ANDRA Fastlane ANDRA_FASTLANEED26 - Page 7

ESS 7 fastlane At the ANDRA Annual General Meeting held in late 2018, two greats of our sport were inducted into the ANDRA Hall of Fame: Eddie ‘Big Daddy’ Thomas and Larry ‘Big O’ Ormsby. The contributions made by these two men to Australian drag racing are undoubtable, and so it was no surprise to most in our sport when they were each nominated and then inducted to the ANDRA Hall of Fame late last year. In this article, we take a look at the lives and accomplishments of these two goliaths of our sport while sending our thanks to them and their families for their contribution to our industry. EDDIE ‘BIG DADDY’ THOMAS His racing career might have been only short, yet the late Eddie Thomas was without a doubt a ‘big daddy’ of Australian drag racing. Eddie Thomas started as a drag racing driver relatively late in life in 1964 at 46 years of age in a rail which had originally been built by Greg Goddard. It is said that he could see a future for what was then an infant sport which had its beginnings in a Pakenham farmer’s paddock. As the fastest man in Australia at the time, Eddie felt he was an ambassador for the sport and as such, he and his crew – including close friend, Crew Chief and business partner, Pat Ratliff – always wore a collar and tie under white overalls. “I still have my father’s overalls, he and Eddie always wore a white shirt and tie to the races, at both the drag racing and the speedway – they wanted to make a good presentation and help change the appearance of our sport,” Pat’s son, Robbie Ratliff, said. “My dad and Eddie met by accident and Eddie said ‘why don’t you come and live in the same street’ and they did, with one house in-between. I grew up knowing Eddie from when I was only 18 months old, and I have so many great memories. The two worked together after hours in Eddie’s home workshop, where they produced speed equipment and their first cam-grinder. “He had a lot of names too – ‘Big Daddy’, ‘Mr T’, or as I called him – Mr Thomas. All the kids in the street called him that, and it wasn’t until the