News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Trackside

August 26, 2008

Trackside: Valley racers chasing Wallys

TERRE HAUTE — The stage is set for drag racing’s premier event, the Mac Tools NHRA U.S. National at Indianapolis’ O’Reilly Raceway Park.

Often referred to as the “Super Bowl” of drag racing, the six-day event is slated to get under way today and run through the Labor Day weekend.

Success at the U.S. Nationals can often make a competitor’s year or for a select few — a career. The event carries a measure of prestige within the drag-racing ranks.

Qualifying for the event is considered an achievement within itself. To be fortunate enough to walk away at the end of the pressure-packed speed fest with one of the coveted “Wallys,” the name given to the winning Nationals trophy, is the ultimate goal of any drag racer.

It’s a feat one Wabash Valley racer accomplished a year ago, and he will be back to defend this week. A second up-and-coming Valley racer will be seeking the same at the U.S. Nationals.

Brazil’s Andrew Thomas was the class of the field in the NHRA Super Gas contingent a year ago when he pulled off a stunning upset to bring home one of the much sought after Wally’s to Clay County.

And while Thomas will be the first to tell you that in the highly-competitive world of NHRA drag racing, there’s little time to rest on one’s laurels, even a year later he has the right to savor his winning effort of 2007.

He recalls as a youngster how he and his dad would gather to watch the winners circle ceremonies at then Indianapolis Raceway Park dreaming of the day he might get a chance to compete in his sport’s biggest show.

“I grew up watching those guys race at IRP, seeing them get those trophies. To win one some 20 years later was a very special moment. Something I will never forget,” said the proud Thomas.

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Trackside
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