WSSU freshman revving up become the next driving sensation

WSSU freshman revving up become the next driving sensation
December 08
03:00 2016


Walter Thomas III, the youngest of four siblings from Indianapolis, Indiana, always had auto racing in his blood. It’s a generational thing going back to his grandfather and his father, who were both race car drivers.

“I fell in love with the sport at a very young age. Some of my very first memories of life were of being at the race track with my father

back when he used to race,” recalls Thomas, a freshman at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU).

“As time went on, my dad noticed that I had taken a liking to the sport and decided to give me a shot. And, I guess you could say the rest is history or my story,” he says.

His first taste of racing was at the age of 4, behind the wheel of a quarter midget, a developmental race car for children. He advanced from racing quarter midgets to junior dragsters (a scaled-down version of a top fuel dragster, which can reach speeds of up to 85 mph), and from junior dragsters to bandoleros (a type of entry-level racing in the United States and Canada, where cars can reach in excess of 50 mph, but do not accelerate very quickly. Cars are built like miniature stock cars, with a tube frame and sheet metal cage).

Thomas became the first African-American to win the Outlaw Track Championship at Indianapolis’ Speedrome in 2012, even before he was old enough to have a driver’s license. He was also awarded NASCAR’s Diversity Young Racer award.

“The NASCAR ‘Drive for Diversity’ searches for minority drivers all over North America, Canada, and Mexico. I’d love to compete on their race team [Rev Racing, owned by Max Siegel] based out of Concord, N.C.,” he says. Thomas in regards to his pursuit of becoming a professional racecar driver, “I want to be ‘The Michael Jordan of NASCAR.’”

Thomas first best choice to reach his goal was by deciding to attend WSSU. He attended Lawrence North High School, where he had a 3.9 GPA. “I chose WSSU because it was one of the only schools in the entire nation to provide a motorsports program of this caliber. I made up my mind a long time ago about attend-ing this university just for that reason,” Thomas said.

Thomas aims not only to make the honor roll but also to make NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity 2017 Race Team, a development program that aims to identify young, ethnic minority, female drivers and pit crew members. In October, he was one of 17 drivers who competed at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway at a national tryout. His top speed on the track was 120 miles per hour. Six drivers will be chosen for Rev Racing in January.

“If I am chosen, I’ll be able to run in the Whelen All-American series here in North Carolina at Hickory Motor Speedway,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ long term goal is to obtain his bachelor’s degree in Motorsport Management, to become a full-time cup driver in NASCAR and own his own racing team.

“Through the program at WSSU, Walter will be able to develop the skills he needs, such as sponsorship management and public relations, to enhance his racing career,” said Clay Harshaw, assistant professor in the Department of Human Performance and Sport Sciences, and coordinator of the WSSU Motorsport Management program.

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors