NHRA: Thomas to Take Center Stage at Pennzoil Show
22 December 1998FORT WASHINGTON - Pennzoil Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas, the most successful driver of Team Pennzoil's 1998 drag racing campaign, will be the feature attraction Jan. 15 at the Pennzoil Motorsports Show, which takes place in the Fort Washington Expo Center. Thomas will be available for autographs, photos and conversation with the various racing fans in attendance at the show on a date officially designated as Drag Racing Day.
"I'm excited to get this chance," Thomas said. "I have always enjoyed interacting with the fans. One of the unique aspects of drag racing is the fact that the pits are wide open for people to stop by and say hello while we're working. A show as big as this one will allow even more time to spend with the people that support everything we do."
A resident of Knoxville, Tenn., Thomas enjoyed a career year in 1998 while leading all of his Pennzoil teammates in events won, rounds won and championship points gained during the season. He performed well enough at each race to remain a front-runner in the points chase until the honor was officially secured by Warren Johnson in October. Thomas went on to finish in sixth place, the highest final position of his seven-year career.
Of note, Thomas won his first national event in May when he drove around eventual Winston points champion Johnson in the finals of Chicago's Route 66 Nationals. Additionally, his superb qualifying performances over the past year earned him a spot in the eight-man field of the prestigious Pro Stock Challenge, where he once again bettered Johnson during a trip to the semifinals. In all, Thomas qualified for 22 events and won 15 elimination round races in 1998.
The main catalyst to Thomas' success this past season is a result of his own engine-building prowess. Frustrated with having to use old, outdated engines, Thomas began building his own engines in the winter of 1996 under the name of Finish Line Racing Engines. Months of testing produced drastically improved times and Thomas was eventually asked by several high-profile teams to share his power-making secrets. By the start of '98, Thomas had signed five teams to lease agreements with Finish Line and together the group put together one of the best years ever for a single engine supplier. In all, the five drivers accumulated three top 10 finishes, four national event victories and 61 elimination round wins.
Thomas will be available from 3-5 p.m. and again at 7-9 p.m. The 14th Annual Pennzoil Motorsports Show fills over 270,000 square feet of exhibition space in the Philadelphia suburb of Fort Washington. For more information, check the web at www.aarn.com/motorsports.html.