Rockingham, N.C. – It what must seem like a continuing and repeating nightmare for Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator team, the Rockingham Dragway proved to be the villain once again as the team failed to make the field in the rain shortened qualify session.
Rockingham, N.C. – Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Race Fuels, head for the sand hills of North Carolina looking to restore a little magic at the Nicko’s NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals. “Rockingham had been good to us up until last season,” said McMillen. “Somehow we took the ‘Rock’ for granted.”
San Antonio, Tex – Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, leave the season opening, eMax Drag Racing Series event with a semi-final appearance and a spot among the top 3 in the point standings. The Elkhart, Indiana driver eliminated Terry Munroe before falling to Mark Thomas. Thomas went on to win the event.
Elkhart, Ind. – March 16, 2006 – If a car could smile, the Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, would show off a toothy grin as big as the state of Texas. Maybe the car is just a reflection of its driver. Terry McMillen, pilot of the InstiGator, smiles as easy as the paint scheme on his hot rod. “Texas feels a lot like home for this team,” said McMillen. “It’s the first race of the eMax Drag Racing season and it’s the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals, there’s plenty to be happy about.” It’s no wonder San Antonio feels like home for the Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team, the InstiGator has posted a semi-final and final round appearance in the past 2 season.
Rockingham, NC – Terry McMillen and his Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team end the 2005 season at Rockingham Dragway with high expectations and hopes. “Unless you win the championship, you always think that the season could have been better,” said McMillen. “The same is true for us. But, I don’t think I’ve ever ended a season this excited about our future.”
McMillen pulled double duty during the weekend, piloting both the Amalie Oil InstiGator, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels and the newly unveiled Lukoil Top Fuel Dragster.
Eighteen Funny Cars made the trip to fight for one of the eight spots available. The team made 3 valiant attempts to qualify the car starting on a cool and brisk Friday night in the sand hills of eastern North Carolina. The weather proved to be more trick than treat, although the round ended with McMillen in the #7 position. Temperatures were again expected to be below normal for Saturday’s qualifying and the IHRA responded positively by moving up each round 2 hours in the schedule. The InstiGator made a hard charge in the afternoon attempt, but a blown fuel line near the top end slowed the car to a respectable 5.892 ET, but in the #9 position, just .001 seconds from the field.
Due to the adjusted cold weather schedule, the Saturday turn around between qualifying attempts sent the Hoosier Thunder team into the pits thrashing. “When the fuel line broke, it leaned out the motor and left us with some damage that would require both heads to be serviced,” explained Tad “TV” Heflick, co-crew chief. The team was able to get the car back for the evening session, but McMillen wasn’t able to improve his position. “I hate ending a season like this,” added Brent “Skinny” Lidgard, co-crew chief. “The car is better and we’re better than that.”
The Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car finished the season 6th in points with 2 final, 2 semi and 3 quarter final round appearances. McMillen also set new personal best ET (5.825) and MPH (241.97) during the 2005 campaign.
Rob Atchison (2003-2005 World Champion) won 9 out of 12 events in dominating fashion, facing McMillen 6 times during the season. Atchison was only stopped 3 times from winning an event – twice at the hands of the InstiGator. “Rob and his team deserve a lot of credit,” said McMillen. “They’ve been the team to beat for 3 years running.” Jokingly McMillen added, “Heck, we’re responsible for 66% of his loses – I suppose he’ll be gunning for us next season!”
The Amalie Oil InstiGator was supported this season by its partners: Amalie Oil, eRaceFuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings, Crane Cams, LGI Digital and Eastern Race Fuels. McMillen will be changing rides next season but the InstiGator will live on. “At this point, I’ve talked to everyone of our partners and they are excited about moving forward with the InstiGator Funny Car,” said McMillen. “It’s a very recognizable car.” A driver search has already begun and an announcement is expected sometime early this winter.
In Top Fuel action, the much anticipated driving debut of McMillen brought many to the starting line to see how the “Gator” could swim in the nitormethane pool of dragsters. With Mark Oswald consulting and under the watchful eye of Evan Knoll, the Lukoil sponsored machine made a nice 1st pass at 5.332ET / 206.20MPH after shutting down at the 1000ft mark. “We were mixing up a few cylinders on the top end – and I didn’t want to tear anything up on the first hit, so I just clicked it off,” explained McMillen. He was qualified 6th after the first round.
