FATHER FACTOR DRIVES BILLY TORRENCE
As competitive as Billy Torrence is, he’s glad point leader Steve Torrence is his son and not his brother.
“If he was my brother I’d be kicking his butt,” the elder Torrence admitted.
Torrence admits he’s always been a competitive person, first with his business and it spilled over into his racing. He’s content to let Steve bask in the limelight, and take a backseat on the race track.
“I’m the dominant one at Capco,” Torrence said. “So that’s what I’m good at. I’ve never really been good at anything but pipelining.”
That’s not exactly true as Torrence had three career sportsman wins before moving up to Top Fuel, where has won twice. He’s not the dominant driver in the Torrence Family and that suits him just fine.
“I get as much personal satisfaction out of seeing what Steve, Kay, Richard, Bobby and Dom, and all these boys have put together and achieved and to know that I’m just a part of that, it’s very humbling. I’m totally satisfied with those guys just having that success and me being a part of that.”
It’s the family aspect of drag racing, the non-blood bonded family which intrigues Torrence the most about the straight-line sport. The fact it’s something the blood-related family can and has done for years together is what keeps him coming back.
“The thing about drag racing is we’ve raced as a family for years and years now, and I think that anything that you can do week in and week out with your family,” Torrence said. “No matter what it is what hobby or sport you partake in, I think that the family aspect that we come out here every weekend or 30 weekends a year and can spend time together, good quality time and have a good time all the time win, lose or draw. That’s what intrigues me is a family aspect of it. There are many more families out there enjoying the same thing.”
Torrence admits there came a time once Steve started racing, where watching his son win became more gratifying, than hoisting the trophy himself.
“I would just as soon see Steve win,” Torrence admitted. “Steve is in a better position to win than I am because he’s a full-time driver out here and you really need to do this full-time to be really good at it. It’s tough to come out even taking off two or three races; it’s tough to come out and have to think about what you do.”
While Torrence might have taught Steve how to drag race initially, it was his son who taught him the ins and outs of fuel racing.
“When we were racing sportsman racing, I had a lot of influence on him in the way he did early on, but he’s taken it to a different level,” Torrence said. “He drives the car and thinks while he’s driving it and he does a really good job.”
Torrence said he knew early on; Steve was going to be something special. And, this is just not a proud father kind of thing.
“He was always a very well disciplined young man,” Torrence said. “He’s a third-degree black belt in karate and Taekwondo or something like that. He’d been in that from an early age, and then he was raised pre-CPS. It was not against the law to whip his butt, and I think his mom probably kept him in line. But he’s always been a top-notch young man. No angel, but a good fellow.”
Torrence learned as much about the resolve of his son when at 17, he was diagnosed with cancer. Steve’s will to survive, and the overwhelming power of prayer was what Torrence credits with saving his son’s life.
“Steve and I were there when that doctor told him that he had cancer and looked at me and it’ll floor you, but we went into fight and pray mode,” Torrence recalled. “We prayed, and we got the best health care we could. We were blessed and fortunate for Steve to come out of that, and we’ve never looked back.
“We’re just very blessed and fortunate and had it not been for the good Lord; Steve wouldn’t be here today.”
Torrence is convinced the experience made Steve the man he is today.
“Steve lives every day to the fullest,” Torrence said. “He doesn’t worry about what repercussions tomorrow may bring. He says what he thinks, and he doesn’t leave much on the table at the end of any day.”
Torrence puts his personal accomplishments on the back burner to celebrates those honors earned by his son.
“I’m so proud of that young man,” Torrence said. “I’m proud of what he’s achieved. I’m a proud father of him, of how he’s grown up and what he does. The moral values that he has in his work ethic. I duck because they always say you pay for your raising and I’ve been very fortunate to have a great young man.
“I think he loves me unconditionally and is always in my corner. I work with Steve at Capco and trained Steve to take that place over every day, and he enjoys that camaraderie. He enjoys the competition of that business, and we work together every day, 12 hours a day.”
There and only there is where Torrence prefers to unleash his competitive tendencies.
I don’t have any children of my own... (YET), but putting my dad into an 11,000 HP top fuel car is the closest thing to a terrible idea as I can think of! #BillyBilly #FireBreathingDragon #LikeSonLikeFather #IveTaughtHimAllHeKnows #HowBoutDemCAPCOBoys pic.twitter.com/rurmw6K1I7— Steve Torrence (@SteveTorrence) August 20, 2019