Ten years ago, Dave Thomas, Jr. and a handful of racing enthusiasts got together at a go-kart track in New Hampshire to have fun and raise money for a good cause. Now, 10 years later, Thomas is preparing to close out a chapter with the 10th and final running of the DT100 for Make-A-Wish charity go-karting event.
Since that first event in 2009, the DT100 has turned into an event much larger than Thomas ever imagined it would become. The event has attracted some of the most talented race car drivers from the Northeast and beyond while raising nearly a quarter of a million dollars for Make-A-Wish.
On Saturday, Thomas and the short track racing community will gather one final time at Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough, ME to have fun and raise money that will help positively impact the lives of children.
“It’s arguably one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life, especially with the event being as successful as it has been,” Thomas told Speed51.com. “There are multiple reasons, but none of them are really negative. Sometimes I guess it’s just time to end the chapter I guess.
“The event has gone above and beyond anything I expected it to be. It’s just hard to explain. I would rather this be our last year and ask myself why than to see the event continue and turn into something I didn’t intend it to be. I feel that it’s time and I’d love to see somebody a little bit younger step up and carry the torch. If it’s not for Make-A-Wish, I hope it’s for a charity that they truly care about as I do.”
Since that first event held in New Hampshire, the event has changed. In addition to moving to a larger facility, the DT100 has attracted racing stars from all over New England and as far away as North Carolina and Ohio. With that, the competition level has also increased with drivers battling for bragging rights.
“The event we have now is by no means the same as our first event, but that first event I have some of the best memories from,” Thomas stated. “It was just us learning and growing and we were laughing; it wasn’t quite as serious as it is now. It was just a bunch of open-wheel race fans from New Hampshire that wanted to make a difference.”
Although the event has changed, the main goal for Thomas, his staff and the racers has not. In the event’s nine years, the event has raised approximately $235,000 for Make-A-Wish. That money has helped grant wishes to children and has provided them with opportunities that they may not have otherwise received.
For Thomas, that is the most satisfying part of the work he has put in over the last 10 years.
“I think racing does kind of have a reputation among people who aren’t race fans or racers. I’m really proud of what this group did to come together to make a difference,” Thomas said. “If you say you’re a part of something that’s raised a quarter of a million dollars to help some really great young men and women, I think that’s definitely admirable and puts racing in a good light. We’re not just people out there crashing up race cars and complaining. These racers do have a lot of heart. Some of these racers do have children that are Make-A-Wish. To meet families and meet people that have had a wish granted is just truly satisfying. Other than the birth of my daughter, there’s nothing I’m more proud of.”
Moving forward, Thomas is hopeful that someone may continue the tradition. With a great event already built, the next person in line has the opportunity to hit the ground running.
“I’ve heard of a couple of people who may be interested in taking over,” Thomas stated. “It’s a great opportunity. You have older drivers and younger drivers that love this event. If it carries on, you have a great base to build off from. We kind of started from scratch. I’m by no means the first person to ever come up with a charity go-kart event, I just helped build it the way that I felt would be kind of neat and what people would like to see and be a part of.”
If someone does take over the event, Thomas can’t see himself being completely erased from the picture.
“I can’t picture me just being done helping. I’ve told people that I might be ending the chapter, but I’m not closing the book.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com