Eddie Thomas

Top Fuel pioneer


Eddie Thomas is affectionately known as the Big Daddy of Australian drag racing.

Not for wins in major titles but for a series of ‘firsts’ in the 1960s that saw Thomas lift the sport out of its infancy to a new level of professionalism.

Starting at the age of 46 in 1964, Thomas drag raced for just four years.

He was the first to go into the nine second bracket and break 150mph for the quarter mile in 1965.

That was in his famous supercharged Chrysler engined Old Number 17, the first American style, front-engined aluminium bodied dragster in Australia.

His other Australian firsts included making his own flame-proof suits and using parachutes for braking.

In 1966 he was the first Australian with an 8.84 second pass at the new Surfers Paradise Raceway. Soon after he posted a new record top speed of 178mph.

At the 1968 Nationals at Calder, Thomas posted a career best 8.55 seconds and retired from competition shortly after.

Before drag racing Thomas was a post-war speedcar star in dirt track racing at Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Speedway.

In 1956 Thomas converted his home garage cam grinding business into Eddie Thomas Speed Equipment, a business that transformed the speed equipment market in Australia; another first.