KILGORE, Texas – Mayor Ronnie Spradlin and City Manager Josh Selleck will be among the speakers Thursday evening when the City of Kilgore recognizes native son and newly-crowned drag racing world champion Steve Torrence in an open-to-the-public celebration at 5 p.m. at the Texan Theater.
A cancer survivor and graduate of Kilgore College, Torrence drove his 330 mile-an-hour Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the Mello Yello championship by becoming the first driver in history, regardless of category, to win all six races, a total of 24 two-car heats, in the NHRA playoffs.
Before and after he addresses the crowd, the new champion will be available for autographs and pictures with the Mello Yello Championship trophy he was presented by the NHRA and the Coca-Cola Company.
Diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma as a teenager, the 35-year-old Torrence underwent months of radiation and chemotherapy treatment before ultimately being declared “cancer free.” It’s an experience that changed his outlook and helped him achieve the kind of focus necessary to succeed on a national stage.
“People ask me where I’m from,” Torrence said, “and when I tell them ‘Kilgore,’ they say ‘yeah, but where do you live?’ Well, I live in Kilgore. I work at Capco, which is a family business, and fly to the races on Friday. But Sunday, when everything’s done, I fly back here. It’s where my friends are, my family, my roots.”