For Walter Thomas III, the youngest of four siblings from Indianapolis, Indiana, auto racing is in his blood. It’s a generational thing going back to his grandfather, and his father, who were both race car drivers.

“I fell in love with the sport at a very young age. Some of my very first memories of life were of being at the race track with my father back when he used to race,” recalls Thomas, a freshman at Winston-Salem State University. “As time went on, my dad noticed that I had taken a liking to the sport and decided to give me a shot.”

Thomas’ first taste of racing was at the age of 4, behind the wheel of a quarter midget, a developmental race car for children. He advanced from racing quarter midgets to junior dragsters (a scaled-down version of a top fuel dragster, which can reach speeds of up to 85 mph), and from junior dragsters to bandoleros (a type of entry-level racing in the United States and Canada, where cars can reach in excess of 50 mph, but do not accelerate very quickly. Cars are built like miniature stock cars, with a tube frame and sheet metal cage).

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