Race Weekend Central

Nitro Shots: Godspeed, Good Lady

Sad news came from the world of NHRA on Tuesday, as word was given that Terry Chandler, sister of retired driver Johnny Gray and benefactor of the Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car teams of Tommy Johnson, Jr. and Jack Beckman, passed away from brain cancer. Drag racing really is a family sport and many in her racing family were deeply saddened by this news. I’m sorry I never got to meet her since I’ve only ever heard wonderful things about her.

It wasn’t hard to see those things either. She funded those two cars more because she loved the sport than anything else. She didn’t choose to advertise her own business interests on them, so there was no personal gain, at least not in the financial sense. There was of course the gain of seeing her teams and her cars go out there and win but there was something even more special for her.

Terry Chandler (photo courtesy of Don Schumacher Racing)

She chose instead to use the space on those cars to help out two charities she cared about: Make-A-Wish and Infinite Hero. Neither organization put a dime into those cars but they got to enjoy the benefit of the exposure and the added opportunities they presented to raise money for sick children and veterans. That amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as many wishes granted as Terry and the team hosted Make-A-Wish kids at each race.

“Although we only knew her a few years, it felt like it was forever and she made us feel like her family. ‘Aunt’ Terry always called our team ‘her boys’ and told all of the Make-A-Wish kids that it was ‘their’ racecar on the track, not hers,” said Make-A-Wish driver Tommy Johnson, Jr. “She loved seeing the faces of those kids light up and made such a difference in so many lives. RIP Sweet Aunt Terry.”

“Terry is a great human being who devoted the past few years to helping the Make-A-Wish and Infinite Hero foundations with her love and kindness by funding two of our Funny Car teams,” said Don Schumacher, DSR owner and close friend.

Both cars will race on this weekend carrying the colors of Make-A-Wish and Infinite Hero in Terry Chandler’s honor, but not having their benefactor at the track, greeting Make-A-Wish kids and cheering them on from the starting line, will most certainly leave a hole that can’t be filled.

Driver Profile: Tommy Johnson, Jr.

Category: Funny Car
Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa
Date of birth: April 6, 1968
2017 car: Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins
Team Owner: Don Schumacher

Career Highlights:
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 16/24
Best points finish: 2nd in 2016
Career best ET: 3.837, Phoenix, 2017
Career best speed: 331.61, Topeka, 2017

2016 – Career best points finish of second; won three races; No. 1 qualifier at Charlotte 2.

2015 – Won at Chicago and Seattle; six runner-up finishes; three-time No. 1 qualifier.

2014 – Returned to full-time competition for the first time in six years with Don Schumacher Racing’s fourth car, an effort sponsored by Terry Chandler in support of Make-A-Wish; won at Bristol; No. 1 qualifier at Chicago finished a career-high third in points.

2008 – Finished 18th in points in last full season in Funny Car.

2007 – Was No. 1 qualifier and race winner to sweep the weekend at Englishtown.

2005 – Won season opening race and finished sixth in Funny Car points.

2002 – Made four final round appearances.

1999 – Joined Joe Gibbs’ Funny Car team and won first Funny Car event at Reading.

1995 – Best Top Fuel points finish of eighth in his final full season in Top Fuel.

1993 – Scored first professional victory at Seattle in Top Fuel; finished top ten in season points for the first time.

Follow Tommy: @TommyJohnson_Jr on Twitter, Tommy Johnson Jr. on Facebook, @tommyjohnson_jr on Instagram.

Hey Ya’ll, Watch This:

What kind of things did Terry Chandler make happen? This video from Charlotte in April explains it pretty well. Nine-year-old Christopher told Make-A-Wish Foundation his dream was to ride a Pro Stock Motorcycle and Chandler made that happen with a little help from Angelle Sampey. She also saw to it that he was properly outfitted with a full set of leathers and helmet for the experience. She made wishes like these possible.


QualifyingFriday, November 10, 6:30 PM ETFS1 (Live)
QualifyingSaturday, November 11, 6:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)
EliminationsSunday, November 12, 4:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)

About the author

A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning former writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni works in web design and freelances with writing in North Carolina.

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