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A Very Busy August For Thomas Grady

ThomasGradyAug01(Sept 2012) August was a very busy month for Thomas Grady. August 2-4 was spent trail guiding and hanging out with friends from the Two Rivers Jeep Club, in Pittsfield, IL. We brought the old competition Jeep and the Ultra-4 race car. It was a blast to see Thomas running the trails and just hang out for a weekend.

Monday Thomas cleaned up the car and showed it at the Lockport car show, it was a huge hit. The following Thursday and Friday Thomas and the race car were at the Joliet, IL TORC Race, showing the car at the BFGoodrich pit. There was literally a line of people from age 6 to 60 who waited in line to talk to Thomas and have a chance to sit in the race car. While at the race, Thomas was able to spend some time with some of the TORC pro drivers.

On August 17 we loaded up the race car and headed to the Dirty Turtle Off-Road park in Bedford, KY for a MAORA short course race on a 1 mile course with lots of turns and jumps. Unfortunately the long season has taken its toll on a lot of racers and only two trucks showed up for the race, so the race director had Thomas race against the class 10 buggies, which are very fast. They had Thomas start 1/2 mile behind the buggies. After 10 laps, Thomas was able to pass all the buggies except the leader.

On August 24 we loaded up again for a TREC race in Attica, IN.14 racers showed up for the two hour long night race. TREC usually has a land rush start with all racers leaving at the same time, however for this race they had the drivers picked a number out of a jar for starting order and leave one at a time 15 seconds apart, unfortunately Thomas started 8th. Although the dust was very thick and the course was muddy, Thomas pushed hard and worked his way up to third place. Racing hard he suffered a flat tire and an over-heated radiator and had to pit twice. The two pit stops cost him some time and Thomas finished in fourth place .The fourth place did give Thomas enough race points to move him into a tie for first place in the race series for the series championship!

We returned home on Sunday and received some good news on Tuesday. The race officials in the sportsman class at Crandon Raceway would let Thomas compete in the world championship races on labor day weekend. We checked out the car and loaded it and spare parts for a trip to the “Big House” (Crandon Raceway is the ”INDY 500” of off road racing).

Time ran short on prepping the car at home, so while Thomas and the pit crew had the car on display on main street in down town Crandon they adjusted the shocks and coil-overs for short course racing, which really drew a big crowd, because the fans had never seen a car like that, let alone see guys working on their car a few hours before practice while on a street downtown.Practice went well. Thomas’ suspension was set pretty good so we made a few more adjustments before getting some rest.

ThomasGradyAug02After the Saturday morning drivers meeting, the officials and other drivers decided that Thomas would have to pull off the track after the white flag, so their finishing order would not be affected by Thomas taking the checkered flag. Thomas and the team were very disappointed with this news, and told Thomas race as hard as he could. And race hard he did!

The officials started eight sportsman pro trucks 25 seconds ahead of the Formula 4×4 trucks. When Thomas left the start line from the rear row of nine Formula 4×4 trucks he would be 25 seconds behind 17 trucks. By lap seven he passed all the formula 4×4 trucks and five of the sportsman pro trucks. Then the water temperature went up to 270 degrees and a small fire started under the hood so the officials stopped him on lap eight.

After the race we figured out the high water temperature was because the gasket blew out of the radiator cap and most of the water blew out of the radiator, causing the very hot motor. When the motor got hot the header got hot and the oil was misting out of the engine breather onto the header and catching fire. Nothing to serious. The radiator cap was replaced with a spare and the oil vent line was relocated in no time right after the race. The pit guys then checked over the rest of the car and watched the pro guys race.

Sunday’s race would have six sportsman pro trucks and eight Formula 4×4 trucks. Thomas would be starting last again. On the first lap of the race, one of the sportsman pro trucks had a bad crash and the race was delayed while waiting for the Life Flight helicopter to arrive. As of that night the driver was in the hospital and improving.

On the second restart, two of the Sportsman Pro trucks collided on the first turn and the race was stopped again with one driver being taking to the hospital for observation. Prior to the second restart the officials made the decision to shorten the race to five laps. After four laps Thomas was able to pass all but one of the Formula 4×4 guys and then had to pull off the course. Thomas had a great weekend of racing and meeting more professional racers and made lots of new fans.

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