COMMERCE, Ga. (May 10, 2016) – Some called it the biggest explosion in NHRA Top Fuel drag racing in over a decade. Terry McMillen, driver of the AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel team won’t argue that point.
“That was a career first for me,” McMillen recalled of the fiery explosion that totalled his race car. “Once I knew the rear tire was gone, all I wanted to do was keep it in my lane and not get into Tony (Schumacher, McMillen’s opponent). I’m just thankful no one got seriously injured.”
McMillen has always known that NHRA Drag Racing is a family sport and it was never more evident to him than immediately after the incident and the week afterwards as the team continued to rebuild for the upcoming Atlanta event this weekend.
“We all want to beat each other for about four seconds,” McMillen said. “After that, we’re a pretty tight-knit group. As soon as I got back to the pits Force (Funny Car Champion John Force) was there on his scooter telling me ‘whatever you need kid, we need you out here, we’re here for you’. Minutes later Tony Schumacher comes down to make sure I’m OK and I just want to make sure he’s OK. Then Don walks in (Don Schumacher, owner of DSR and McMillen’s chassis builder) and tells me not to worry about it. He’s already talked to his guys at the shop and they’re getting a chassis ready for us. That was pretty amazing since we had just started evaluating what happened on that run and Don’s already got a plan to get us back on the track.”
“I’m afraid to start thanking people for fear of leaving someone out,” McMillen added. “Amalie steps in with some extra support to get us back up and running, Weld Wheels steps in and supports us with a set of their new one piece wheels, Nicky Boninfante and the folks at Nitro Sew stepped up with a restraint to keep our blower with the car – it’s really just amazing.”
Anytime there is an incident like the one that McMillen experienced in Houston, a lot of evaluation goes into what happened and how to prevent it from happening again. This was no exception.
“The NHRA came down and we all evaluated the run on the computer and inspected the parts,” McMillen said. “I can tell you this, except for the blower getting away from the car, everything worked exactly as it should have. We looked at the run and there was nothing wrong with Rob Wendland’s tune up. We put a hole out, but the engine didn’t see any excessive pan pressure or blower pressure. We have devices on our car to shut it off if those events occur. Something just broke in the rocker assembly. Rob and the guys are doing a great job in keeping up with the parts. We looked at the valves and none of them had more than four runs on them. Goodyear was down there looking at the tires, Weld looking at their wheels, Schumacher at his chassis – everything did what it was suppose to do from that standpoint. If the blower doesn’t get into the tire, this is an oildown at best.”
“I know this,” said McMillen. “Rob, Bob and the guys and gal have put in a lot of hours this week to get this car ready for Atlanta. We’re not limping in here by any means. Call it whatever you want, XTERMIGATOR 2 or even XTERMIGATOR version 2.0. A lot of people went above and beyond to help us get to Atlanta and we’re not going to let them down.”
Qualifying for the NHRA Southern Nationals begins this Friday, May 13th in Commerce, Georgia. FOX Sports 1 has qualifying coverage on Friday starting at 7:30p.m. EST, Saturday at 10p.m EST with coverage of eliminations starting at 4:30p.m EST Sunday. For more information visit NHRA.com