Jordan Thomas doesn’t even have a driver’s license. And yet, he already powers a car with a blistering 530 horsepower.
No, that car is not on the interstate or a freeway. Thomas has stuck to dirt tracks for the past 10 years. And on July 5, Thomas, a Harding native, won his first CRSA sprint car main event at the I-88 Speedway in Afton, N.Y.
Thomas is the driver for the two-car team at FT Motorsports based in Harding. One of his cars is powered by a 530 horsepower Chevy engine that he competes in with the CRSA Sprint Car Series. The other sprint car is equipped with a 750 horsepower Chevy engine in the ESS and Patriot Sprint Car Series. All three series are based in New York.
This certainly isn’t something Thomas was just thrown in to. For the past nine years, Thomas has raced on the PDS Go-Kart circuit. He moved up to sprint cars last season.
At 14 years old, he was one of the youngest drivers in the nation, competing against other drivers sometimes four times his age. At one race this year, the 15-year-old Thomas was lined up against a 68-year-old driver.
“It took about three or four races (to get used to it),” Thomas said. “It was just a learning experience to pace myself. I had to go into the corner a little faster each lap and learn how the car handles.”
Sprint cars are the fastest, most competitive form of dirt track racing, reaching speeds of 125 mph, according to Thomas’ grandfather, Dick Peck. And it didn’t take long for Thomas to get the grasp of the powerful cars he was racing around the dirt.
But he still knows that there is a lot to be learned. Especially racing against more experienced drivers.
“It’s real hard to beat their experience,” he said. “They have so many laps. My consistency has been helping us in how smooth I was from go karts.”
That transition from karts to sprint cars was a fairly easy one, Thomas said.
Starting in August of last year, Thomas competed in 12 sprint car races, reaching 11 main events. He completed the 2012 season at Five Mile Point Speedway in Binghampton, N.Y. where he won his heat and finished sixth in the feature race.
Thomas’ first sprint car win didn’t come easy.
With a caution on lap 14, Thomas was out in front followed by a pack of eager drivers.
On the restart, it was Thomas again holding his lead but this time a determined Keith McIntyre was in hot pursuit. As the 25-lapper wore down, Thomas continued to hold off McIntyre. As the double checkered flags waved, it was the second generation, local driver taking the win.
“It was just a great accomplishment,” Thomas said. “Finally, we got here. I started first and won.”
Thomas explained that it was his race to lose and, although everyone was waiting for him to make a mistake, he didn’t.
The win put Thomas into third place in the CRSA points standings. Since the win, however, Thomas earned a ninth-place finish at New York’s Orange Country Fair Speedway to move him into second place. He now trails John Matrafailo by 39 points.
Thomas has quite the resume. In his 11 years of racing, mostly with the karts, he has three track championships at Hamlin Speedway. He’s collected three different Fast Time awards. In 2011, he was named the PDKS State Champion and the Burris Tires Series Champion.
The driver’s late grandfather bought him his first go-kart when he was 5 yeas old. But he’s watched videos of his father’s races for 15 years.
“I wanted to be just like him one day,” the younger Thomas said.
The son of Jeff and Denise Thomas, Thomas will be a sophomore at Wyoming Area this fall. He plays baseball and also played running back for the West Pittston Rams. He was a pitcher for the Swoyersville Teener team. He is the grandson of Dick Peck, of Harding, and Yolanda Kirtland, of Archbald.