TOLEDO, Ohio (August 12, 1998) -- If you sit down and take a few minutes to talk with P/Stock automatic drag racer Tom Kasch, you'll quickly figure out two things about the man. One, he has a passion for drag racing that's helped him overcome ...
TOLEDO, Ohio (August 12, 1998) -- If you sit down and take a few minutes to talk with P/Stock automatic drag racer Tom Kasch, you'll quickly figure out two things about the man. One, he has a passion for drag racing that's helped him overcome tremendous obstacles; and two, the word quit is nowhere to be found in his vocabulary.
Earlier this year at West Salem, Ohio, Kasch set a new national record for the P/Stock automatic class when he drove his 1998 Pontiac Firebird to an elapsed time of 12.85 seconds at 101.56 MPH. It was the first time a V6 stocker had set a record in the 12 second range. It came as no surprise to Kasch though. At the 1997 Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., his Firebird became the first six-cylinder stocker to run a sub-13 second quarter-mile at 12.98 seconds.
Kasch began drag racing in 1960 after his release from the United States Navy. In 1961, he took advantage of a friend's misfortune to purchase his first Pontiac, a 1959, 315 horsepower, 389 Tri-Power Catalina.
"He got caught for street racing and it was a situation where he had to get rid of the car right away," explained Kasch. "I knew that the car was fast so I bought it from him. On the way home from one of those races, I met my future wife, Ruth, and we've been racing together ever since."
In 1969, Kasch was on his way home from work when an out of control car slammed into the back of his vehicle. Kasch lost his right leg in the accident and spent the next two years undergoing five operations in a successful battle to save his left leg.
"I was getting ready to go back out on to the race circuit when the accident occurred," said Kasch. "I was a sales representative calling on a customer at a tune-up shop, and the car just lost control and hit me. We didn't get back into racing until 1973, but when we did, we went after it with everything we had."
In 1997, Pontiac approached Kasch to see if he would be interested in running a 3800 V6 Firebird. Kasch welcomed the opportunity, and four months after he purchased the car, his Firebird was ready for P/Stock competition.
"I like the idea of running the first 3800 V6 rear-wheel-drive car in Stock Eliminator," said Kasch. "There's always something challenging about racing a V6 in a class full of V8s."
Kasch's Firebird has a single hand controlled braking system that helps him stop the car after each run.
"Last year, we went to five national meets and four divisional races," said Kasch. "I've won my class in NHRA 36 times and have set the national record eight times. Along with that, I've been runner-up 13 times.
"When we set the record at Salem, that was only the second race that we had competed in this year. We've been out testing, but until we can get a sponsor, we've cut back on the number of races we're attending this year.
The engine we're using was built by my son Mike, who's the head engine builder at Roush Racing. He builds engines for Mark Martin's Winston Cup team and is in charge of the dyno room there."
The 59 year-old Kasch's next national meet will be the 44th Annual U.S. Nationals on September 3-7, at Indianapolis Raceway Park where he hopes to add another win to an ongoing total.
"I look forward to racing at Indianapolis every year," said Kasch. "That's a big deal to me because I'm a class racer and I go to win class. It also gives us a chance to catch up with some old friends. I've met a lot of people in this sport and drag racing has given me the opportunity to make some lasting friendships while accomplishing some pretty lofty goals. " # # # #