This has been the busiest off season that I have experienced by far. Our team is in that gray area where we need more help to get everything done, but we can’t afford to hire any more full timers, so I have been taking on the role of two or three people here at the shop, focusing mostly on the marketing side of things. I have also made a vow to keep up with my blogs. Last year, I didn’t do such a great job, but it is a new season and I am improving our program in many different areas, including the time I spend blogging!
Over the off season, I decided to make some changes to my program. As happy as Amalie Oil, University of Northwestern Ohio and the rest of my marketing partners are with what we are accomplishing for them, I want to be more competitive and I think the changes we are making will assist in that. For starters, we sent our car off to McKinney’s to get a new front half put on. While they were doing that they made modifications near the driver’s compartment/windshield area which should help with aerodynamics. The car wasn’t ready to go testing in West Palm Beach with the other teams, but we will be testing before we arrive in Pomona. I also decided to upgrade to the newer cylinder heads, and have updated our supercharger program. I have a couple new crew members, and my crew chief Richard Hartman is spending more time with the car than ever before. In fact, he picked it up from McKinney and took it straight to his shop, so I have yet to see it in person. The combination of changes we made, I believe will help us run more consistent and competitive, and I am looking forward to getting in the car this season, though I still don’t know how easy it will be with the new design….I may need a step stool!
The gator theme dragster will be back, with an updated version of the gator. I can’t wait to see the wrap on the car. Michelle and Gonzalo from Amalie Oil have been working so hard to get it done, and from what I have seen it is going to be pretty cool. Basically it will be the same look, but the teeth of the gator are more vicious and visible.
We also have a new Terry McMillen Racing logo. Mandy who works at UNOH helped us with that. She designed it and we liked it! I can’t thank her enough for working on this! We have seen it embroidered and it looks great!
I have a lot to get done before we hit the road this season, but I promise to keep you all more informed on what I have going on. For updates in between blogs “like” my Facebook page facebook.com/terrymcmillenracing or follow me on Twitter and I’ll follow you back @terrymcmillen.
I can’t begin to explain how nice it was to have a couple of weeks off in between Reading and Vegas. I love racing and being on the road, but the small break was just what I needed to relax, unwind, and get ready for the non-stop couple weeks I have coming up.
On the way to Vegas we are stopping in Clearfield, Utah, at Redds Quick Lube for a display with the car. They were one of the very first Amalie Oil Quick Lubes, so we are excited to show our thanks to them and their customers for being the pioneers in a venture that Amalie is going to continue to grow. We will be there on Tuesday the 23rd from 11 to 3, so if you happen to be in the area stop by and say hello!
From there we will head straight to Tahiti Village in Las Vegas, which we will call home while we are racing and attending the SEMA show. If you have never been to Tahiti Village, I would recommend visiting them at least once. They are time shares located at the south end of the strip near the airport on Las Vegas Blvd. It isn’t a casino, but they have a free shuttle that will take you to the strip or even downtown to Freemont Street, which sure beats paying for a cab! My personal favorite thing about Tahiti Village is the lazy river. Check out photos here: http://www.tahitivillage.com/Tahiti-Village-Lazy-River-Information.aspx. Even though this is a time share resort, you can still book a room like you would at any other hotel.
On Wednesday, we will be there with the car from 10 to 1. If you are in Vegas, come by and say hello. If you aren’t in Vegas, we will be conducting a Google hangout, which you can watch by going to my YouTube page. When we are broadcasting it will show in the “feed” and you can click on the video to watch! They will be giving away 4 tickets to the race this weekend, along with a 2 night stay to their place. You will have to get on the hangout for details.
The next stop we make will be at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is always an exciting race, because so many of our marketing partners will be there. I am looking forward to seeing everyone, and coming off a race in which we ran a career-best number, I am looking forward to seeing how the car does. We will also continue to run the pink car for breast cancer awareness. On November 1st we will begin to auction off the jerseys through my website terrymcmillen.com. If you have a moment, visit my YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/terrymcmillenracing, to watch the videos that Cori made advertising the auction. The one titled “From Our Runway” shows you how great of sports the guys on the team are.
Make sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter @terrymcmillen for updates in between blogs. Thanks for reading and I’ll write again soon!
