Getting Up To Speed With…Garrett Thomas
By Ben Deatherage
(Photo Courtesy of Jim Marshall)
We took some time to catch up with one of the rising stars of Western Washington. Garrett Thomas of McCleary, Washington has only been racing a few years but in that short amount of time he has accomplished some pretty big feats. In 2011 Garrett would win the prestigious Buddha Kinser Memorial race at Salem Indoor Speedway in Karts as well as claiming the Raymond Indoor championship too. In that same year he would win the Rookie of the Year Award for the Midgets at Grays Harbor Raceway where he has spent the majority of his career. Following in the footsteps of his father Brian, who has quite the diverse racing career himself, the Senior at Elma High School looks to compete for the 2013 USAC Ford Focus Midget championship at Grays Harbor Raceway while also run full time with the USAC Northwest Ignite Series.
Driver: Garrett Thomas
Home Track: Grays Harbor Raceway
Hometown: McCleary, Washington
Occupation: Student (Elma High School)
Years Racing: 3
Classification: USAC Ford Focus Midget
Car Number: 14
Sponsors: Precision Resistance, Olson Landscaping, Martelli Distributing, Advance Sandblasting and Powdercoating, Northwest Truck and Equipment Repair, Fastenal, Elma Lanes,
Special Thanks: Brian Thomas (Father), Mary Thomas (Mother), Brandi Thomas (Sister), Phyllis Mattson (Grandmother), Scott Mattson (Grandfather), and Betty Higgins (Grandmother)
Garrett last year you finished in the top ten in points, set fast time twice, and finished fifth or better four times in main event action at Elma. From your point of view how did you think the 2012 season went? I thought it went pretty well. Other than a few incidents we had and rolling the car once. Last year we had a timing belt break in the heat race and it bent the front axle. But overall it was good I was happy with it.
For 2013 what are goals that you have made for yourself? Mostly just run consistent. I’d like to keep up the top fives and really strive to finish every race and not get any DNF’s. I’d have to say those are my goals for this year.
Now during the offseason you had an opportunity to get some exposure with your race car at your school? Correct, we brought it out and took pictures of the car with the Elma High School Boys Soccer team which I was a player on. Every year the team has a poster with a schedule and a caption on it. This year our caption was “racing to the top”. The coach asked me if my car available and if I would be up to having the team pose with it. It was really cool because the posters went to businesses all around town.
Before stepping into Midgets you ran Speedway Karts first correct? Yes I did, from July 2010 to about March 2011. We had already bought the Midget and decided to run one year in the Kart in order to get some racing experience under my belt. In about my tenth race ever I won the BK3 (3rd Annual Buddha Kinser Memorial) in a ported out Yamaha engine with twenty-four horsepower. That race is the biggest race in the Pacific Northwest when it comes to Speedway Karts. You have drivers like Ronnie Cox, Renee Angel, and many more that are so tough to beat. Shortly after that I moved into my Midget and began racing that.
You’re a second-generation driver. Your Dad Brian has quite a pretty diverse background. How has he helped you? Really it is how hasn’t he. He’s done everything he possibly can to make me get better. He helps with the setup even though I’ve got to where I can do that myself now. And of course he’s there financially. Don’t get me wrong he’s not going to blow a hole in his pocket but if we really need something he’s there to keep us going. He won the Midget championship in 2006 at Grays Harbor; he raced sled dogs when he was six-years old, BMX bikes, Karts, Snowmobiles, and other stuff too. He has a very diverse background in racing.
What are some career goals that you have set for yourself? I kind of like the Midget deal right now. I’d like to get in a Sprint Car eventually. That really would be great. But it would also be nice to go to the Midwest and run nationally in a Midget. But that takes a lot of money and talent to accomplish that. For right now I just want to stay locally and have fun out here.
Grays Harbor Raceway will be back in action this Saturday May 11th for Ladies Night. Ladies and Moms will be able to get into the races this weekend for only $5.00. Classes competing include the Northwest Extreme Sprints, Shipwreck Beads IMCA Modifieds, Cut Rate Auto Parts Street Stocks, and Hornets. For more information visit www.graysharborraceway.com or call the brand new Northwest Tracks Hotline at (360)-699-RACE.