see people away from the track. There were so many fans.
Friday was a crazy busy day. There was one point in the day where I thought we were going to pack up and leave. While this may sound bad it is actually Terry being a grown up. He has been racing for so long and we always do whatever we have to to make sure that he can race. In the last few years his priorities have changed. He was having a problem getting in and out of the car, and he said that if he couldn’t safely get out he was not going to run the car. So the guys worked down to the wire making sure that the car was perfect. I got to do the warm up, which is always fun and it gets you into the mood! LOL...
So for Q1 we planned to go out a few hundred feet and make sure that it did everything it was supposed to. With it being a brand new chassis Terry wanted to make sure there were no mistakes. We also decided that we would run the Impala body instead of the Toyota. There were some things that just weren’t perfect with it so we have decided to wait. We are hoping that in Houston we will take it with us and if Friday goes well then we will try it on Saturday. So then there was Q2. It was so great to see. At first I was upset because they kept saying that he hit the wall. It did get close at the top end and I don’t even like to think that something happened. Then they finally said the 4.28 was good! We were all so excited. I think it took us a good 45 mins to get back to work in the pit. It was such a great way to start the weekend. We ended up being number 12 for the day. So we got ready for Q3. It went up there and smoked the tires. We were in line for Q4, and as we watched pair after pair not make it down the track, we started thinking that we would pull out if at all possible. So Jeff Arend and Jon Capps were in front of us and we waited... Jeff made it down and Jon didn’t so we were in. We chose to pull out and save it for Sunday.
So on Sunday we went to driver intros and then got ready for E1. I think it was a total of 3 times that Hight’s team switched lanes. So we were waiting and we saw them changing tires. So Terry made some changes. It was a little too hopped up and we lost. It was on a pretty good pass, but when he saw Robert pulling away he stepped off and at the same time the belt broke. The good thing was there were no hurt parts so we packed up and we all headed out.
We have been home working on all of the stuff and getting ready for Houston. We moved the dragster into the big shop, and I started getting it ready for testing. I am so excited. Now all day I go over procedure so that I am not behind the curve ball when its time. I don’t have as much time with the Tree like most of the drivers, so I am a slower on my lights. Terry keeps telling me not to worry about it, but I can’t help wanting to do a good job.
On Easter Sunday it was also Braiden’s birthday. I can’t believe my little man is 3. He is getting so big. So we did an Easter egg hunt on Saturday and went to the zoo on Sunday. We had a lot of fun. This weekend we are having Braiden’s party and I am so excited to see everyone.
Houston will be our next event and I know we are all in a good place and are getting ready for this race. With it being at sea level we know it’s going to be a pretty fast field. I know it will be warm, but we are really looking forward to improving. Like I said in the last blog it’s been like Christmas and parts showing up all the time. Now our new crankshafts are on their way. That is exciting because we have never owned a new one.
Hope everyone has a great week...
It feels like it has been an overwhelming few weeks. There has been so much that needed to be done before we go to Vegas that we have been working nonstop. Along with our normal visits to Seattle to see McKailen we have had a lot going on. Right now as I write this Terry is boarding a plane to come home, he will fly all night and then will work all day tomorrow to finish the final details on the car. He doesn’t even want to load it in the trailer if everything is not perfect.
As I have said before this year is going to be very different for us. We have the ability to be more prepared than ever. With this we now have two cars, two bodies, plenty of spare motors, and other parts. Now there are the usual pieces that you replace all the time on these cars and then there are the items that don’t always have to be replaced. Well I am pretty sure that this new car has everything new you could have. It feels like Christmas every day that I walk into the shop. There is always a Fed Ex or UPS package being delivered. As a woman, gifts and opening packages appeal to me, so Terry always lets me open all of the new stuff.
