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.”
Milan, MI – Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil sponsored Funny Car, powered by eRaceFuels made a quarter-final appearance in the 3rd Annual Dukes of Hazzard Motor City Nationals. With summer’s unpredictable weather, the Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team fought hard to find the right combination to get the Hemi powered entry quickly down the Motor City quarter mile.
Crew-chiefs were challenged to find a set up that would work with Mother Natures moods. Quick moving patches of clouds and rain would be followed by periods of hot sun and high humidity. “My crew did a great job,” commented McMillen. “Our times were consistent all weekend long. We just couldn’t find that tenth of a second we needed.”
McMillen piloted the InstiGator to the number eight qualifying position on his best run of the weekend (5.983 ET) which saw the car slow through the traps after losing the blower belt with a top speed of 218.94 MPH. “We looked at our incremental times after that pass,” explained co-crew chief Brent “Skinny” Lidgard. “That would have been a pass in the .80’s.”
The end of qualifying set up the showdown between McMillen and London Ontario’s two-time IHRA Funny Car Champion and current points leader, Rob Atchison. McMillen continued his season long dominance of the tree with a reaction time of 0.046 against Atchison’s 0.090. McMillen’s hole shot wouldn’t be enough to overcome Atchison’s machine. Atchison would go on to claim the title for the Motor City Nationals.
Co-crew chief Tad “TV” Heflick reflected after the match with Atchison, “We torched a head and banged the #2 cylinder pretty hard, but we were toe-to-toe with Rob through the 1/8 mile.” The Hoosier Thunder team will be testing this Saturday in Martin, MI at the US 131 Motorsports Park Bar’s Leaks Funny Car Nationals. “Not only is this a great event,” commented McMillen, “it’s a great opportunity for us to dial in our summer tune-up before the eRaceFuels Northern Nationals here at US 131 Motorsports Park.”
McMillen would like to thank the partners of the Hoosier Thunder Motorsports, InstiGator team which include Amalie Oil, eRaceFuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams.
The seventh stop on the Hooters IHRA Drag Racing series is the 4th Annual ACDelco Canadian Nationals, contested at the Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga, Ontario July 29-31.
Grand Bend, ONT- As summer sets in and the weather heats up, so does the race for points towards the 2005 IHRA Funny Car Championship. The 6th Annual Mopar Canadian Nationals proved to be as hot as the summer for the Amalie Oil InstiGator, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels.
Although Grand Bend Canada usually enjoys temperatures in the mid to low 70s, during the race teams were challenged to work with temperatures nearing 100 degrees and with a corrected altitude exceeding 4000 feet.
Terry Mc Millen, pilot of the 1999 Dodge Avenger, narrowed the points margin by defeating the defending world champion, Rob Atchison in the first round. Mc Millen’s semi-final appearance, coupled with a Mark Thomas first round loss to Jim Sickles tightens up the points race for the top four drivers leaving Mc Millen, Thomas, Sickles and Atchison within roughly 2 elimination rounds of each other. “This is one of the closest points races I can remember after 4 events”, Mc Millen recalled. “With less than 50 points between us, you can bank on the IHRA funny car class being a battle to the end.”
During elimination rounds the InstiGator car was equipped with a SPEED TV “in-car camera” to catch all of the action. The show featuring Mc Millen and his InstiGator will air on August 13th and again on August 15th at 4PM and 5PM respectively.
“Anytime that we get an opportunity to do these types of special projects – we jump at the chance,” explained Mc Millen. “The fans love seeing what goes on inside the Amalie Oil InstiGator during the race. Of course our sponsors love the attention it brings to the team. We’ve got the best partners in the business. When you talk about quality, everyone thinks of Amalie Oil, TORCO Racing Fuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams.
The next race in the IHRA Hooters Drag Racing series is the 3rd Annual Western RV Nationals presented by TORCO Racing Fuels. Mc Millen had an outstanding race at the 2004 event, finishing in the runner up position with a final round appearance. “We have always run well in Edmonton! We hope to continue that string,” exclaimed Mc Millen. “Track owners, Rob and Kim Reeves have spent many hours re-doing the track surface and facilities. We would like nothing more than to put the Amalie Oil InstiGator powered be TORCO race fuels in the winners circle. Evan Knoll President of Torco is keeping the hair clippers by his side.” When Terry wins, Knoll is providing a free hair cut, which is part of a year long standing bet.
Western RV will join the InstiGator marketing team in Edmonton again this year. “Western RV is the title sponsor for the Rocky Mountain Nationals, we’re proud to be associated with them,” stated InstiGator Marketing Director Jim Walczak. “Not only is Western RV Canada’s largest RV Dealer, they’re also number 1 in fun and they enjoy providing a way for families to make memories.” Mc Millen added, “We worked with Craig Amstead last year and we both enjoyed tremendous success. We have the time of our lives when we’re in Edmonton with the Western RV family.”
