Born in 1963, Troy Buff is a life-long drag racer. In the mid-'60s,
as a kid growing up in southeast Texas, anytime someone asked, "What
do you want to be when you grow up?" Troy answered confidently, " A
Top Fuel driver!"
Image: BME Ltd.
Troy's Dad, NHRA
Hall of Famer, Willard Buff, started racing in the early 1960s with
a classic, '40 Willys Gas Coupe. Later, he ran a dragster,
injected-on-nitro, against some of the legends of the sport: Dale
Armstrong, Ken Veney and Brad Anderson, to name a few. Towards the
end of his career, Buff the elder, raced a Top Alcohol Dragster
Willard believed the best drivers could not
only drive, but, also, understood how racecars worked. Troy was five years
old when his Dad began teaching him the basics of
racing. Troy likes to show people a
picture taken back then of him and his Dad rebuilding a race car
transmission. This early involvement gave Troy a passion for racing which
In junior high, Troy wanted into
competitive sports and, typical of Texans of that age, he picked football.
It wasn't long before coaches said his small size begged serious injury and
suggested he pursue another sport, so, in 1975 at age 12,
Troy set his sights on motocross.
a dirt bike, he was a natural. A
fierce competitor riding well-prepared equipment, it was no surprise that he
won many races. It was, also, no surprise that, eventually, he'd take a
fall. Unfortunately, when he did in 1981, it was a horrible accident. His
right leg was seriously fractured and almost had be amputated. While
hospitalized, Willard Buff suggested that, after Troy recovered, he take
over driving the family's
Top Alcohol car. Eventually, a pin
was installed in his leg. That and lot of dental work and Troy was ready to
begin a drag racing career.
Only problem? The racecar was in pieces.
Willard told Troy
he must put it together and get it
running before he could race it. Troy's dream was starting to come true, so
he quickly agreed. While his folks were away on vacation, Troy applied the
knowledge he'd acquired working alongside his Dad all those years and put
the car back together. When Dad returned, Troy led him to the garage and
showed him the car.
"It is ready to start?" Willard asked.
"Ok. Light the motor."
Surprised his father wasn't going to check
his work, Troy rolled the car out of the shop and fired it.
BME Top Fuel Team, everyone works on the car. Troy
Buff has responsibility for the front of the car and
the supercharger. In this short video, Troy talks
about working on the race car.
The next weekend, 18-year old
Troy Buff earned his NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster license. Signing him off, was
1981 NHRA Funny Car World Champion, Raymond Beadle and 1981 IHRA champion,
Image: BME Ltd.
first competitive passes were impressive, coming close to the
TAD record. In 1982, he was nominated NHRA Division 4 Rookie of
the Year. He was nominated for Div 4. Driver of the Year in
every season he ran the blown-alcohol car and won that title in
1998 and 2000. His quickest TAD pass, a 5.40, came in 1999
which, as Troy says, "...was flying back then." Troy won
numerous NHRA Divisional and
Championships throughout his Top Alcohol career. Asked about his
best TAD memories,
in '99 and twice winning the AutoZone Nationals at Memphis.
At the end of 2003,
Troy retired the Top Alcohol car and began looking for a Top
Fuel ride. His search ended two years later with a call from a
former sponsor. Four years before, Troy had a chance meeting
with Tim and Renee Coghlan, owners of KK Trucking, Inc. in
Carthage, Mississippi. Tim told Troy that his dream was to,
a Top Fuel
car. Troy told Tim that his dream was, also, to, someday, drive
a Top Fuel car. Following that meeting, the Coghlan's sponsored
Troy's Top Alcohol car for a time.
Troy Buff came to Bill Miller's
attention in early 2005. In an act of persistence, Buff cold-called Miller
asking to drive his car. Bill told him to go get a T/F license and gain a
little experience and then they'd "talk."
Image: BME Ltd.
Fall of 2005. Troy's
phone rings. Tim Coghlan was ready to start his Top Fuel Team and
Troy to drive.
"Someday" had arrived. In October, Troy inked a deal with the
True to form, during
licensing, Troy was impressive. While licensing requires an initial,
half-track pass, he was more than ready for the real deal. Later in
the day, Troy staged the new, Coghlan Motorsports Top Fueler for his
first full pass, then went 4.613/316.30. Troy came back for his
second run going 4.642/325.30. Licensing in only two and a half
passes was amazing by itself, but after getting signed-off by Top
Fuel Champions Larry Dixon and Scott Kalitta, Troy learned the two
passes were the quickest and fastest, quarter-mile T/F license runs
in NHRA history. They remain that, today.
In June of '06, the Coghlan Motorsports debuted at the NHRA O'Reilly Midwest
Nationals. In his first round of eliminations, Troy beat the number one
qualifier and winner of the previous week's National Event. Buff ran five
other NHRA events Coghlans that year. Ironically, at the last race in '06 at
Pomona, Troy Buff and the Coghlan team were bumped out of the 16-car field
by none other than the BME Dragster.
In 2007, Bill Miller was making a driver change and, remembering Buff's
persistence, offered him the BME ride. A dragster gearhead since childhood
and not only former driver for the Coghlans, but their engine builder, too;
Buff was a perfect addition to the BME Top Fuel team where everyone, even
the driver, works on the car. "My job," Troy says, "is superchargers, race
car prep from the roll cage forward and I do all the fuel mixing. I am
excited about driving for the best independent team in Top Fuel."
The fans love "smilin'" Troy Buff.
Here he greets his constituency at the NHRA Spring
Nationals at Houston in 2016. Image: BME Ltd.
another valuable characteristic to the BME/Red
Line Oil Top Fuel Team:
his small size. That might seem trivial to some, but the rule of
thumb in T/F is: every 15 pounds out of the car is a hundredth
off the e.t. In a class were qualifying positions and round wins
can depend on a thousandth of a second, 20 pounds less in the
driver seat is huge.
While Willard Buff no longer drives race cars, Troy tells us,
my number one fan and mentor. He keeps me in check and
motivated. During the week, we work together at our business,
Competition Automotive Machine."
In a decade driving for Bill
Miller, Buff has done the BME Team well. In 2008 and 2010, BME had the best
points finish of Top Fuel Teams running partial schedules. Troy has become
known for his starting line expertise. Many of his round wins have come from
his quick reaction times.
In 2016, at the Spring Las Vegas
event, Troy Buff turned-in his best performance ever as BME's driver. He
qualified 12th then drove the BME Dragster around Richie Crampton, Brittany
Force and J.R. Todd and into the final round. It is rare for any
partial-schedule Top Fuel team to go to the last round. In the final, Buff
left on Antron Brown by .041-sec. but lost by .0346-sec. after dropping a
cylinder. Troy was named "Driver of the Race" for his runner-up finish and
all his reaction times .069 or better. His .012 light in the final was the
quickest reaction time of the season at the time.
relationship for a Top Fuel Team is that between
driver and owner. The BME Team's success depends, in
part, on the chemistry and communication between
Buff and Car Owner, Bill Miller (right). Image: BME
Troy has earned the respect of
his fellow competitors for his driving talent, tuning skills and eagerness
to lend a hand to other racers. His beaming smile and friendly personality
has made him a crowd pleaser and a favorite to racing fans of all ages.
Besides drag racing, Troy's
other hobby is quite unique--he builds high-end, vacuum tube, home audio
equipment and the speaker systems to go with it. Troy Buff resides in
Image: BME Ltd.