As many of you have probably read we are trying to have the Toyota body ready for Las Vegas. The final decision will be made tomorrow. The Impala came back from paint and now its wing is going on and the vinyl is getting ready. This way either body is ready for the race. We are so excited about going to Vegas. It is my birthday, and I am looking forward to a good weekend with a great group of people. It is also Ben’s birthday so I am sure it will be interesting. Ben is one of our crew members and has been with us since last year.
Terry will be participating in the autograph signing that is being hosted at NY NY! I always love when he gets to do them. It is time for him to get to talk to the fans. He usually is under the car or in the trailer tuning so this is a good way for him to get to talk to some of the fans.
Along with everything that has been happening on the racing end, we of course are busy getting customers items shipped out. We have customers all over the world, and it is really great to get to talk to them. They are very supportive and understanding of our race schedule.
Since getting engaged we have planned a lot of the details for the wedding, and I am getting so excited. This week we went and had our engagement photos done! They are beautiful. Our photographer does amazing work and has become a really good friend of mine… I am so glad that I get to work with her. Terry always does really well with taking pictures with me, but he was so awesome at the shoot. We had a lot of fun and this is the best part about being engaged!
A few more things that have been keeping me from writing is the fact that I had been looking for a new car for almost 3 weeks. Right after I wrote the last blog, Terry was in an accident and totaled my car. He had never been in an accident so when he called it was very unreal. He was hit by a little old woman who had to go to the E.R. and was telling him that she was sorry and that she wasn’t going to drive anymore. He said she was so nice. He said that as the airbag came out he watched in slow motion and tried to stop it. He felt so bad and kept apologizing and I told him not to worry. We then searched for a car for what felt like forever! We are finally settled into our car and back on track.
Lastly, on the same day as our engagement photos one of my dogs had to be put down. This is only the second dog I have ever lost and the first time I wasn’t expecting it. This time was different. When I first got this dog I was 17 and he was awesome. He was a golden retriever and he was my dog for sure. I then went to college and he stayed with my parents. He has been with them for 11 and ½ years. He is definitely the hardest to lose because he is what started the trend of our type of dog. The last three days of his life had to have been hard and we all decided it was better for him to go. I miss him a lot and it’s been really hard on our family. So for all the other animal lovers, they really are part of the family and it just stinks. I know he is better now but I still would rather be selfish and have him here. Braiden isn’t quite sure what happened. He knows that “Cin-cin” is gone and that he had a “boo-boo” but he doesn’t understand why everyone was sad. I am sure that it is better that he doesn’t get it yet but now he talks about him every day and it’s hard.
Well I hope that everyone has a great week and can’t wait until Vegas! Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/T_HaddockRacing and on FB....
I am sorry for the lack of blogs. I have started this blog 5 times... literally. Every time I think I am going to get it finished something comes up. So I will hurry through the preseason stuff because I am sure many of you are wondering what happened at Pomona.
So during the off-season we worked like crazy trying to make sure that everything was perfect. We had more prepared than ever… we had heads, blocks, racks and much more ready. The body was painted black and ready to go fast. At the end of the season we found some changes we could make to make it better and we tried.
In the middle of all of this, we decided that we were finally going to build an office for me in the shop so that Braiden and I could be there more often. That was interesting considering Terry and I are not carpenters at all. So the walls are, up but it hasn’t been finished.
Next, we got ENGAGED!!! It was so awesome. I will keep most of the details to myself, but we went to Ruth Chris’ for dinner which is amazing, and I love steak! Then we went on a horse drawn carriage ride around downtown Austin, and that’s where he decided to ask. I cried of course because that’s what girls do. We have decided that we are going to get married this summer. No need for a long engagement. However, with the short amount of time I have already found my dress and picked a location. We are so excited! He is amazing to me. He was very funny about it. He believes that you should save 3 months’ worth of pay and ask the father before... he did it all right, and my ring is beautiful!