If you followed the team last year, you probably remember the pink dragster that I drove during the month of October and the pink crew jerseys that my team wore to show our support of breast cancer awareness. We auctioned off our crew jerseys to raise money for SHE4Life, an organization that helps breast cancer patients and their families with financial obligations that come with a cancer diagnosis.
Last year we also paid tribute to several people that our friends, family, and marketing partners knew that had battled cancer by placing the name of the individual on the car. This year we are allowing the public to honor a loved one. By making a 50.00 donation to SHE4Life, we will either place your name or the name of someone that you would like to honor on our car for the month of October. Here is the link to make the donation: http://www.she4life.com/cart/viewCategory.cfm?cat=12
All donors will be entered into a drawing in which one will win a limited edition 2012 pink crew jersey. I want to fill my car with names, and I really want to help SHE4Life. Jodi Kramer founder of SHE4Life has done more for our team than I can explain, and helping her with her organization, which is still very new, is important to me and my crew.
This weekend is the big DRAW auction. If you haven’t heard of DRAW, they are a non-profit that provides financial support for injured racers and crew members. I have personally witness how they have helped a good friend of mine Ryan (the guy who was injured in the wheel standing accident in June). Last year I donated a pink helmet for the auction and it ultimately raised 35,000.00 which was awesome. This year we are donating a die cast pink dragster that my friend Jim Ledbetter made and the only pink crew jersey that we had left from last year. I am hoping that those items will be able to raise a good amount of money too.
So needless to say pink is our new green, but just for the month of October. Hopefully when we roll the car out in Reading it will be covered in names. Look for pictures or follow me in between blogs on facebook.com/terrymcmillenracing or on twitter @terrymcmillen!
My crew chief Richard Hartman couldn’t have picked a better line from a song to sing, when he started singing “You gotta have faith a faith a faith” from the song Faith by George Michaels, as we sat in the staging lanes during the pre-race ceremony in Sonoma. Interestingly enough, the walkie talkie provides an echo similar to singing in the shower, and he didn’t sound half bad!
It is no secret that my team has been struggling with performance lately, and it is starting to beat up on me pretty bad. Most people assume that I became a drag racer because I liked to drive fast. That may have played a part in my initial interest in the sport, but it is the love of competition, mixed with my desire to over deliver, that inspired me to pursue this profession. I have worked my butt off and am proud to say that I am one of 14 people in the United State that race a Top Fuel dragster full time on the NHRA circuit. I have figured out how to be competitive and successful with my marketing partners, which is why I have faith that I will figure out how to be competitive and successful on the track.
People are quick to give advice on what changes I should make to become more competitive. I listen to most suggestions, but the reality is that I am running this operation on a lot less money than probably any other full time Top Fuel team out there and most suggestions that I get require more money. I wish I had the funds to pay Richard Hartman the salary that FULL TIME crew chiefs make. He would be able to spend every day with the car (at and away from the track), which would make it a lot easier for him to tune. Instead Richard owns and operates his machine shop full time and his part time job is tuning my car! This is the case for most of my crew members too. Another obstacle we face is not having the luxury to retire our parts just because we think they have too many runs on them. I have to run our parts until they have no life left in them. In some cases I will then replace them with brand new parts, and other times I will buy some of the bigger teams used parts. These are just a few examples of how I have learned to work with in the means that I have.
Fortunately for me the financial obstacles do not prevent me from delivering to my marketing partners. I was overwhelmed upon returning from the Western Swing to see the commercial we filmed for Elkhart General Hospital was running on the local stations. Here is a link if you feel like watching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhS6dAk9t64&feature=plcp! I also get to see my friends who just happen to be amaliestore.com customers at OK Tire and Bait tomorrow when we display the car for their customer appreciation day. Then this weekend, the team will have and extra hand when Ben, our UNOH intern joins us again. It’s always cool to catch up with him and see what he is learning in school. Last time we talked he had just learned how to tint windows.
So yes despite the frustrating performance the car has been having, there are other areas of this operation that have been quite successful. With a little faith and a lot of hard work, this team will be able to figure out how to run more competitive. I am hoping it happens sooner rather than later.
I know as fans you only see what happens on the track, which lately hasn’t been good. I just hope you haven’t given up on me yet, because I am not giving up anytime soon. Follow me in between blogs by “liking” my Facebook page or @terrymcmillen on Twitter.