POMONA, Calif. – When Terry McMillen rolls the Amalie Oil Top Fuel dragster into the staging beams at Auto Club Raceway, it won’t be the first time he’s inched forward to turn on the bulbs at a drag strip. However, it will be his first time at the NHRA Winternationals.
When the 50th running of the NHRA Winternationals takes place this weekend (Feb 11-14), it will not only mark McMillen’s first runs in Pomona, but also the beginning of his first full NHRA season.
“We’ve never been more prepared to start a season than we are right now,” McMillen said. “Yet in the back of my mind, I still have to wonder if it’s enough. There are a lot of strong teams out here. We know it won’t be easy to make the Countdown to the Championship, but I can guarantee we’re going to have fun trying.”
When the drag racing season ended last year, a series of events unfolded, which culminated in an unprecedented level of commitment from Amalie Oil Company, McMillen’s long-time sponsor. With additional commitments from his associate sponsors, McMillen began to realize his dream of racing at the highest level of the sport. The thought of staring down 23 NHRA events was about as intense as turning on the second set of staging lights in your first final round. In the ‘you blink – you lose’ world of the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, McMillen set out to prepare his team for the long road ahead.
“We’ve got a strong team put together,” McMillen said. “Most of my guys were able to make it back for the full season. Plus, now we have Richard Hartman making the tuning calls so we have a lot of high expectations for our team. We’re ready to get in there and mix it up a little.”
The off season commitments from sponsors to race the entire season is something McMillen appreciates.
“When you look at what our economy has been through and the hole that some companies and individuals are still trying to dig out of – it makes committing to a full schedule that much more special to me,” McMillen added. “The Barkett family, Denny Madden, Andrew Bornstein and the entire Amalie family have been with us from the beginning and helped build this program from back in my Alcohol Funny Car days. Guys like Mark Adelizzi from Flatout Gaskets and Rob and Kim Reeves from Global Power Systems, believed in this program when it was nothing more that budget numbers on a piece of paper.”
“Plus with additional support this season from our new associate sponsors like Wolverine Boots and Apparel, Cyclo, Impact Racing and Mechanix Wear, we know we have a huge responsibility to represent them well.”
Pro qualifying sessions for the 50th annual NHRA Winternationals are scheduled for 3 p.m. on Feb. 11-12 and at noon and 3 p.m. on Feb. 13. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14.
ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 11 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Feb. 13. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute pre-race show, at 10 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, Feb. 14. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage beginning at 8 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Feb. 14.