SAN ANTONIO, TX – When Terry McMillen earned his Top Fuel license in October of 2005 behind the wheel of Evan Knoll’s dragster, he had no idea where the road would lead. Shortly after McMillen earned his license he was diagnosed with a serious and rare fungal eye infection (Fusarium Keratitis) as a result of using Bausch & Lomb’s ReNu with Moisture Loc product. The injury required McMillen to undergo corneal replacement and lens surgery. “For my safety and the safety of drivers around me, I had to sit out the 2006 season regarding Top Fuel racing,” said McMillen. “It wasn’t until recently that my doctor cleared me to race Top Fuel, with the provision that he checks my eye after each race. We have postponed future surgeries at this time.”
Fast forward to San Antonio 2007. McMillen will pilot the Top Fuel Dragster for the Foley and Lewis team and carry the colors of Torco Nitro in an effort to earn a championship. “I’m very excited about a chance to race with the high-quality team that Doug [Foley] and Tim [Lewis] have put together,” said a grateful McMillen. “Doug and I have been closely working together on the Accelerator product line, it only made sense that we team up to race also.”
McMillen will bring marketing savvy and experience to the team, but it will be a new start for the drag racing veteran. “I’ve got a lot of experience in Alcohol and Nitro Funny Car, but I’ll be a rookie driver in Top Fuel. Evan Knoll and Torco Nitro expect great things from this team. Now we just have to go out and deliver.”
McMillen saddled up to the 8000 horsepower machine on Friday and limped into the field at number eight when the car tossed the blower belt about 100 feet into the run. “It’s like hitting a wall,” said McMillen when explaining the first pass. “Those cars pull so many G’s at the hit and then to basically pull the plug at 100 feet, well that’s just a tease.”
The second pass of qualifying paired McMillen against teammate Doug Foley. “It was pretty exciting racing Doug on the second pass of qualifying,” said McMillen. “Doug is a great competitor and there’s no way he wants this old rookie to out qualify him. I wanted bragging rights around the pits, but I guess I’ll have to wait for another day.” McMillen lifted a little early in anticipation of the eighth mile format, putting McMillen temporarily in the second spot right behind Foley who would hold onto the top spot in qualifying. McMillen would end qualifying solidly in the fifth position which would pair him in eliminations against Foley.
“The idea here is for us to face in the finals, not in the opening round,” McMillen said. Foley would make a last-minute decision to switch lanes and put McMillen in the left lane. It would prove to be the difference in the race. McMillen and Foley left the tree together, but McMillen’s Torco Nitro Dragster wound up with violent tire shake, forcing McMillen to pedal. “I tried pedaling it once,” said McMillen. “I could see that Doug shook a little so I thought I might have a chance. When I pedaled it, the car just shook some more. By that time, Doug was away clean I knew it would be another day before I got my first Top Fuel round win.”
“I just want to thank Evan Knoll, Torco Nitro, Foley and Lewis and my entire crew for putting a great car together for me to race. It’s going to be a great year for Knoll-Gas Nitro Jam racing.