ANDRA Fastlane ANDRA_FASTLANEED26 - Page 9

9 That business was the famous Eddie Thomas Speed Shop, where Eddie and his business partner Pat had been making plenty of waves since its opening in Caulfield in 1956 by inventing and/or developing speed equipment and safety gear way ahead of its time. With these developments of gear that was simply not available in the Australian market, Eddie and his business played an extremely important role in the newly developing Australian aftermarket and speed equipment industry. When they installed a Heenan & Froude dyno – the first in Melbourne – it attracted top teams from all disciplines of motor racing. Just some of the advances Eddie made include building one of the first blown dragsters in Australia, trialling the first parachutes, building his own fuel injection system and his own multi-plate clutch system. The lifetime member of the Southern Hot Rod Club also ran the very first 426ci Hemi engine ever in Australia and developed his own fire suit – which turned out to be timely as a few months later an exploding clutch in the traps saw him suffer the first serious drag racing fire in the country! “It is very heart-warming for all of us to see Eddie inducted into the Hall of Fame. He truly deserves it for what he has done and been involved with and what he has achieved,” Robbie said. “I always say that I was very lucky growing up that I had two mentors, my father and Eddie.” In all, he won five Australian Nationals in four different classes – Stock (1970), Pro Stock (1971), Competition (1976) and Top Fuel (1979 and 1984) – and he was also crowned as the 1984 Australian Top Fuel Champion. “Winning a ‘Nationals’ Championship is first and foremost and is the dream of most, if not all, serious drag racers. None are easy, all are difficult and challenging. To hold that Christmas Tree is often the dream come true,” Ormsby reflects. “One of my most memorable would be the 1979 ADR Grand Finals at Castlereagh. I needed to win the final run and set the low ET and Top Speed to win against the ‘Hussey rail’ and take the Championship by nine points; which we did. “The most significant was winning the 1984 Nationals at Surfers Paradise against Jim Read. With Colin Russell returning as crew chief along with a team that had never worked on the car, it seemed an impossible ask. If that was not enough, we also damaged a crankshaft on a run late in the afternoon and needed to line bore the engine block and replace the crankshaft! “Jim Read had one shipped from Sydney for us by his daughter on the last flight to Brisbane. The team worked through the night and the engine burst into life at 6.30am on race day. We then raced through to the finals against Jim Read with the hole shot of my life and with a Nationals Christmas tree in hand, it was Don Quixote stuff!” fastlane