In what will surely be the first of many personal best for McMillen’s top fuel career, his Saturday pass helped him to join the 300MPH club with a rousing 4.774ET at 311.05MPH. The pass helped keep him in the fast field, on the bump spot, with room for improvement. “We knew after that pass we had a pretty good car,” explained McMillen. “The blower belt was shredding and we lost a couple of cylinders on the top end – we knew there was at least another tenth in that car.”
The final round of qualifying had McMillen paired with Bobby Lagana Jr. for a shot to improve his position in what would become the fastest top fuel field in IHRA history. McMillen left first and pulled away, enjoying a .006 lead to Lagana, before he lost the blower belt and burst panel. Based on Lagana’s incremental times- the Lukoil dragster was on a .60’s pass. “We were 259MPH at the eighth,” said McMillen. “I think one of the crew guys dropped a few XLR8 Chews in the tank – we were certainly on a very good pass. While I was disappointed to miss this field with all of the sponsors that we had here, it was pretty exciting to see what our future looks like – and it’s fast!”
McMillen is planning a short winter with lots of testing and announcements. The team expects to announce the addition of a crew chief, the location of their new race shop, testing and racing schedules during the next several weeks.
Mark Oswald Tunes Lukoil Top Fuel Dragster at Rockingham
Rockingham, NC – The rescheduled 10th Annual Udderly Smooth World Finals will mark the completion of the 2005 Hooters IHRA Drag Racing season. The frost on the pumpkin means those that live their life by the quarter mile will reminisce about hard fought summer battles against man, machine and mother nature. For Terry McMillen and his Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team, it marks the beginning of a new era. McMillen will use the World Finals to not only pilot his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, but also to make his driving debut in the Lukoil Top Fuel Dragster.
The InstiGator team is determined to get Terry an Iron Man this season before he gives up the seat in the Funny Car. “TV Tad” Heflick, co-crew chief commented, “Our team has worked very hard this season. Terry has put a lot of confidence in us and it’s time for us to deliver.” “Skinny” Lidgard, co-crew chief added, “This car has been producing a lot of horsepower all season, our half track incrementals are as fast as anyone’s, we can’t wait to put all of it together in Rockingham.” The Amalie Oil InstiGator team will be aiming for it’s second straight top 5 finish in IHRA competition.
“My phone has been ringing off the wall,” said McMillen. “Once the season is over, I’ll sit down and look at all the different potential drivers for this car. We’ve been able to create great brand identity with InstiGator for Amalie. Anything that we do will only enhance that identity and the relationship that we enjoy with Amalie.”
The rescheduled World Finals gave the Hoosier Thunder team more seat time in the newly debut Lukoil Top Fuel Dragster allowing McMillen the chance to complete his licensing and secure veteran tuner Mark Oswald for Rockingham. Oswald was the 1984 NHRA Funny Car champion and as a driver, he scored 20 national event wins – two in Top Fuel and 18 in Funny Car – in 41 final-round appearances.
“We’re very excited,” explained McMillen. “When this opportunity started coming together, Wendy Tysinger (Eastern Race Fuels) and Bo Kinney (LGI Digital) were right there to partner with us to put a fuel car together for Rockingham. The early commitment that they made was instrumental in putting this fuel team together.”
Shortly after Eastern Race Fuels and LGI Digital became associate sponsors on the car, Lukoil and XLR8 joined to assure McMillen and his team a short off-season. “It’s going to be a very short winter for sure,” added McMillen. “Heck, we love cars, it’s always a short winter for us anyway. Testing has already begun. We’re here to be competitive and win races.”
The Lukoil Top Fuel Dragster, energized by XLR8, is currently setting its 2006 racing schedule with all IHRA and at least 8 NHRA races being considered. “I believe we have the team and a car that can compete with anyone in NHRA or IHRA,” added McMillen. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Rockingham, NC – Life is often compared to a rollercoaster ride — plenty of ups and downs with excitement in the middle. If life is a rollercoaster, then the IHRA is the state fair with at least 12 opportunities to ride that rollercoaster.
