AUSTIN – Kilgore’s own Steve Torrence has been a busy man in the last year, and he’s currently in season as the NHRA’s defending Top Fuel division champion.
But Torrence is going to make time to accept a special honor next week.
Torrence will be recognized next Wednesday, March 20 on the floor of the state House of Representatives for his accomplishments in professional drag racing, specifically for winning the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel championship at the wheel of his Capco Contractors dragster.
Last fall, Torrence became the 21st different driver in the 45-year history of the NHRA series to claim the sport’s ultimate title when he won all six events comprising the Countdown to the Championship, the first such sweep since the NHRA adopted the current playoff format in 2007.
En route to a championship that had eluded him in 2017, when he finished second, and 2016, when he was third, Torrence won for the first time as a pro on his home track, the Texas Motorplex outside Dallas, the same track on which he crashed at 300 miles per hour a year earlier.
The House recognition is just the latest honor for Torrence, who earlier was feted by his hometown right here in Kilgore following his championship win. In addition to his status as the first driver in any category to sweep the playoffs, he also is the first to win NHRA series championships in both the Fuel and Alcohol divisions. He was the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster champion in 2005.
Three other Texans have won the NHRA Top Fuel championship. Richard Tharp of Dallas did so in 1976, Eddie Hill of Wichita Falls was the champion in 1993 and Lubbock native Kenny Bernstein prevailed in both 1996 and 2001.
Torrence is trying this year to become just the eighth driver to win back-to-back Top Fuel championships. He and his crew are in Gainesville, Fla., this weekend for the annual Gatornationals. See a preview in Saturday’s Kilgore News Herald.