Racing at Home Provides Motivation for Talented Texan

October 12, 2016 -- There is no denying that in the first three races of the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship, Steve Torrence’s bid for the $500,000 Mello Yello Top Fuel title went from achievable to possible to improbable.

Nevertheless, no one competing this week at the Texas Motorplex is less intimidated by long odds than is the 33-year-old native of Kilgore who, as a teenager, survived cancer and, as recently as last June, survived a heart attack, both times returning to a life lived on the track at 330 miles per hour and off it at only a slightly slower speed.

Torrence consciously pushes the limits because, better than most, he understands that beyond the moment, nothing is guaranteed.

As a result, the seven-time Mello Yello tour winner will take his Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition dragster to the starting line at the 31st annual AAA Texas Fall Nationals just like he always does – with the sincere expectation of celebrating in the winners’ circle with teammates, family and friends.

“We’re still marching forward,” he said.  “We’re going to do the best we can to finish strong in what has been our best season as a team and my best season as a driver.”

The only difference this week is that since this is one of two NHRA races contested in his home state, there will be larger numbers of those with whom he can share such a moment including fiends from Capco, Rio and the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, a charity created in the name of the late “American Sniper” that provides support to the families of first responders and returning service personnel. 

The presence of those with whom he shares both a home and a philosophy provides an extra measure of motivation because, while he has emerged as a title contender, he hasn’t won a race in Texas since turning pro in 2006, a year after he won the Top Alcohol Dragster World Championship. 

In the vernacular of the Lone Star State, though, “he’s fixin’ to.”

In each of his last two Texas starts – last fall at the Motorplex and earlier this year at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, the NHRA national record-holder (3.671 seconds) lost in the final round.  He’s hoping the third time’s a charm.

“You can’t win anything without overcoming some adversity,” he has said.  

And when you’ve stared down the opponents he has, not even a 163-point deficit to Antron Brown is cause for concession. 

A two-time winner this season and the No. 1 qualifier at eight events, Torrence too often has been a wrong place, wrong time guy in a right place, right time sport.  He hopes to get everything back in sync this week on the all-concrete track on which he won twice during his 2005 championship campaign.

His weekend begins Friday when he takes the first step toward extending to 29 the number of consecutive tour events in which he has qualified his 10,000 horsepower dragster No. 8 or better.  That’s the longest active streak in either of the two fuel categories.


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