February 7, 20l9, by Kay Presto,www.carsandcompetition.com
Going into the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Championship season, Top Fuel competitor Clay Millican will definitely have his work cut out for him. This season he will start out with a whole new team.
“Everybody on this team will have to learn to dance together,” said the Drummond, Tennessee native, with his friendly grin. Even his crew chief, Mike Kloker, is new to the team, but Millican feels confident that he will be competitive again this year. Parts Plus is still his co-sponsor, and he now has Strutmasters to partner his team.
The way he puts it, “I have no other business, no other job; my entire life is dedicated to racing, and I want to win the championship this year.”
Millican has been competing in drag racing since 1998, when he earned his Top Fuel dragster license and made his IHRA debut In a Chicago White Sox-sponsored dragster at that inaugural event in Chicago. Since that race, he has dedicated himself to the sport he loves, and it is showing.
In 2018, he earned his second and third career victories. He finished third in points –– his highest career NHRA finish — and reset the NHRA national e.t. record with a 3.628-second pass.
Though upbeat In nature, Millican has also learned to deal with tragedy. His young son. Dalton, was killed in a single-person motorcycle crash in 2015.
He and his wife Donna took on that tragedy by donating a a UNOH scholarship at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals several years ago, in Dalton’s name.
Based on the yearly income of the scholarship fund, up to two scholarships may be awarded each year. The UNOH scholarship will award deserving students $2,500 to apply to their full academic year cost. The yearly scholarship is open to incoming freshman and current students in the program.
Once that scholarship was established, Millican joined his former drag racing rival Doug Herbert, in Herbert’s B.R.A.K.E.S safe-driving program which Herbert established when he lost his own two sons in a tragic road accident.
‘I truly enjoy teaching and hosting at Doug’s B.R.A.K.E.S. school in Memphis,” Millican said. “Dalton was very skilled as a driver and rider, but he still lost his life, so teaching students the skills to save theirs is very rewarding to me.”
Millican also enjoys engaging with hospitals and churches in n teaching safe driving.
Regarding the cool weather for the opening NHRA competition in Pomona, California this weekend, Millican feels that unusually cool weather will be great for the motors, and the speeds will be high. ”The amount of oxygen for our engines will be the biggest challenge,” he said. He enjoys competing at the Pomona dragstrip, the only dragstrip on the NHRA circuit that runs downhill.
He’s not only looking forward to setting new national e.t. records there, but he definitely has his eye set on winning the NHRA Top Fuel Drag Racing Championship this season, even though his team will have to perfect the full details of engine tear-downs between rounds.They will be working off their recent four=day test results at the Wildhorse Pass dragstrip in Phoenix, Arizona.
“It’s like a ballet to achieve all the fine details of what has to be done in those tear-downs and setting up my Top Fuel mount for great passes down that dragstrip,” said Millican. With full confidence in his voice, he added, “but my team is definitely up to it.”