A field of 26 sportsman cars took to the track at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring Fall Classic Nov. 5.
But it was a Williams Lake racer, Korbin Thomas, who escaped with the checkered flag, besting drivers from throughout Canada and the U.S.
Thomas, 38, was born and raised in Williams Lake and graduated from Columneetza secondary. It was during those years he began his racing career.
“I actually started before Thunder Mountain existed,” he joked. “I started out at the old Sugar Cane track years ago around 1989.”
After graduating high school Thomas took a five-year break from racing while obtaining a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Victoria. He now lives just outside of Vancouver; however, his family and some members of his pit crew still live in Williams Lake.
“When I got back out of school I raced a couple years — it’s the OK Tire Sportsman Series now — from 2000 until 2003 while I was living in Vancouver,” he said.
“I’ve been racing on and off throughout the province since then and I’ve just kind of been picking and choosing which late model races and sportsman races I go to.”
His decision to travel to Las Vegas earlier this month proved to be a good one.
“We went last year and finished second in the late model class,” he said, and explained the late model class in Vegas is similar to the OK Tire Sportsman Series cars raced around B.C. “We’re allowed a few more different pieces, but there were actually some OK Tire cars down there.”
Thomas said heading into the race he and his crew had set the goal of finishing with a top-five result.
“Whenever you go to an open race if you can run a top-five finish I think you’re doing pretty well,” he said.
The race itself was 100 laps on an oval called the Las Vegas Bullring. Nine Canadian racers, including Thomas, were entered in the event.
“We got rained out Friday [in qualifying],” he said. “So they had to pack the entire weekend’s events into one day. We qualified in the morning and we ended up being fast qualifier.”
That put Thomas at the front of the field to start the race.
“I’m not a real big fan of starting at the front but we were able to jump out to an early lead. The biggest lead we had was about four car lengths, and that came right near the end. In the meantime it was definitely a fast-paced race.”
The Las Vegas victory comes on the heels of winning the Canada 200 at the Victoria Speedway in September.
Thomas said the support from crew and family members Ernie and Pat Schepenowski (Abbotsford), Dave Key (Abbotsford), Barry and Briggette Clayton (Vernon), Kendall Thomas (Kelowna), Greg Thomas (Williams Lake), Corey Price (Williams Lake) and parents Bonnie and Earl Thomas (Williams Lake) has been phenomenal.
“It’s definitely in my top three biggest wins,” he said.
“Being in the deep south, it’s probably my biggest.”