Although, to be honest, he never left.
George Thomas has been the track announcer and publicist at Hermon’s Speedway 95 for its Wacky Wednesday racing card ever since the inception of the entry-level class 10 years ago.
He has also returned this season to call the action and serve as publicist for the weekend race programs in addition to Wacky Wednesdays, replacing Bill Butler.
And if that isn’t enough, he has a full-time job overseeing supervisors handling unemployment claims in their Orono, Presque Isle and Augusta offices and also works on his son Mike’s Super Late Model Chevy Monte Carlo when he gets a chance.
The Thomases race in the Pro All-Stars Series’ Super Late Model North Division but intend to pick and choose races and not race for points.
Race track announcers, unlike public address announcers in other sports, call the action as it is happening.
They don’t wait until a goal or a basket is scored or a penalty is assessed to announce who scored or who was penalized or wait until a play is completed in football to let people know who carried the ball and who made the tackle or who’s stepping into the batter’s box in baseball or softball.
That’s why you’ll find Thomas in the pits or the pit tower before races to obtain information he can relay to the fans as a race is being held. He will also intersperse some humor while calling a race.
“You need to know your stuff,” said the 61-year-old Thomas. “You don’t only need to know who the drivers are, you need to inform the fans what is going on. Sometimes the information might get repetitious but there are always new people in the stands. And there’s always somebody new [racing] here.”
Thomas enjoys being involved in racing and has served in several roles at Speedway 95 since 1971 including flag man in addition to announcer.
He enjoys being involved in the sport and what each race night provides.
He considers Wacky Wednesdays to be “grass roots, anything-goes racing.”
The drivers are more experienced and polished on the weekends and Thomas said when they also have the NELCAR Legends cars, the Wicked Good Vintage Racing series and the Mini-Cup cars, it “adds a lot to the program.”
He recognizes that track announcers are also part of the show.
“Announcers can make a big difference. I enjoyed listening to the announcer at Beech Ridge [Motor Speedway in Scarborough] while we were in the pits for the [PASS] race last weekend,” said Orono native Thomas, the father of three.
His son, Mike, lives in Lewiston and also works for his father and Mike’s brother, Jon, comes up from New York City to help out on race day.
“It’s nice because it’s something we can do together and I get a chance to see them,” said Thomas.
Mike finished second and fourth in points in two seasons in the PASS Outlaws division before that division was eliminated a year ago.
PASS heading to Unity on May 16
The PASS North Super Late Models, Mods and Sportsman have the weekend off but will hit their third Maine track for their third race program on Saturday, May 16, at Unity Raceway.
Racing will begin at 3 p.m.
The series has already raced at Speedway 95 and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.
After those races, Farmington’s Cassius Clark is leading the SLM points with 436, one more than Hallowell’s Johnny Clark and Brunswick’s Chris Staples. Johnny Clark and Staples have wins. The top five drivers are separated by just four points.
The Mods points find Waterboro’s Scott Grant with a four-point lead over Jerry Harrison of Freeport and a five-point lead over Stephen Bennett Jr. of Buckfield. Bennett and Hermon’s Greg Ellis, sitting sixth in the points, 10 behind Grant, have taken the checkered flags.
Dan McKeage of Gorham leads the Sportsman points by nine over Denmark’s Carey Martin and 10 over Oakland’s Michael Landry. Levant’s Shane Tatro is fifth, 35 points behind McKeage.
McKeage and Martin own victories.
There is a PASS South SLM race tonight at the Wake County Speedway in Raleigh, N.C. The Capital City 150 will feature Turner’s Ben Rowe, the points leader thanks to two wins in the first three races.
Cassius Clark is also scheduled to race.