Terry McMillen’s top fuel dragster “Xtermigator” completely obliterated itself about four seconds into a race at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag race in Houston last week. Watching it up close is equal parts beautiful and terrifying.
Amazingly, what McMillen’s team has called possibly “the biggest explosion in NHRA Top Fuel drag racing in over a decade” didn’t hurt anybody. After the car blew its engine right off the frame and slammed itself into the wall, McMillen walked away.
After thanking his competitors and team for the help they rendered, McMillen had this to say to explain the incident:
“The NHRA came down and we all evaluated the run on the computer and inspected the parts,” McMillen said. “I can tell you this, except for the blower getting away from the car, everything worked exactly as it should have. We looked at the run and there was nothing wrong with Rob Wendland’s tune up. We put a hole out, but the engine didn’t see any excessive pan pressure or blower pressure. We have devices on our car to shut it off if those events occur. Something just broke in the rocker assembly. Rob and the guys are doing a great job in keeping up with the parts. We looked at the valves and none of them had more than four runs on them. Goodyear was down there looking at the tires, Weld looking at their wheels, Schumacher at his chassis – everything did what it was suppose to do from that standpoint. If the blower doesn’t get into the tire, this is an oildown at best.”
Check out the the whole race right here:
Photographer Mark J Rebilas got some amazing still images of the destruction as well.
As for the Xtermigator, it was brand new as of February 2016. “If you think about it, an instigator is someone who wants to start something with the competition, while an exterminator wants to eliminate it,” McMillen said in a press release when the car debuted. “That’s what we’re about: engaging with and ultimately exterminating the competition.”
After being properly bent in Houston, the car’s already dialed back in and ready to race again in Atlanta thanks to the tireless work of McMillen’s support team.
Hopefully the “Xtermigator 2.0” has that nasty exploding issue worked out and will give McMillen a better shot at finishing pass next time! Meanwhile, thanks for putting on a hell of a show in Houston, Terry! We’re glad you’re not missing a beat getting back in the pilot’s seat.