The 3rd Annual Western RV Rocky Mountain Nationals will be contested June 24-26 at Budweiser Motorsports Park in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
For more information visit:
Budweiser Motorsports Park
Richmond, VA – Terry McMillen and the Amalie Oil InstiGator, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, growled back into the IHRA Funny Car points race at the Virginia Motorsports Park. The event marked the second time in three races that the team has made a final round appearance. The InstiGator team leaves Virginia third place in IHRA points.
“It was a great week for our team,” exclaimed an excited McMillen. “Anytime that you get a chance to go rounds, it’s a good thing. It’s good for us, it’s great for our sponsors.” The week leading into the 5th Annual AC Delco Nationals kept the team very busy. An appearance at West Mifflin, PAâ€™s Clara Barton Elementary School began the week as McMillen was the featured speaker at the schoolâ€™s anti-drug assembly.
McMillen also completed a television spot for Hotrodnewz TV that will air later in June on Fox Sports Net.
The Amalie Oil InistiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels was honored to appear on a poster inserted into a special edition of Saturday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Times-Dispatch also included coverage of the InstiGator on Sunday’s front page (The paper has a Sunday circulation of more than 225,000). “We’ve got some of the best partners in the racing industry. Our job is to bring exposure to all of our quality partners, including Amalie Oil, TORCO Racing Fuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams,” said McMillen.
The Gator Growls
The race started Friday afternoon as team InstiGator made it’s first qualifying attempt. “We set the car up little soft for the first pass,” explained Co-Crew Chief Brent “Skinny” Lidgard. Our goal was to get a down the track with a good ET and not hurt the car.” The InstiGator posted a 6.163 ET which would qualified the team in the 9th position, but not good enough to make the new eight car field.
The second qualifying attempt provided a brief bit of excitement, but ultimately proved uneventful. After the car launched, a quick release mechanism malfunctioned, allowing the steering wheel to remain in McMillen’s hands, unattached to the car. “Needless to say that will get your attention,” stated a surprised McMillen. “It’s never happened to me before, but other drivers shared their experiences with me. I’m just thankful that we were able to keep the car off of the wall and out of the other lane.”
The Amalie Oil InstiGator would have a final attempt Saturday morning to make the event where 19 other Funny Car teams would fight for one of the eight available spots.
“The gloves were off,” stated Co-Crew Chief Tad “TV” Heflick. “We had one chance left and we weren’t going home early!” The final qualifying attempt paired McMillen against two-time Funny Car Champion Rob Atchison. McMillen took a hole shot and turned on the win light, placing the Amalie Oil InstiGator team solidly in the field in the second position with a 5.864 ET at 240.21 MPH. “While it wasn’t an elimination round, it felt good to get a win light against Atchison and more importantly to get a number 2 qualifying spot,” said McMillen. “My crew chief’s, Skinny and TV Tad, haven’t had a day off in a while. Our whole team including Rhonda, Carrie “CareBear”, TV Dad, Charlie, Jim and Zak did a great job. Our team is coming together and our team work is getting better. We know hard work pays off.”
McMillen eliminated 5-time World Champion Mark Thomas and Jim Sickles to make it to the final round for a rematch of the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals finals against 2-time World Champion Rob Atchison. McMillen registered phenomenal reaction times all through eliminations (.023, .019, .037), but even a hole shot against Rob Atchison could not change the final outcome. “We’re still chasing that elusive Iron Man. If we keep putting ourselves in the path of opportunity like this, we’ll get our Iron Man. Right now we’re concentrating on consistency and working towards the championship,” said McMillen. “We’re in a good spot, it’s only getting better from here.”
San Antonio, TX – Terry Mc Millen and the Amalie Oil InstiGator proved that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Powered by Torco Race Fuels, the team raced to a final round appearance against two time IHRA Funny Car Champion Rob Atchison and was awarded “Best Appearing Pro Crew” by the IHRA during the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals. The team leaves San Antonio just 7 points out of first place.
Mc Millen began his season opening quest for his first Iron Man from the #4 qualifying position with a 5.944 ET at 235.93 MPH performance. “That was good enough to get us in the show, but we knew we had to get better to continue,” stated Mc Millen. Mc Millen put out the call to his Co-Crew Chiefs Brent “Skinny” Lidgard and Tad “TV” Heflick to tune the machine for eliminations. With the help of crewmembers Dale “TV Dad” Heflick and Jim Walczak the team prepared the car for a first round appearance against the #5 qualifier Terry Munroe.