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Billy Torrence to Compete Full-Time in Top Fuel for 2024 Season

Mark Rebilas photo

Say goodbye to drag racing’s most successful part-time professional and say hello to its newest full-time contender.

Billy Torrence, the founder and CEO of CAPCO Contractors, Inc., and father of four-time Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence confirmed Monday that, after competing in only eight events over the last two seasons, he will race the entire Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series in 2024 at the wheel of a second CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota.

His full-time presence as teammate to his 54-time tour-winning son speaks to the fact that there apparently is no age limit on our collective “need for speed.”

Already the oldest Top Fuel winner in history, a distinction he earned three years ago when he won the Pep Boys Nationals at Reading, Pa., the elder Torrence has finished as high as third in season points (2020) and has three top-five finishes on his résumé despite the fact that he has never run the full circuit.

His Top Fuel career dates only to 2013, even though he has been racing since the 1980s, primarily in Super Comp and Super Gas. In fact, he was racing locally at East Texas tracks 15 years before he founded CAPCO, the family’s international pipeline construction business.

The NHRA South Central Division Super Comp Champion in 1999, he has a pair of national Super Comp wins to his credit in five final round appearances, last winning at Atlanta, Ga., in 2016.

His pro career actually began as something of an afterthought. When he first climbed into the cockpit of an 11,000-horsepower race car, it was simply to help collect data that could be used by his son’s team in its bid to win a championship.  

Nevertheless, he proved to be a natural thanks in no small part to his experience in sportsman racing and to Steve’s instruction, a reversal of the roles they played when the younger Torrence was beginning his own racing career.

After making 20 Top Fuel starts in three seasons, twice advancing to the semifinals, the demands of business kept him out of the cockpit entirely in 2016 and 2017. He returned in 2018 with a renewed vigor and, in Brainerd, Minn., was able to simultaneously mark two items off his competitive bucket list, qualifying No. 1 on Aug. 19 and beating Antron Brown on a final round holeshot the following day.

He went on to win seven more times in the next three seasons, raising the trophy a career-high four times in 2019, the same year he and Steve made history when they opposed one another in two Top Fuel finals, becoming the first father and son to race one another more than once in the championship round.  

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After splitting those first two final round duels, Steve won their two most recent “family feud” finals by margins of less than a tenth of a second.

This story was originally published on January 29, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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