Bristol: Thomas' "T" a Tennessee Tradition

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 27) – Two years ago when NHRA Drag Racing returned to Thunder Valley for the first of two Winston “No Bull” Showdown special event races, Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas of nearby Knoxville showed his true colors by...

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 27) – Two years ago when NHRA Drag Racing returned to Thunder Valley for the first of two Winston “No Bull” Showdown special event races, Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas of nearby Knoxville showed his true colors by proudly displaying a giant, orange “T” on the roof of his racecar to honor the University of Tennessee and the Volunteer’s perfect 13-0 football season. The response was so overwhelming that the “T” has become a permanent part of Thomas’ racecar whenever he competes at his home track of Bristol Dragway.

The 2001 visit for the inaugural Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals is no exception, as Thomas will once again fire-up the Orange-and-White Faithful with the traditional “T” on his car. The only difference is that this time the sticker will adorn the newest racecar on the NHRA circuit as Thomas debuts a beautiful 2001 Don Ness-built Pontiac Grand Am.

“We’ve won races and we’ve had plenty of other memorable days at racetracks around the country,” said Thomas, a 48-year-old with 15 national event wins. “But the thing everyone talks about the most is when we have that U.T. sticker on the car. We’re proud to support them. We’ve been longtime fans and it’s great to see everyone get so excited about our car and the University of Tennessee. Hopefully, it brings us some luck.”

Thomas and crew took delivery of their new car just 10 days ago and have been working feverously to prepare it for competition. They even managed to sneak in two full days of testing at Atlanta Dragway to get as many laps as possible on the car in anticipation of this weekend’s race.

“This is a beautiful car and there is no doubt in my mind that it’s going to be a very competitive machine,” Thomas said. “I would have liked to have made more test laps before coming to a national event but you have to work around the schedule. Everyone in the Pro Stock class with a new car has to test as they go and we’re no different. We’ll see if we can get it figured out in time for us to make some noise here in Bristol.

“You always want to do well at every race but when you’re at your home track and all of your friends and family are there rooting for you it pushes you even more. It would be a great boost for us to roll out here with this new Grand Am, qualify well, and put ourselves in a position to go some rounds on Sunday.”

The qualifying rounds of the inaugural Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals will air from 9:30-11:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday, on ESPN2. The elimination rounds will be broadcast from 5:30-7:30 p.m. EDT, also on ESPN2.

-Robert Geiger

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas