ELKHART, Ind. – After completing his first season as Top Fuel team owner and driver, Terry McMillen has set his sights even higher for the 2009 racing season. McMillen was two for two in NHRA starts last year (Atlanta / Las Vegas), including a spot in the fastest 1000ft field in NHRA history at the fall Vegas event. McMillen’s NHRA season will begin at the Gator Nationals in Gainesville, Florida.
IHRA success also came often for McMillen and his Amalie Oil sponsored machine. With four final rounds in a row (five total) and one win, McMillen is planning to hit the ground running again this season when they pull in to Baton Rouge for the IHRA season opener.
“We’ve worked harder and spent more money this off-season than we ever have before,” McMillen said from his Indiana race shop. “We’ve never been more prepared to begin a season than we are right now.”
McMillen hopes his off-season spending spree will pay big dividends. Besides the usual parts and pieces required to make a Top Fuel Dragster go fast, McMillen made a significant off-season acquisition in veteran tuner Doug Kuch. Kuch, who stepped in mid-season last year as consultant, will tune the Amalie Oil entry during the 2009 campaign.
“Doug is one of the top tuners in this business and we’re lucky to have him,” McMillen said. “I wish we had one of those big, go-fast budgets so we can turn Doug loose and let him show what he can really do. But, he’s proved that he can work with a tight budget like we have. He’ll give us an opportunity to win every time we’re out there.”
McMillen also added Glen Camp as car chef to his already strong team.
The Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team has also put together one of the more unique motorsports marketing plans. Instead of racing for a championship, McMillen will target specific markets for partners to give them a maximum return on their investment.
“Let’s face it,” McMillen said. “This is a tough economy and we’re extremely blessed to have Amalie Oil as a primary sponsor on our dragster. This season we’ll race more races, but in markets that make the most sense for our partners.”
This outside of the box approach has proved to be McMillen’s first win of the season. “We spent the off-season talking to our partners and all them thought a target market approach would be the best benefit.”
“We may not be running for a championship in the traditional sense. Our championship will be making certain that our partners get a better return on investment than they expected.”