JOLIET, Ill. — After earning his first round win of the season, Terry McMillen, driver of the Amalie Oil Top Fuel dragster hopes that momentum will carry him deeper into the race at his first hometown appearance in a Top Fuel dragster. The Route 66 Raceway is just minutes from the streets that McMillen roamed as a young man.
“Everything started for me around here,” McMillen said. “I worked two paper routes in this area just to be able to buy my first car and race at U.S. 30 Dragstrip. That 392 (cubic inch) Hemi with two four barrel carburators had to compete against some of the baddest hotrods around.”
While the drag racing competition in the Chicago area was tough in the early days, McMillen knows it’s just as tough today.
“There has always been a lot of top teams in this area and I think if you just look at the depth of the Nitro fields and the car counts, you began to realize that this is a special race for a lot of us. It’s like everyone is looking for a little bragging rights.”
Those fighting for area bragging rights in the Nitro fields include not only McMillen, but also Karamesines, Zizzo, Schumacher, Novelli, Schriefer and Creasy Jr.
“I remember delivering Kendal Oil to Chris Karamesines’ shop when I was a kid,” McMillen said. “Every time I get a chance to race a legend like Chris it’s a special race for me.”
Now McMillen hopes the hometown race will provide the extra boost needed to get his team into the Top 10. His Amalie team sits in the eleventh spot, trailing the ninth spot by just 33 points.
“We’re so close we can almost taste it,” McMillen admitted. “When the season started I thought we had a chance at the Top 10. There’s six more races to go before the Countdown is set and we’ve got a very legitimate chance of making the cut. Chicago starts a seven race, eight week span that’s going to define our season. We just want to make sure we get things started right.”
Another special aspect of the Chicago race is the D.R.A.W. Auction taking place Saturday night in the big tent at the Route 66 Raceway. While McMillen had planned on donating a crew jersey, his recent round win in Topeka provided a memorable moment with a stuffed toy monkey that provided another donation opportunity for D.R.A.W.
“We went into that round wanting to have some fun and winning that round gave us an opportunity to get that proverbial monkey off of our back. Little did we know that so many other people would get a kick out of it,” McMillen said. “We’re hoping it helps D.R.A.W. as much it did for us.”