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Fastrak  GM $50,000 Championship
   
William Thomas $50,000 FASTRAK Grand National Champion "through his eyes"



William Thomas in his words; “What it means to be the $50,000 FASTRAK National Champion”

William Thomas, only 20 years of age, has just won the largest Championship of his life taking home the $50,000 prize for becoming the NATIONAL CHAMPION for the FASTRAK Late Model division in 2007. Thomas better known as “Mr. Smooth” has certainly earned his name throughout the 2007 season. Thomas always made his way to the front and was a threat in the final laps of every FASTRAK Touring event. Proving once again via the FASTRAK points system, consistency pays off. The National Championship of the FASTRAK Series is certainly about the dollar amount. No one can deny that, however the title has become one of the most “prestigious” in the United States.

“It’s unbelievable” said William after the race. “I guess it hasn’t really sunk in yet. Did we really do it? Did we really win $50,000 and a National Championship? Man that’s great”. Thomas was awarded a huge $50,000 check along with a completely new specially designed 6 foot Championship trophy. The trophy was designed by Chan ****wood of Concept Graphics in Georgia.

(The following interview took place on November 16th)

So William, how does it feel to be a National Champion at 20 years of age?
Thomas: It’s pretty awesome. A driver always dreams of winning the ‘big one’. The National Championship of the FASTRAK Series is one of the biggest in the country and to win it just seems almost impossible. I still can hardly believe it. Who would have ever believed you could have won $50,000 with a $5000 engine? FASTRAK is definitely the best thing going in the country. I mean where else can you do something like that in racing”?

Did you realize you could be the youngest National Champion in dirt racing history?
Thomas: “No I didn’t. That’s pretty cool. Wow, I had never even thought about that. Last year FASTRAK had the oldest National Champion and this year the youngest National Champion. I guess that just shows how equal it really is”.

William what do you think about racing Late Models with crate engines? Thomas: “I really think you can learn as much here about running a late model as any type of racing. The set up on these cars is so critical. You don’t have all that hp like you do in a Super Late Model so in that respect it’s really harder. If you slip in one of these cars you really lose a lot of positions because you don’t have the hp to help you. I know a lot of times the crates are faster than the supers in the corners. That’s where it’s all at. The faster you go through the corners, the faster you are down the straight. Everything is so equal you just can’t miss the set up and you sure can’t make many mistakes driving. If you do, you really pay the price”.

So what do you think about the FASTRAK Series itself?
Thomas: “I mean what could be better? I’m serious. What form of racing has $50,000 to win with a $5000 engine? FASTRAK treats everyone equally and they have always done what they said they would do. The tech is always fair and it’s open for everyone to see. The Goodyear tires are great. Everyone is on the same exact tires and the same engine. That’s all a racer can ask for. I really think FASTRAK is the best thing going for racers anywhere in the country. I know I have personally improved 150% by traveling with FASTRAK this year. I have learned so much. More than racing, we really made some great friends. It’s pretty amazing that the management of FASTRAK really pushes that part of it. The being friends and helping each other part. That really helps you look forward to going to the races when things are that way. In the drivers meeting at the last race at Bulls Gap I heard Stan Lester actually go through the crowd and have everyone introduce themselves. He asked everyone to hold their hands up that had borrowed parts from anyone over the weekend. I guess everyone there held their hands up. It was sort of funny really but it was also very true. We made friends with people from all over the United States and that’s what really makes FASTRAK special. Like Stan said that night in the drivers meeting. “Racing may come and go, but friends last a lifetime. That’s so true”.