Moving on.... So we went to Pomona. Many things happened, and it’s hard to know where to start. First, I have to say, it was the most uneventful trip he has ever had in the big truck. No scale issues, no blown tires, and he got there earlier than we expected. So Tuesday he parked and we set up the circus. We were in no hurry because we knew the car was ready and that we were prepared. Tuesday afternoon we decided we would roll the car out so that it was ready for tech on Wednesday.
When we got the car on the door it started feeling like something was wrong, but we couldn’t tell until it was out. Then we lifted the body and found that the chassis was broke. We originally only saw one clean cut break. So we got it into the pit and we talked with the NHRA officials, and we decided that we would send it over to Worshams’ and have them fix it. So we stripped the front loaded it up. As we started to look at it closer we found 4 breaks. Only the one was all the way through, but we were more concerned. I’ll let Terry take the story from here…
Now I must say this because there has been much speculation to what happened. We have no idea. Our chassis builder is Ty Baumgartner with Baumgartner Race Cars. We have had his cars for the last 7 years, and this has never happened. He is an incredible chassis builder, and I wouldn’t trade his cars for anything. He has always made sure that I could be in new pipe and that I was safe. After Englishtown last year, he front-halved our car in less than 2 weeks to have it ready for our next race. He always makes sure that we have what we need and does anything he can to keep it right. In 2008 I won a championship with his car and know that it is a good piece.
When the car arrived at Worshams, they determined that there were 10 different breaks. They have all come to the conclusion that there is something wrong with the tubing. As I said this has never happened before and I trust Ty with my life. Ty is going to get the car in the next few weeks, and he is going to have it pull tested to see if there is something wrong with it. If not, I can only say that this was a fluke accident. There have also been speculations that I tied the car down wrong. I will clarify that now. I have been doing this for 20 years, and I have never had one break in the trailer. I am meticulous about how the car is tied down, and I have not changed anything. It has also been questioned about the trailer. The trailer is equipped with air ride, and we have checked and rechecked it to make sure that it worked as it is designed. We have not been able to find any problems. We have since brought everything home, and it all looks like new.
Now that all of that has been covered back to how we continued our weekend. Grant Downing called us Wednesday morning and told us that because of all of the cracks he didn’t think he could fix it, and also it wouldn’t be proper if he did. So he brought the car back, and we stripped it down Wednesday afternoon. As many of you know, Gary Densham is one of my very good friends. He just had a new car made by Grant Downing and throughout our conversations decided that we could purchase the chassis from him. We felt like he was saving our career. So we called our guys and told them what the task was going to be... to try and build the car in the pit and be ready for Saturday. We knew there was no way to be ready any earlier. Our guys the amazing guys they are said let’s do it. So they all worked their tails off. We did everything we could, but Friday evening we looked at it and knew there was no way to make it and make everything perfect. The car is roughly 85% finished. So we all continued to work Saturday and even with the rain delays we didn’t push to do the wrong thing. Now, I’ll let Jenna resume the story…
Terry loves to race, and he has more heart than anyone I know. He wants to be successful and do the right thing, so we have come home. Many people thought we would attend Phoenix because it was the following weekend and on our way home, but we opted out. We couldn’t have all of our guys, and we didn’t feel it was the right decision for us. So we came home. Our next event will be Las Vegas, and are really looking forward to it.
So since we have been back in the shop, he has been working day and night — OK maybe a little exaggeration — but he has been working hard to make sure that all the block repair work gets our and started making plans for the car.
One crazy thing, in the midst of all that was happening at the track, we had made plans for McKailen to come to Pomona for the week, so Terry had to leave to go get him and bring him back. He would never short him because of all the other things going on. So we got to spend a lot of time with him. It is always good to see the kids play together and with all the other racers’ children. We went to Disneyland on Monday, which was awesome, and then because my grandmother is still in California, we went down to see her on Tuesday. Terry then took McKailen back, and Braiden and I spent the whole day with my grandmother.
