By Tommy Goudge (February 22, 2013) – Drivers and teams from Ohsweken Speedway are hard at work getting ready for the 2013 racing season, which is now less than 3 months away. Mike Thorne took a break from those preparations to reflect on his two consecutive Thunder Stock titles, and look ahead to his attempt at a three-peat in 2013.
Mike Thorne will turn 23 years of age next week, but he’s already been racing full-size cars for 7 years, and has won the Thunder Stock championship at Ohsweken in each of the last two seasons. Feature wins are hard to come by in the very competitive Thunder Stock division, but Mike has managed to collect a few of those, while also maintaining an amazing level of consistency. This season, he’s trying to become the first driver at Ohsweken Speedway to win three consecutive Thunder Stock championships.
FAST FACTS – MIKE THORNE
Birthdate: March 3, 1990
Hometown: Caledonia, Ontario
Occupation: Brewers Retail Staff
TG: “Which driver do you most enjoy competing against, and why?”
MT: “As a kid sitting in the stands, I always had my eye on Scott McPhail in the Thunder Stock division, so racing against him was a highlight for me. He has helped me out in many ways on and off the track, including being a co-op teacher, and a sponsor, but most of all as a friend.”
TG: “Your girlfriend Laura races at Ohsweken in the Mini Stock division. What would happen if you two were in a match race against each other in identical cars?”
MT: “I think it would be a great race, because I know Laura is as competitive as I am. Once we put on our helmets, I would race her like anyone else, and I know she’d do the same.”
TG: “What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to get involved in racing that you would like to have been given when you started?”
MT: “Don’t give yourself such high expectations. Every driver is different, and starts somewhere, and gains experience at their own pace. Take your time, and don’t let it overwhelm you – fun is supposed to come first. Feel free to approach other drivers – they won’t steer you the wrong way.”
TG: “You have a large and very-hardworking team behind you. What does it mean to have all those people supporting you, pushing for your success?”
MT: “We’re not just a team, we’re a family. We don’t just work on the car together, we do everything together, from holidays to Sunday morning breakfast. It means the world that I have support from my family, and it’s a bonus to have it coming from friends as well. Their encouragement and support makes racing so much more enjoyable.”
TG: “You’re actually the youngest of the four 2012 Ohsweken Speedway champions, all of whom are age 25 or under. We hear all the time that it is hard to draw young people to short track racing, either as fans or racers – How do you think more members of your generation could become interested in racing?”
MT: “A lot of people my age – including myself – grew up with racing and spent the Saturday nights of our childhoods at the race track – it was just what we grew up with. I think that if drivers interacted more with kids during autograph night, or in the pits, it would make them feel more appreciated as fans, and for coming out each week.”
TG: “How did you first get involved in racing as a driver, and what was your first race car?”
MT: “When I was a kid in my first soap box derby at Flamboro Speedway, I won my first trophy, and didn’t want to stop winning them. Eventually, in my teens, I started in Mini Stocks, and soon it escalated to Thunder Stocks. It’s been a 7 year battle along the way, meeting new friends, and learning new things every year, and loving every second of every lap along the way.”
TG: “The Thunder Stock division was competitive in 2011 during your first championship run, but got even more competitive in 2012. How much tougher was it to win the title last season?”
MT: “We went into the 2012 season very open-minded. We knew there was a lot more competition coming, so we experimented a lot to try and better ourselves. We stuck with what worked, and we never gave up, even when we fell behind. Racing to me is fun, and we come out every Friday night to have fun. Whether I blow up a brand new motor or finish last, I have fun and make every night worth it, and make sure my crew and I are back there the next week no matter what happens.”
TG: “You’ll be back in Thunder Stocks this year, and going for a three-peat. Are Thunder Stocks where you would like to stay, or would you eventually like to try another division?”
MT: “If the option arose that we could move up, we’d love to move up, but it’s such a tough decision to leave the Thunder Stock family after all these years. But, I know we’d have everyone’s support in moving up in my racing career.
TG: “You’ve been involved in a number of exciting races over the past few years, including a couple which ended in photo finishes. What’s going on in your head when you’re side-by-side with someone for the lead, lap after lap?”
MT: “I am focused on winning, but at the same time I am extremely focused on finishing a clean race, and making sure that I win because I drove my hardest, and gave it everything. Driving door-to-door for a win makes it so much more exciting for the fans, and makes it feel so much more earned for my crew and myself.”
TG: “Even though it meant you were guaranteed the championship, were you a bit disappointed when Jack Myers wasn’t able to start the feature race on championship night?”
MT: “We were most definitely disappointed. We went over every single nut and bolt, and checked and rechecked the whole week just to make sure we were 100% ready, because we knew Jack Myers was doing the same thing we were. I remember lots of people hoping for rain that week, but we wanted the sun so we could we could try to win it door-to-door, and not due to something as simple as the weather that night.”
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About Ohsweken Speedway: Founded in 1996, Ohsweken Speedway is a motorsports complex which includes a 3/8 (0.375) mile clay oval. The facility is owned by the Styres family, and located in the village of Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada. Ohsweken’s weekly Friday night racing program runs from May to September each year, featuring Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Cars, Thunder Stocks, HRW Automotive Mini Stocks, and Bombers, while the season finishes each year with the annual Canadian Sprint Car Nationals. Ohsweken Speedway also hosts weekly Micro Sprint racing on Thursday nights, and has been a yearly stop on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series schedule since 2007.
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