Let’s talk about the Goodyear tires. Do you like them?
Thomas: “I think they are great. We started the year on tires we had from 2006. Can you believe that? We won the first race of the season on one year old tires? No other tire does that. We didn’t buy many tires this year really. I mean one or two here or there but our tire bill was really nothing compared to other series. Two compounds, really close to each other in hardness but the G45 drives like a much softer tire because of the sidewall and the G50 has a stiffer sidewall for harder tracks. I think the only time we actually wore out a tire was on the right rear with a 75 lap main on a very hard track. The Goodyear’s are designed so you can flip them around and use then all over again. The Goodyear’s really do save the racers a bunch of money. No siping and grooving per FASTRAK rules and that really cuts down on the amount of time you have to work on your car every week. The FASTRAK tire program with Goodyear really is the best option out there today. Not to mention, from what I see Goodyear has put 100% of their marketing money behind “grass roots racing”. That in itself is pretty unusual. Goodyear really is supporting the weekly racer and that has helped racing in general. I believe because of their tire program and their support of the FASTRAK Series, it has helped race tracks and teams all across the country”.

How about the GM crate engines?
Thomas: “The GM crate engine program is great. They are so reliable. You practically have no maintenance. I mean you change retainers and valve springs about every hundred and fifty laps, change oil and spark plugs and go racing. How much easier does it get than that? I have one engine that has 1000 laps on it and it is still as strong as ever”.

So did you learn anything this year with FASTRAK that would help you in the future?
Thomas: “I really learned so much I could never say it all. Chassis tuning, set ups, engine tuning and a lot more. One thing I like about racing with FASTRAK is the things they help us learn other then actual racing. FASTRAK does the autograph sessions for instance. That helps us learn how to deal with the fans. FASTRAK encourages us to have hero cars made and it really helps our sponsors and fans. The management of FASTRAK constantly reminds us through email and driver meetings that the fans are what it’s all about. That without them there would be no racing and that is so true. Learning how to do interviews has been a big part of what I have learned this year too. It’s pretty awesome when you talk to all the fans and I really think that will help me in the future as I move up. It also helped a lot in learning to deal with pressure. That National Championship really taught me to drive smart, take my time and be there at the end.

So let’s talk about the competition within FASTRAK. Is it tough? Thomas: “Tough! Man, racing with these guys is very tough. Think about the Grand Nationals. There were people there from all over the United States. Some of them drove three thousand miles to be there. Those guys didn’t come to play. They came to win and it was the best of the best in the United States. Track Champions from across the country. Regional Champions from across the country. They all came to win. How could it be any tougher? Former Super Late Model Stars, current Super Late Model Stars, FASTRAK champions from everywhere and you know those guys are tough. Like **** Barton from New York, Ed Dixon from Missouri. Not to leave anyone out but I have heard about those guys all my life and you don’t beat those guys easily. They are tough wherever they go. I would like to say I really appreciate all of the teams that raced with us, not just at the Grand Nationals but all year long. I respect the teams with FASTRAK. They are some of the best period. I am just honored to race with them”.

So William in closing what would you like to say to everyone?Thomas: “I just want to say thanks first of all to FASTRAK. Stan Lester and all of his staff and regions and weekly tracks across the country. Then to Goodyear, General Motors and Sunoco Fuels and the other sponsors of FASTRAK for giving us such a great National Point fund to race for. My dad for putting up with me and letting me do this. It sure is good to have all of his experience behind me. I could have never done it without him. Also my aunt and the rest of my family for taking care of East Alabama Motor Speedway while we were away traveling racing. That really took a lot of pressure off of me and dad. I sure don’t want to miss anyone because everyone that helped with anything helped make a dream come true for me.

I want to thank all of the FASTRAK teams. It’s great we have made so many friends throughout the year. Although I do plan on stepping up and running some super late model races in 2008 but I still want to come back and defend my National title.

Sponsors of the yellow 22 Thomas car:
JW Miller Land And Timber Company; BTR Racing, All Star Graphics, Scorpion Race Cars, Genesis Shocks, IBACH Springs, PPM Racing Products, Joe Gibbs Race Oil, Simpson Safety Equipment, Winters, Sweet Manufacturing, East Alabama Motor Speedway.

Hauled it with a dually, a 28 foot trailer, less than 20 Goodyear tires all year and without the “high dollar” canister shocks.

Congratulations to William for his accomplishments in 2007. You will be a wonderful National Representative during 2008!

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