Wednesday we decided we would finally load up, however, Mother Nature didn’t agree with this decision. It rained off and on all day. Densham also came by and picked up our golf cart for us. When he did that he also brought us his spare Impala body that goes with the new car. So now we have two cars and two bodies... this is a blessing in disguise. At least we know if we ever have this problem again we will just roll out the second car. There have been a few jokes made that now I could drive a Funny Car with the other women in the class, but I don’t want to... I may try it once just to see though.
So now it is going to be a mad dash to get the first car back to Ty, to get the second car completed, and now we have to paint the Impala to match the Toyota. Personally I don’t like the look of the Impala, but for Las Vegas it may be our best bet. Seeing that it clips right on the new car we need to make the best decision. So we will just wait and see how it all turns out.
I would like to personally thank my guys, Ben Rogers, Jeremy Ozga, Chris Defrang, and everyone else who helped this weekend. The guys from Santo Rapisarda’s Top Fuel team came worked on the car as well. We couldn’t have been as close as we were without them. Lastly, I would like to thank Bass with Patriot Engineering for believing in us and being part of our team.
Back to work, and I promise it won’t be so long between blogs.
I hope everyone is having a great start to the new year. I need to get you caught up on the month of December. While many teams get to go on vacation, we don’t. Since it is just Terry and I, we have to start right away. Along with all of the things that need to be done for the team and car, we also have the block business which is getting busier.
The first week of the month we worked like crazy. We got all the vinyl off the car and started to make a plan for all the things that need to be done. Terry also took in several blocks at Pomona, and they have been showing up at our door, which is good because there are many items that need to be paid for in the upcoming season. So it was a very long week.
The following week we went to visit McKailen. It was a combined trip to accomplish many things. We took McKailen out of school on Friday and we went to the Great Wolf Lodge. It’s one of his favorite places to go. Since Terry has been the only one going, we figured that it wouldn’t hurt him to miss one day since we were all there. So then Friday we played for a while and then headed back into the city. It always feels like we are on the run when we go to visit him. Since we don’t have a place there, it is always a different place and nowhere to call home. One day we are hoping to change that, but right now it’s just not feasible. So while we were there we, of course, went and saw Santa. There is also this beautiful carousel that he loves to ride. So Kailen, Braiden and I all rode it; it was Terry’s turn to take photos. We also took family pictures for our Christmas cards. Then we took the kids ice skating. While Braiden was not sure about it, Kailen was ready to go. It had been a long time since I had skated so Terry took Kailen and Braiden and I watched. There were so many people there, it was crazy. They have invented these contraptions to help the younger kids with their balance. It took a while for them to get one but when they did it was so much fun. We even got Braiden on the ice for a moment. We also celebrated Terry’s birthday with all of us together. I knew that we weren’t all going to be together so we had a nice dinner and hung out.
After we returned home it was only a few days and Terry went back. So he did as much of his work as possible so I didn’t see him very much. In order to make sure that we got all of our visitation time we combine our second visit with our week for Christmas. Terry went there on his birthday and then on Saturday morning they got on a plane to come home. It always feels right when everyone is home. So Braiden was with his dad over the weekend and when he came home he was so excited to see Kailen. Sunday night Santa came to our house to make sure that McKailen would get to enjoy his presents. We had a great week, while Terry still had to work a lot we tried to make sure that every day he came home early enough to get to play. Then he would read to them and they would go to bed. I made dinner almost every night, which doesn’t usually happen since we are not home. Even though McKailen claims to be a vegetarian he sure did eat everything I made, including several different types of meat, and he said he liked it. I was so proud of him. On the last night he was here we drove to Dallas and took him to Medieval Times. We went there in California and he talks about it all the time so he was so excited. Before the show we went to one of the malls and there was an amazing train display. They could have stayed there all day. So we went to the show and headed home. By the time we got home the kids were crashed out and we put them to bed knowing that we had to get up early to take them to the airport. The way our court order works is that we have McKailen until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve this year. However, if you drop him off then there is no way for Terry to make it back home. So we made arrangements to drop him off at 1 and then Terry rushed back to the airport to get on the last plane home. He almost missed the flight, but he made it and he got home at 11 p.m. that night. I will say he was very disappointed, he always reads the Night Before Christmas story to Kailen whether he has him or not and this year he didn’t get to.
