Johnson, Beckman will race on with Make-A-Wish, Infinite Hero this weekend in Route 66 Nationals to honor memory of Terry Chandler

You are currently viewing Johnson, Beckman will race on with Make-A-Wish, Infinite Hero this weekend in Route 66 Nationals to honor memory of Terry Chandler

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 5, 2017) – Don Schumacher Racing and especially its Make-A-Wish and Infinite Hero Foundation Funny Car teams prepare for this weekend’s NHRA Route 66 Nationals near Chicago with heavy hearts.

On Tuesday afternoon, they lost their spiritual leader.

Terry Chandler, a native of New Mexico, lost her valiant fight with brain cancer on Tuesday afternoon. She was 65 when she died in Florida with family and loved ones at her side.

She missed the NHRA Mello Yello Series event at Las Vegas in early April and a few days later underwent major surgery to partially remove one of three tumors in the front lobe of her brain. It was determined by an MRI that she was suffering from Glioblastoma cancer.

She was immersed in the fight of her life and battled valiantly to the end.

Terry Chandler’s commitment to helping others has left an indelible mark on the National Hot Rod Association and DSR, and her memorable presence at racetracks with her Make-A-Wish families and the Infinite Hero Foundation benefactors will continue to live on in the hearts of thousands.

“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.

“I’ve been reading so many (social media) posts about Terry and how special she was that it makes my heart smile,” said Tommy Johnson Jr., driver of the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T for DSR since its inception in 2014

“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. She loved seeing the faces of those kids light up and made such a difference in so many lives. RIP Sweet Aunt Terry.”

She began attending NHRA national events when her brother, Johnny Gray, drove a Funny Car for DSR. In 2013, Terry and Johnny decided to fund the car he drove as a tribute to their late father, John R. Gray, a self-made man who rose to legendary status in the New Mexico and north Texas oil industry.

Upon Johnny’s retirement from driving at the end of that season, Terry began funding the team and put Johnson in the seat. Terry and her husband, Doug, own and operate Chandler Aviation at the Cavern City Air Terminal in Carlsbad, N.M. Instead of flying the colors of Chandler Aviation on Johnson’s Dodge Charger, she chose to use the racecar as a platform to promote awareness for a great cause. The car was painted and the transporters were wrapped with a striking Make-A-Wish design.

She wanted her racecar to be a “giving car.”

Chandler and DSR host “Wish Kids” and their families in a VIP hospitality pavilion next to the race team’s pit area on Saturdays at each of the 24 Mello Yello events held in 21 markets across the country. The Make-A-Wish crew has the opportunity to engage with the children, giving them a tour of the pit area and racecar.

Toward the end of the 2014 season, another DSR team appeared close to be dissolving when the woman with the infectious smile stepped in to fund the one driven by Jack Beckman and donated its branding to the Infinite Hero Foundation, a non-profit organization that combats the most difficult front line issues by providing grants to help the physical and psychological challenges faced by returning military veterans.

More than $300,000 has been raised by the sale of “challenge coins” Beckman carries on each run and exchanges for a $100 donation to Infinite Hero. Nearly $500,000 has been raised for the organization through Terry’s efforts.

“What she has done and is doing is unbelievable, unbelievable,” Beckman has said numerous times. “If you want to look at this way, she’s also keeping 20 people employed that otherwise might not have jobs.

“The more she learned about the Infinite Hero Foundation she’d say we can’t do everything but let’s do something. She’s such a softie.”

Johnson adds, “There’s a lot to be said for paying it forward. She’s allowing us to use our cars for a great cause.”

Chandler would be proud of the way her two teams will arrive at Route 66 to start the second half of the 24-race season. They were among the strongest in NHRA Mello Yello competition during the rigorous month of June that featured four events in four weeks.

Beckman and the Infinite Hero team led by crew chiefs Dean Antonelli, John Medlen and Neal Strausbaugh return to Route 66 to defend the title they won a year ago. They’ll arrive with momentum after winning two of the last three events in which they advanced to the final round each time. They won the last race at Norwalk, Ohio, 10 days ago and moved up to third in championship points.

Johnson, who won the Route 66 title in 2015, and the team led by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds have steadily improved and advanced to three semifinals in June to move up to fifth in the standings.

A private funeral service will be held with a public memorial tentatively set for over Labor Day Weekend near Indianapolis during the NHRA U.S. Nationals.

JACK BECKMAN, Terry Chandler’s Infinite Hero Foundation 2017 Dodge Charger R/T – won 2 of last 3
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 3rd 12 2 2 2 4 2 0 0 21-10
CAREER 264 26 27 47 77 80 21 7 353-231
Best Time, Speed: 3.825 sec., (2016 Pomona 2); 334.15 mph (Seattle 2016)
Last event (June 15), Norwalk, Ohio: Qualified No. 9, won in championship round over Robert Hight
A year ago at Chicago: Qualified No. 2, won in championship round over Ron Capps
Career at Chicago: Wins 1 (2016); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 5th 12 1 0 5 2 4 1 0 16-11
CAREER 10 16* 24 58 100 168 15 44 352-350
* 14 FC/2 TF
Best Time, Speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 330.80 mph (Seattle, 2016)

Last event (June 15), Norwalk, Ohio: Qualified No. 5, lost in semifinals to Jack Beckman
A year ago at Chicago: Qualified No. 8, lost in second round to Matt Hagan
Career at Chicago: Wins 1 (2015); Runner-ups 2 (2014, 2003); Poles 2 (2014, 2006)

(Official after Norwalk, Ohio; 12th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)

1. RON CAPPS (5) 1,095 —–
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 946 -149
3. JACK BECKMAN (2) 855 -240
4. Robert Hight 809 -286
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 739 -356
6. Courtney Force 714 -381
7. John Force (1) 683 -412
8. Tim Wilkerson 525 -570
9. J.R. Todd 508 -587
10. Cruz Pedregon 431 -664