The 12th and final ride of the season begins October 7-9 during the 14th Annual World Finals at Rockingham Dragway. The Amalie Oil InstiGator, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, enters the race with 2 final, 2 semi final and 3 quarter final appearances for the season. “It’s been a good season and we’ve had our ups and downs,” commented team owner and driver Terry McMillen. “We’ve got some unfinished business. My team is hungry for that Iron Man.” Co-Crew Chief Tad “TV” Heflick added, “This will be our best chance to get our Iron Man.” Co-Crew Chief Brent “Skinny” Lidgard agreed, “It’s taken us awhile to find out what made the car happy – I can see the smile on that InstiGator’s face again.”
The Rockingham Dragway usually provides lots of speed for the fall event. In round 1 of qualifying McMillen set a personal best ET for the 2004 season (5.835 – in 2005 he reset his ET at 5.825). Last seasons fall event saw 23 funny car drivers fight for the right to race on Sunday. “It always seems that the competition is up for the finals,” said McMillen. “I’m certain there will be enough fun and excitement to go around when 8 cars try to make this field.”
“Any time that you set out to race in a season, you know that you’re going to have a few speed bumps,” said McMillen. “When that happens, it’s nice to know that someone has your back. Our backs were more than covered by the strong support of partners like Amalie Oil, eRaceFuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams. Our season is successful because of them.”
Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car will begin qualifying at the Rockingham Dragway on Friday night, October 7. Elimination rounds begin on Sunday.
For tickets of information about the event, visit the Rockingham Dragway.
Elkhart, IN – In the wild, an alligator has few predators. The ferocious reptile rules the swamp without fear. Man is probably the natural enemy of the alligator.
The Amalie Oil InstiGator, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, experienced a natural predator at the 14th Annual TORCO Racing Fuels President’s Cup Nationals in the form of a “gremlin” living in the clutch of the InstiGator Funny Car. “We’ve changed every part on this car that could be changed,” explained McMillen. “For nearly 7 races now we’ve scratched our head and wondered why our incremental times up until about half track were as good or better than most. Yet, our ET and MPH just wasn’t there at the top end. Well, we found the culprit in the clutch system. If there’s any team out there that thought we were going to just go through the motions in Rockingham, they better think again. We’re going to be there to be a spoiler for someone!”
The InstiGator team has spent the past 2 months tuning and retuning every aspect of the motor. Brent “Skinny” Lidgard, Co-Crew Chief added, “This car will run. Now that we’ve found the problem in the clutch I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Terry set new personal best ET and MPH at Rockingham.”
Tad “TV” Heflick, Co-Crew Chief was also optimistic. “There’s been a lot of frustration on this team, we stayed focused and worked through this adversity. Our goal is to get Terry an Iron Man before this season is over. Now that everything about the car is right – we’ll do it.”
The Elkhart, IN based team failed to qualify for the Maryland event that saw 19 cars fight it out for the 8 available spots. “While we certainly were disappointed,” explained Jim “Ogre” Walczak, Marketing Director, “we weren’t without consolation. “Skinny” provided some of us with chocolate. I certainly hope the IHRA reconsiders the 8 car field for Funny Car. Terry has done a lot of work talking to youth about drag racing. The more teams that we can include in the field the better opportunity for younger teams to get experience.”
The entire InstiGator team would like to thank the best partners in drag racing: Amalie Oil, eRaceFuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams.
The Amalie Oil InstiGator will head into Rockingham, NC for the IHRA World Finals October 7-9.
Budds Creek, MD – Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels shook off the summer slump with a semi-final appearance and new personal best ET and MPH in the in Epping, NH, putting the team back on track with a chance to make up ground in the points standings.
The 14th Annual TORCO Racing Fuels President’s Cup Nationals, contested at the Maryland International Raceway September 23-25, sets the stage for stop #11 on the Hooters IHRA Drag Racing series. McMillen qualified the InstiGator in the #3 position in the 2004 event, making his push to a career best finish. “This year isn’t different,” explained McMillen. “Tension will be turned up a notch for everyone with only two races remaining. We have to continue on the success that we had in Epping if we’re going to make a run up the points ladder.”
The InstiGator team spent the week testing in Martin, MI during the Funny Car Nationals in preparation for the national event. Although the track was slick, McMillen was encouraged by the results. “Anytime that we can make hits on a track, we learn more about the car and our team; that’s a good thing.” Co-crew chief Tad “TV” Heflick had a different view. “We come out here to win. We give our driver the best car in the show – then he doesn’t deliver,” joked an upbeat Heflick. McMillen had one of the better performing cars that night and appeared set for a final round showdown with Mike Comella, before drawing a red light. “My guys have been having a lot of fun with that,” said McMillen. “That’s the third time in my career that I red lit. I don’t ‘guess’ at the tree. My reaction times are always consistent – check it out,” he argues in jest. “Hey, I would like to blame the timing equipment, but that would sound like an excuse. I’m just glad it’s out of my system before Maryland.”