So the next morning Terry and I exchanged gifts. I love my boyfriend, he always knows what to get me. I am obsessed with the Twilight series so he got me the books and movies. I have been asking for a new lens for my camera, so he got me a telephoto lens. Love it!!! Along with clothes and things like that… After we were done we went over to my mom’s and did Christmas at her house. She got us an iPad, which is crazy. We have been having fun with it. It was a fantastic year and Christmas.
At the last possible minute we received an invite from our sponsor. He was opening a high end sports bar and was having an opening party with his friends and family. So Terry and I made the decision that it was in our best interest to go and support him since he supports us all year long. When looking at tickets, they were ridiculous… like $700 a person. So we decided we would drive. So we left Tuesday after Terry was done working. We drove straight through and arrived in Chicago at 1:30 in the afternoon. So we went to our hotel and took a much needed nap. Then we got ready and made our way down to the event. It was beautiful. I had never seen such a nice sports bar. My favorite was the two sided fireplace. We only got to spend a little bit of time with him, but we knew many of the Acme group that was there. It was a lot of fun. We planned on leaving first thing in the morning, however, he had different plans for us. So we got up and explored downtown for a while, and then we headed to his office. We got to spend a lot more time with him than we ever had. It is always hard to explain what went wrong this year, so we were able to discuss issues we had and sort out how to better the next year.
As many of you know when you are a small team you don’t get as much exposure as the others. Also if you don’t do the whole season you get limited coverage. We received nearly 18 minutes of television time, which we felt was really good considering our performance was not what we had hoped for. This equates to more than $640,000 in return value. We felt this was a great amount for us. We are hoping to improve on it this coming year. During our discussion with our sponsor, it has come to our attention that people have been trying to poach our deal. While we expect it from the larger teams because they have a lot to offer, we don’t expect it from people who are on our same level and that we thought were our friends. I would have never thought people who were other part-time racers would go after our deal. Very frustrating…
Well I am pleased to say that it is looking like we will be running 12 to 13 events this year. We are hoping that this year is going to be better than last year, and we are working away every day to be more prepared. It looks like we are going to have 6 racks built, 5 pairs of heads, 5 motors, and much more for the first race. We are so excited. This time last year we were nowhere near as prepared as we are now. Everything is almost done being certified. We are hoping to have a press release out in the next two weeks.
Some of you may be wondering what is happening with me and the dragster. As it stands right now, I will run 2 events toward the end of the year. We are hoping to go testing when it gets little warmer here and finish my license. I have sent out several proposals and am trying to get a sponsor, however, we may wait another season to try and focus on Terry’s events.
We are hoping to go testing with the Funny Car in Las Vegas on our way to Pomona. The car is leaving for the paint shop Monday morning. While our sponsor has chosen to limit what we spend on the paint scheme for the new year, we are going to have a beautiful car at the Chicago event. Speaking of limiting funds… our very good friend from MMS in England designed an amazing trailer for us, and I priced it out to wrap the trailer and I could not believe how expensive it is. Almost $16,000 to wrap the trailer, seeing that we are trying to improve our image we were really hoping to make it look fantastic, but at this price we definitely can’t do that. We are now looking at alternatives.
Well I must go and get back to work. But I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and know everyone is ready to get back to the track. Terry is having massive withdrawals. Thank you to all of our sponsors including Acme Refining, Dipinto Int’l, Clevite, Moto wear, Fram, Autolite, Prestone, ARP, DJ safety, Nitrohype, Patriot Engineering, Howards Rods,Sanders Wheels Simpson. We could not continue to do this without each and every one of you.