David Thomas, Jr. grew up around the race track and considered himself to be a “race car kid.” Most of the drivers in the pit area at local New Hampshire race tracks he considered to be friends. So when he came up with the idea of hosting a charity go-kart event to raise money for Make-A-Wish, he knew that he’d be able to get his foot in the door. But he never imagined the DT100 for Make-A-Wish would grow to be as big as it is entering its seventh year.
“Since the beginning I just put it together as what people want to see,” Thomas told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Essentially, the DT100 is a real race just in go-karts. We have a pace cart. The first year when we rolled in with our first pace cart, the track owner looked at me like I had three heads. We had driver name plates, an announcer and we sing the National Anthem.”
The 7th Annual DT100 will take place this Saturday, February 28 at Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough, Maine. All proceeds collected leading up to and during the event will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening injuries.
Throughout the year, Thomas and his staff put in countless hours of work in preparation for the event. While staff members prepare, drivers entered in the race are busy raising money for Make-A-Wish. Last year, the event raised over $30,000 for Make-A-Wish and early totals for this year’s event are at $20,000 net fundraising.
Although Thomas keeps his fundraising goals to himself, in order to avoid any possible disappointment, he believes the stars are aligned for another big year in 2015.
“In all honesty, do I think that we can hit $30,000 again with this group? Yeah. I’ll never doubt these guys,” said Thomas. “There will be headaches left and right, but when it comes down to race day everybody is running on all cylinders. I didn’t expect to raise $30,000 last year. I would have been excited with $25,000. I would have been excited with $20,000.
“I threw out that we’ve already raised over $20,000 to show everybody the momentum we have going into this year’s event.”
For Thomas, all of the hard work throughout the year is worth it the moment that children from Make-A-Wish share their stories during pre-race ceremonies.
“It makes you look at thing a lot different,” he said. “It humbles you and makes you appreciate what you have more. When the Make-A-Wish kids speak, it just gives me fire power. It gives me fire power to just keep going and keep doing it.”
Over the course of the past seven years, a number of others have noticed the success of the DT100 and created charity go-kart events of their own. Thomas has no problem with that and has actually had a behind-the-scenes role with many of the events including the Race Against Cancer 100, Race to End Vanishing White Matter Disease and the upcoming Karting to Conquer Cancer event.
“We had growing pains. Our first event to the event now, you just can’t compare them,” said Thomas. “They’re just different events. It’s grown and it’s become more efficient. I’ve had people ask me how I did it and if they can use my ideas. There shouldn’t be any arrogance or any conceitedness when it comes to this. It’s all for charity.
“I don’t’ get excited from seeing someone going through the growing pains that I went through. If I can save someone a little bit of hassle, that’s what I’m going to do. This is for charity and it’s not a business. None of us are profiting off of this. If it was business, it’d be different. Business is competition, but as far as charity events it’s not a competition.”
What will be a competition is the three features that take place during Saturday afternoon’s DT100. Some of the most talented drivers in the Northeast and beyond will all be under one roof to benefit a great cause.
Two-time Oxford 250 champion Travis Benjamin, 2015 ACT New Smyrna Speedway champion Eddie MacDonald, 2014 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Andy Seuss, Southern Modified stars Burt and Jason Myers, ISMA’s all-time winningest driver Chris Perley, Five-time NEMA champion Randy Cabral and two-time ACT champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. are just some of the big names fans can expect to see in attendance.
In addition to the big names short track fans may be accustomed to seeing or reading about, the event also provides a stage for some of the sports local talent to shine.
Last year’s winner of the DT100 Light feature, Kyle Treadwell, used the momentum from his DT100 win to turn in a solid rookie season in the Pro Late Model division at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) and qualify for the Oxford 250 in his first attempt.
PASS Sportsman competitor Alex Lacognata, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) Pro Series drivers Evan Beaulieu and Bobby Timmons and last year’s DT100 Middleweight winner Connor McDougal are all local drivers who fans will want to keep an eye on come Saturday.
For many of these drivers, the event serves as an opportunity to have fun competing against drivers that they normally wouldn’t have the chance to compete against. But for some, like Thomas, the event is even bigger than that.
“This my Daytona 500. The only day of the year bigger than this is my daughter’s birthday.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: DT100Race.com