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Wed, 19 Sep 2001, 09:01 AM

Greg Thomas Returns To The Seat

MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- Greg Thomas announced today that he would return briefly to the driver’s seat at the 14th Annual AutoZone Nationals in Memphis, TN. “It’s been a long time”, said Greg Thomas who has not competed in an NHRA National Event since 1996. “But a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t thought about going down the track again. After selling my 2-race new Pontiac back in 1996, I lunged into building a new house that took 15 months rather than the 7 that was first promised. Then as that project ended, my Mother was admitted to the hospital for an illness that kept her there until she passed just about 2 years ago. And in the midst of all these events, I am the single parent of a soon-to-be 9-year old, Jordan, and helping him with homework, soccer and nervously watching him trying to learn new tricks on his skateboard is the most important, committed and rewarding thing I do. Everything has settled down now and I am ready to go racing.”

Greg has not drifted far from the NHRA schedule, often popping up at some of the NHRA events in the corner of Larry Morgan. It should not be surprising that he will be behind the wheel of Larry Morgan’s 2001 Dodge Avenger next weekend. “Larry [Morgan] is my closest friend in drag racing and an equally close friend away from the track. His camp is where I hang out at events when I’m not racing and I try to help with whatever Larry asks or needs me to do.”

“Our original plan was for me to run the car at the 17th Annual Keystone Nationals in Reading [PA] but those plans changed just as those of everyone else following that horrific incident last week in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. It has somewhat paled my excitement about competing in this week’s race. We all send our prayers for the victims and their families.”

Getting to the race may also be another story. Living on the West Coast makes it a little difficult with the travel situation the way it is at the moment. “Getting a commercial flight may be hard. Driving may be a little unreasonable and time may not allow it. With the restrictions that are still placed on General Aviation, flying myself may be a chore too.” In addition to his profession as a Telecommunications Consultant and his responsibility as a Father, Greg has been a pilot for nearly 20 years with a Commercial License that includes an Instrument Rating in both Single and Multi-Engine Aircraft, and an Instructor License that permits him to train people in both categories.

Greg Thomas and Larry Morgan first became acquainted when Greg was the driver for Jerry Haas beginning in 1993. That same year he drove for Steve Schmidt during the unveiling of Schmidt’s then new-style Pontiac Firebird at the 1993 U. S. Nationals, then returned to the seat of Jerry Haas’ Pro Stock Oldsmobile one more time at the 1994 World Finals. When Greg decided to build and race his own Pontiac Firebird in 1996, Larry Morgan supplied the power plant for that car. “That was some hotrod I had back in ’96. Don Ness built it and I couldn’t believe I had actually put such a ride together. That car wanted to run, even if you made stupid mistakes like we often did back then. But putting a ride together and being able to financially support it is two different things. Enough became enough. Adam Landolphi took a serious interest in the car after seeing it in Englishtown. As you get older your common sense begins to drive you more than your emotions and I decided to let it go.”

Larry Morgan, who began campaigning a Dodge over 2 years ago, recently parked the Avenger and moved into Dodge’s new PRO Stock flagship, the Dodge Neon. Don Ness built the new Dodge Neon as well as the Dodge Avenger that Greg is to pilot in Memphis. “It has been my plan recently to campaign a Dodge. When Larry made the move, I decided to take the same path. When the Neons arrived, that was the nail in the coffin. The Dodges have come a long way in such a short time, even currently holding the NHRA miles-per-hour record.”

The 14th Annual AutoZone Nationals will be held September 20th through the 23rd in Millington, TN.

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