"Big Daddy" Mills is going Pro Mod racing. Teamed up with Pro
Mod veteran Keith Haney, Mills will debut an all-new "Golden
Gorilla" 2016 Camaro--complete with a screw-blown Hemi up
front--Jan. 29-31, during the 17th annual U.S. Street Nationals
at Bradenton Motorsports Park in south Florida.
"We were going to build another Radials vs. the World car
because at the time we started the deal the rules kind of
leaned in favor of the blower deal, but then Keith talked
to me about converting his old "Enigma" Camaro from RVW to
Pro Mod and it just seemed like the right time to make a
change and try something new," explains Mills, who won Pro
Drag Radial at the 2016 U.S. Street Nats with his original
"Golden Gorilla" '68 Camaro.
"You know, Enigma always ran on nitrous with me, but it
was built with a wheelbase to handle a twin-turbo or
Procharger or screw-blower combo, so we're excited to
see the way things go with this new screw motor," Haney
adds. "And Dewayne's always been a twin-turbo guy and I've
always been a nitrous guy, but we both wanted to try
something different this time, shake things up a bit."
Mills, who lives with wife Tara and daughter Kallee in
Sand Springs, OK, attended last year's Bradenton event
as a spectator, just days before undergoing life-saving
prostate cancer surgery.
"It actually was my third time with cancer in about five
years," he reveals. "I had a carcinoid on my appendix,
so they took it out and then they found a thyroid cancer
and took that out within six to eight months of the
appendix. So then I had to do some radiation and just
when I was healing up and getting back to business, we
had this prostate deal fire up about two years later.
So I don't know, it kind of knocked the wind out of my
sails a little bit."
Mills says he and Haney had been in talks about rebuilding
Enigma together since mid-2019, but late that year he
suggested Haney just sell the car since he was putting
his racing program on hold. Then he revealed his latest
cancer scare to Haney, just a month or so before undergoing
surgery late last January.
"That obviously bothered him, so when I was having my
surgery, Keith loaded the car up and got a blower motor
from Todd Martin and Todd put it in the car to get us started,
" Mills says. "He wanted to do this while I was healing up
because he said, 'It's going to be too easy for you to quit
racing completely if you're out of racing.' So when I got
healed up enough to do stuff, we just start tinkering with
it, trying to get it together."
Mills then suffered a further setback last August in Nebraska,
after going through a devastating, high-speed rollover crash
in the "Golden Kong" '68 Camaro that his daughter Kallee
usually drives, during filming for the popular "Street Outlaws"
TV show (Scheduled airdate: Jan. 11, 2021, 9 p.m. on Discovery).
"I was left bruised up from head to toe and fractured an elbow
that I didn't even know about," Mills says. "And it took
about two-and-a-half weeks for the world to quit spinning
and for me to stop trying to throw up. Then I went back to
work about three-and-a-half weeks after the accident."
Since that time Mills has been back to the track just once,
testing the original Golden Gorilla over Thanksgiving weekend
at Edinburg Motorsports Park in south Texas. His next outing
will probably come in the next couple of weeks at Tulsa
Motorsports Park, with just a few half-track shakedown runs
expected for his first Pro Mod driving experience.
Originally built by Jeffers Race Cars, the new ride features
an aggressive Golden Gorilla-themed wrap designed and applied
by Kryptonite Kustomz. It carries a Brandon Pesz-built engine,
with a former Q80 Racing blower bolted on top. FuelTech
provides mechanical injection and all power management, with
the resulting horsepower running through an M&M transmission
"You know, it's kind of a weird deal, not having a Proline
engine in the thing, but I ended up starting to put together
a spare motor and we bought the block and whatnot from Proline,
so it's not like I'm leaving them," Mills stresses. And with
so much experience and success on M/T drag radials, he also
is sticking with Mickey Thompson slicks for his transition
to big-tire competition.
At the track, Pesz will handle the tune-up, assisted by longtime
friend and tuner Jamie Miller, with additional help coming from
Mills' wife and daughter, plus crew members John Maguda, Brenden
Russell and John Miller.
"It's gonna' be a learning experience for all of us and I'll
probably blow it up a couple of times before we get it all figured
out, but it'll be good. I mean, it's something way different for me,
but you know, it's something I've always had the goal of doing,
" Mills says.
Following the Florida U.S. Street Nationals outing later this month,
Mills plans to mount a full-season campaign alongside Haney as Pro
Mod teammates in the 2021 Summit Racing Mid-West Drag Racing Series
(MWDRS). He assures his many loyal fans they haven't seen the last
of him on the small-tire circuit, though.
"We're definitely not giving up on the steel-bodied cars," he insists.
"We've got a new car being built for my daughter and it's gonna' be
a real nice piece. We've still got enough cars to go around, that's
-- END --
Photos: Mills_GG-side.jpg, Mills_GG-top.jpg, Mills_GG-door.jpg,
Cutline: Though shown still rolling on drag radial tires, Dewayne Mills
' new "Golden Gorilla" 2016 Camaro will be sporting massive M/T slicks
throughout this year after Mills makes his Pro Mod debut late in
January at the U.S. Street Nationals in Bradenton, FL.
ABOUT MILLS RACING:
Based in Sand Spring, OK, Mills Racing is home to Dewayne and Kallee Mills,
drag racing's favorite father-daughter duo. With support from marketing
partners Atomizer Racing Injectors, Callies, Energy Manufacturing, FuelTech,
Goodridge LTD, KHR, Kryptonite Kustomz, Menscer Motorsports, Mickey Thompson
Tires, M&M Transmission and Proline Racing, the Mills team will take on the
dual worlds of Pro Modified and Drag Radial racing this season.