ELKHART, Ind. — Terry McMillen, driver and owner of the AMALIE® Motor Oil INSTIGATOR Top Fuel Dragster announced today that Rob Wendland will be the crew chief on his NHRA entry that includes associate sponsorship from the University of Northwestern Ohio, Ross Racing Pistons and Flatout Gaskets.
“We’re excited about our future with Rob as crew chief,” McMillen said. “We think Rob is one of the premier young crew chiefs in this business and he’s as hungry as we are to get this gator themed dragster in the winner’s circle.”
“I’m really excited and ready for this challenge,” Wendland said. “We’ve got some work to do, but it won’t be long until other teams take notice of who’s in the lane next to them.”
Forty-eight year-old Wendland of Avon, Ind. compiled seven National Event wins (including the AMALIE® Motor Oil NHRA GATORNATIONALS), four number one qualifiers and two top 10 finishes in just two and a half seasons as crew chief with Don Schumacher Racing, but his drag racing career began at the age of eight in Lawrence, Kan. where he worked the bleach box and VHT line at a Kansas drag strip. “I went with a neighbor to the nearby track. I would fill the ‘bleach box’ with water from a 55 gallon drum that I could barely reach, for the burnout then squirt the glue at the VHT line for the drivers followed by a dry hop. As I continued to hang around, I did more and more things with the cars, going from cleaning oil pans through building cars.”
Wendland’s career has given him opportunities to work with some of the great racers, tuners and fabricators of the drag racing business, including Austin Coil, John Medlen, Bernie Fedderly, Brian Corradia and Mark Oswald.
Wendland was also the 1999 Sportsman Rookie of the Year as a driver for the late Mike Troxel’s Top Alcohol Dragster. He finished sixth in the national points standings with two victories and four Divisional Titles. “I have a hell of a lot of respect for drivers from that experience,” he said. “I used to think a driver should just suck it up and drive through a little tire shake, for example. Well, after driving, I called many of the drivers who had driven for me and apologized.”
“Rob is a well-rounded individual and he brings a lot of assets to our team,” McMillen added. “We can’t wait for the season to get started.”
The NHRA season begins February 5-8 at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona during the NHRA Winter Nationals in southern California.