Mellows and Noakes join Hoosier Thunder Motorsports
ELKHART, Ind. – Terry McMillen, Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team owner announced changes today to his long-time ride, the Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by Torco Race Fuels. McMillen will turn over tuning and driving duties on the Amalie Oil InstiGator to concentrate on the Amalie Oil Top Fuel Dragster. The move will strengthen both the Top Fuel and Funny Car teams.
McMillen will rely on the championship tuning abilities of veteran Les Mellows while driving duties will rest on the shoulders of Paul Noakes. Both Mellows and Noakes reside in Ontario.
“Last season I drove both the Top Fuel and Funny Car,” McMillen explained. “Last season the Top Fuel car was owned by Foley and Lewis and this season it will be out of the Hoosier Thunder stable. We’re excited about having two top professional cars on our team. I’m confident that Les and Paul can take that car to the next level and represent Amalie and all of our associate sponsors well.”
McMillen drove the Amalie Oil InstiGator for seven seasons with a career best third place finish in 2004. The winner’s circle eluded McMillen until last season, when he captured his first Iron Man behind the wheel of his Top Fuel Dragster. “It’s a hard decision to take yourself out of the drivers seat,” McMillen said. “But Amalie deserves the best on both of these cars. I can’t think of anything that would make me happier than to have both cars in the winner’s circle before the season is over.”
Les Mellows was voted the 2007 Crew Chief of the Year by DragRaceCanada.com and tuned Rob Atchison to three consecutive World Championships (2003-2005). Mellows tuned Paul Noakes the past two seasons. While they raced a limited schedule, they received maximum benefits. The two Canadians entered 12 events over the past two seasons, reached the final round eight times and posted four wins. “Paul and I have a great chemistry and understanding of the car,” Mellows explained. “We feel we have the ability to win.” Mellows has been married 23 years to Lynn. Les and Lynn have a 22-year-old daughter Trista, who is entering the interior design and consulting world. Les works for London Motor Products and Cadillac Hummer of London as Used Car Manager.
“Terry and I had discussed many scenarios late last year and early this year and we were able to put a deal together that was good for all parties,” Mellows said. “Terry is a vocal spokesperson and a driven advocate of the class. He is one of the hardest working drivers / owners in racing. Now he is handing us all the tools to be successful on a full schedule.” Paul Noakes agrees, “I have always wanted to be able to run for a championship – be competitive. Its been a dream of mine to do this with the necessary support and resources in place.”
For Noakes’ efforts in 2007 he was voted Drag Racer of the Year by DragRacingCanada.com. Paul is a high school transportation and technology teacher for Saunders Secondary School in London, where he shares his message with the students daily – ‘Hard work pays off and dream until your dreams come true.’ Noakes is married to Gina and has a four-year-old daughter, Brooklyn who loves race cars, trophies and a ‘few little girl things.’
Noakes will bring several of his marketing partners to the Amalie Oil InstiGator team, including Harman Heavy Vehicle Specialists, Northland Dental and Rondeau Dental Seminars.
McMillen is excited about seeing some of the Canadian power that many alcohol racers have enjoyed for years. “There’s a long list of Canadian’s from Ontario that know how to make these cars go fast,” McMillen said. “I’d put Les on top of that list.”
Mellows added, “I think it is safe to say London Ontario is the alcohol funny car capital of Canada! At one point about eight years ago, I think we had seven alcohol funny cars within 75 miles and four of those were inside the city limits.”
While Mellows has his hand on the pulse of funny car power, Noakes has been weaned on it from a young age. “I have known and watched Paul grow up since he was 11-years-old,” Mellows remembers. “I remember all he wanted to do was race funny cars. “His dad had one that Frank Hawley (also from London ) first licensed in and drove in ’74. Paul and his dad Brian raced and socialized with guys like the late Herbie Rodgers (Uncle Herb) and Bob Atchison. It is very memorable and special to watch those relationships build a very fine driver like Paul from such an impressionable age.”
McMillen hopes that Les and Paul can bring some of that magic to the Amalie InstiGator team. “These guys have a lot of comradery and they’re a lot of fun to be around and work with. I know our fans and sponsors are going to love these guys,” McMillen said.
“I believe we had great chemistry as a team last year,” Mellows said. “We are working towards retaining some of that.”
To learn more about Paul Noakes, visit: http://www.noakesracing.com/
Noakes / Mellows trophy photo courtesy DragRaceCanada.com – Bruce Biegler