Doug Chandler to continue late wife's sponsorship of two Funny Cars
When philanthropist and effervescent drag racing supporter Terry Chandler, 65, died from advanced brain cancer on July 4th, the future of her “giving cars” in NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ Funny Car category was in doubt.
Chandler, sister of former Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Funny Car driver Johnny Gray, aunt to Shane Gray and great-aunt to rookie Tanner Gray, both of whom race Pro Stock, was bankrolling two Dodge Charger R/T DSR Funny Car entries, the Make-A-Wish flopper of Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Infinite Hero Charger for Jack Beckman.
Now we know her largesse and her commitment to help these two great causes will continue through the 2020 NHRA season. Chandler’s husband of 49 years, Doug, has decided to honor his late wife’s legacy through these two cars.
“Terry loved her teams and I saw how much she looked forward to going to the races and helping the children of Make-A-Wish and our soldier heroes who gave more than anyone could have asked and were helped by Infinite Hero when they came home,” Doug Chandler explained. “Terry lives on in so many peoples’ hearts and mine. I don’t want to see her dream end.”
Terry Chandler’s commitment to giving back through DSR sponsorship began in 2013 when she used Johnson’s team to promote Riley Hospital for Children’s Riley Kids program. This occurred during the biggest drag race of the NHRA season: the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, a Labor Day weekend tradition outside Indianapolis. Chandler’s tradition of supporting this local charity continues this year with Johnson’s car.
Chandler began funding the two DSR teams once her brother retired from driving after the 2013 season; the relationship began in earnest in 2014 through her donation of branding space to both foundations, Make-A-Wish and Infinite Hero with the two racecars. Terry Chandler personally brought ailing children and recovering veterans to the racetrack so they could experience the joy of seeing “their cars” winning rounds, races and setting records. And get away from their troubles.
Both drivers are in the thick of this year’s title fight, with Beckman’s Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T in fourth place (2 wins) and Johnson’s Make-A-Wish Charger lying fifth (1 win), as only two races remain in the “regular” season. Both drivers have qualified for the Countdown to the Championship six-race playoffs beginning after the U.S. Nationals, that will crown the champion in Funny Car at the season finale in Pomona, Calif. November 9-12.
Terry Chandler’s generosity was so great that she was presented NHRA’s Blaine Johnson award in 2015, given for her overwhelming dedication to helping others. Racers and fans alike could look forward to seeing her on the start line when her “giving cars” were racing; she also lined up for Pro Stock competition when Shane and Tanner Gray were competing.
“Terry is such an incredible lady,” said Don Schumacher, DSR owner and a close friend of Doug and Terry Chandler. “We’ll never know how many lives she impacted and how many will continue to be helped with Doug continuing what she started. We miss her every day, but we’ll never forget her smile and her big heart.
“Doug could have walked away from NHRA drag racing and it wouldn’t have done anything to lessen Terry’s legacy,” he continued. “His decision to continue what she started for the next several years shows his love and admiration for what she accomplished. Everyone at DSR couldn’t be prouder of how Terry and Doug will continue to be part of our sport and help countless people over, at least, the next three years.”
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