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Terry Chandler 1952-2017
Pat Garlits Memorial Award
Terry Chandler grew up in an oil field family in southeastern New Mexico, since her late father, John R Gray owned Marbob Energy. As a young adult one of her interest included watching her younger brother, Johnny Gray, race cars. As she grew older Terry developed a special interest for children in need and for our military veterans. Fortunately, Terry found a way to combine her love of racing and helping people while having a lot of fun doing it.
Terry’s interest in drag racing started early as a result of her younger brother, Johnny, being involved with racing. Johnny was involved in many forms of racing including NHRA pro stock and eventually funny car racing. In the early years Terry would go along with Johnny; you could find her selling T-shirts at the local tracks and helping prepare Johnny’s car for a run. These were the days of budget racing.
As Johnny moved up in the pro funny car ranks standings Terry continue to be her brother’s biggest fan attending most of his races. As they grew older and their financial status change from the early days of racing on a budget; Terry and Johnny decided to honor their late father by co-sponsoring the Pitch Energy funny car driven by Johnny. The car had the image of their father for Johnny’s last year of racing. With his retirement looming and recognizing his sisters love of NHRA racing Johnny suggested she consider sponsoring a funny car team herself.
While Terry could have chosen to do many different things with her resources Terry accepted her brother suggestion. She decided that if she were to sponsor a car it would be as she called it, “a giving car”. Teaming with Don Schumacher racing Terry began by backing the Make-A-Wish funny car driven by Tommy Johnson Jr. who assumed Johnny seat. A year later the opportunity arose to sponsor a second car driven by World Champion Jack Beckman; the Infinite Hero funny car. Both organizations are nonprofits and rely upon contributions for support. Terry provided both of these charities with a tremendous amount of exposure from the 330 MPH billboards. With Tommy Johnson in the driver seat the Make-A-Wish car has notched eight wins and Jack Beckman Infinite Hero Foundation team has appeared in the winner’s circle 11 times.
Through her sponsorship with Make-A-Wish and the Infinite Hero organizations Terry was able to make the dreams of children with terminal illnesses and wounded soldiers come true. Terry arranged for these individuals to not only come to the drag races but to be a part of the teams (giving them access not only to the pits but also the team areas including standing at the starting line). Terry also yearly- during the NHRA US Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana- provided her time, funding, and support to the Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana.
Perhaps Terry’s greatest joy was standing at the starting line cheering on her teams (including the pro-stock cars of nephew Shane Gray and his son Tanner). Her passing in 2017 has left a very large vacancy at the starting line and emptiness in the hearts of both racers and spectators.