McMillen (currently 5th in points)doesn’t think it’s to late to charge back in to the points race. “We’ve dug a little hole when we hit our summer slump, said McMillen. “Can we catch Robbie (Atchison) or (Jim) Sickles? That would be pretty tough at this point. Can we get ourselves back to being a top 3 team? If we do our job and get a little help, it’s certainly possible.”
McMillen will arrive in Maryland early again this week to continue his year long media blitz, doing radio shows and media day. “I enjoy doing these pre race events,” explains McMillen. It’s good for the IHRA and it’s good for our team and partners. We couldn’t do this if it weren’t for our great partners, like; Amalie Oil, eRaceFuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams.”
Epping, NH – The 10th Annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals lived up to the title sponsors company slogan. The event was “Better Than It Has To Be” resetting world records in each of the professional drag racing categories.
Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, would not be out done, setting new personal best ET (5.825) and MPH (241.97) during the qualifying session. McMillen qualified the InstiGator #5 in the fastest Funny Car field in IHRA history. “This was tough weekend for the guy that has to rewrite the record books,” explained McMillen. “But, it was a great weekend for Amalie, their distributors and friends.”
McMillen continued his starting line dominance in eliminations with a 0.028 reaction time to nail 2 time IHRA Champion Rob Atchison to the tree, taking the round win and advancing to the semi-finals for a show down with Jim Sickles.
McMillen took a 0.033 starting line advantage in his race with Sickles (0.012 VS 0.045), but it wouldn’t be enough to upset the Caledonia, NY native who would go on to win the event in a showdown with 5 time IHRA Champion Mark Thomas. “Congratulations to Jim (Sickles) and his team,” said McMillen. “They threw 5.70s on that track and reset the mile per hour record book every time they rolled up to the tree. It was their weekend.”
While McMillen and his InstiGator team fell short of their goal to bring home the Iron Man for Amalie, the team leaves New England optimistic. “We’re excited about the improvement we saw for our team,” said Brent “Skinny” Lidgard, co-crew chief. Co-crew chief, Tad “TV” Heflick agreed, “With a new personal best under our belt, we’ve got something to work with for the next couple of races.”
“I’ve got the best sponsors and crew in the business,” said McMillen. “These guys worked together to fight through our summer slump. We couldn’t have done it without dedicated sponsors like Amalie Oil, TORCO RaceFuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams.”
McMillen also spent the week meeting Amalie Oil distributors and signing autographs at area retail outlets. Andrew Bornstein, Amalie Motor Oil Business Development Manager, added, “This is our 10th season of involvement with this race. It gets better every year.”
SPEED TV added an in-car camera to the InstiGator during the final round of qualifying and for the elimination rounds. “I had a chance to get a ‘sneak peak’ at the footage,” said McMillen. “Anyone that wants to see what a Funny Car driver has to do to get down a drag strip should tune in! SPEED does a great job of getting fans into the race so they can get an idea of what it’s like.” The original broadcast for the event is scheduled for Saturday, 12/31/2005 at 5PM ET.
If it “ROCKS BOSTON” it must be Lyndon Byers (LB). LB, former Boston Bruin standout, and the WAAF 107.3 crew spent Saturday “Partying In The Pits” with the InstiGator team. The Boston radio station broadcasted live from the pits, interviewed McMillen and hosted a cookout for lucky listeners from their week long promotion.
Not to be out done, Greg and The Morning Buzz (100.3 WHEB) continued their banter with McMillen Saturday atop the timing tower. McMillen appeared in studio with show on Friday and followed up with Saturday’s live broadcast that featured one cast member (Laura) attempting a live interview while sitting in the car during a warm up. “We always have a lot of fun with these guys,” added McMillen.
The next stop for McMillen and the InstiGator team is the 14th Annual, TORCO Race Fuels President’s Cup Nationals, September 23-25, 2005 in Budds Creek, MD, just outside of Baltimore.