Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by Knoll Gas – TORCO Race Fuels, found a combination for success at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton. The 4th Annual CARS RV & Marine & Motorsports Rocky Mountain Nationals presented by Knoll Gas – Torco Race Fuels proved that the beginning of summer may mark a turn in the teams 2006 outlook.
The harder you work, the luckier you get. So, goes the familiar saying that aligns a little bit of luck with a lot of hard work. After a disappointing DNQ in Rockingham, Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Race Fuels found a little luck during round one of qualifying in Grand Bend. The InstiGator broke a fuel line at the top end of the track, slowing McMillen to what would become the sixth qualifying spot in a rain shortened qualifying session. The car appeared to be on its best pass of the young eMax Drag Racing Series season.
Martin, Mich. – In what began as a rescheduled event for inclement weather, the Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, stormed back at the US 131 Motorsports Park’s, National City Thunder Nationals to make a final round appearance. Terry McMillen, pilot of the Amalie sponsored hotrod found plenty to smile about after the event.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Norwalk, OH – The Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, sees improvement at the 24th Annual Skull Gear World Nationals but falls short of desired goal. “Every time we pack up for a race, we expect to win it,” said McMillen.
Eighteen Funny Cars showed up at the famed Norwalk Raceway Park to qualify for one of the eight available spots. While racing for eliminations on Sunday, the competitors reset the #5 IHRA Quickest Fields in Funny Car record with a 5.957 second field, leaving McMillen and his InstiGator just .005 short. “No doubt, we’re disappointed,” said McMillen. “There hasn’t been much rest for this team,” explained Tad “TV” Heflick, Co-Crew Chief, “and we won’t rest until the Amalie Oil InstiGator is back in the finals.” Co-Crew Chief, Brent “Skinny” Lidgard added, “This car has run in the ‘.80s and it will run in the ‘.80s again.”
The team enjoyed an eventful week, participating in the “Thunder in the Streets” event. McMillen also spent time Thursday on Cleveland’s popular WMMS and WXTM radio stations before heading to Toledo for an in-studio TV interview during the evening news. “Thursday was a great,” said McMillen. “It’s a fun way to promote the race and Amalie Oil, eRaceFuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams.”
The next stop on the Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Schedule is the 10th Annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals brought to you by Auto Value Stores. The event takes place September 9-11 at the New England Dragway in Epping NH.
Cayuga, ONT – The 4th Annual AC Delco Canadian Nationals produced the fastest field of Funny Cars (5.930) in IHRA history, surpassing the previous record of 5.938 set during the 2003 World Finals in Rockingham. Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil InstiGator, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, fought among the 16 teams for a spot in the 8 car field, coming up just 0.018 seconds short.
“We’re struggling right now,” explained McMillen. “For the past three races our summer set-up has been off. We’ve been working hard, but we’ve got some more work to do. We’ll be testing more this week.”
The InstiGator team made an encouraging pass during Friday’s qualifying attempt. “Our first hit on Friday had us very optimistic,” Terry added. “We were back to our early season horsepower performance, we just couldn’t get it to stick to the track.”
As the Hooters IHRA Drag Racing series completes the first half of the season, the InstiGator team has had phenomenal performances this year providing two final round, two semi-final and one quarter-final appearance. “We’re still very hungry. There are a lot of rounds left to be run before this season is over,” said McMillen. “We can’t thank our partners enough. Without companies like Amalie Oil, TORCO race Fuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams none of this would be possible.”
The InstiGator team had an opportunity to appear on Hamilton’s popular morning show CH Morning Live, Thursday before the race. “I knew that show was popular,” commented Terry. “It was great to have all of the fans tell us that they liked our segment on the show.” Terry was also featured when Mike Perry of IHRA.com covered the pre-race event.
The next stop on the Hooters IHRA is the 24th Annual TORCO Racing Fuels Northern Nationals contested August 12-13 at the US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan. McMillen commented, “This is our home track and one of our partners premier events. We’ll be ready.”