Tom Sprague Sr.
Tom Sprague was born December 22, 1954 in Muskegon, MI. He has lived his whole life in Michigan. Tom’s interest in racing started in 1961 (age 7) going to Thunderbird Raceway and watching the races sitting on the hood of his father’s car. During the next decade going to Thunderbird to watch whenever he could. When he was 16 years old his father started Sprague Auto Parts in Muskegon. Racers started visiting the yard to buy parts for their race cars. This allowed him to meet some of the drivers and find out more about building race cars. In 1972 he “Lucked into” a chance to drive a stock car at Thunderbird Raceway. He was helping build a car for an employee at the salvage yard. His chance to drive came when the guy he was helping was drafted into military service. From that point on his whole life has been about cars and racing the short tracks of Michigan.
Raising his 3 children, Tom Jr, Andy, and Kylie were all involved in racing. Tom Jr and Andy as successful drivers and Kylie behind the scenes working at Winston Speedway when her parents purchased the track in 2007 (she was also a huge fan of her dad and brothers!).
Tom graduated from Ferris State College (Auto body repair and trade tech education) and a master’s degree in education from Grand Valley State University. The love of cars lead to teaching Auto Body Repair at Clio High School, Muskegon Tech Center, and 11 years for the Michigan Department of Corrections in Ionia. In 1990 he purchased Sprague Auto Parts,from his parents and still operates it today.
Tom’s racing career spans 5 decades, 5 tracks championships, 75+ feature wins and 200+ heat race wins on dirt and asphalt were accomplished in his career. He currently races 6-8 times a year when he has “spare time” to go racing. Tom cherishes his 1997 Great Lakes Nationals win in the Pro Stock class at Crystal Motor Speedway.
The last 20 years his involvement in racing has been as a car owner and racetrack owner/promoter. 17 track championships as car owner keeps him involved with the “nuts and bolts” part of racing. Purchasing Winston Speedway and jumping in as a track owner was one of the biggest challenges of his racing career. It certainly is a lot harder than it looks to run a weekly short track program. In 2014 Winston was sold and Tom stayed on as promoter for the next 2 years. In 2016 Tom purchased Thunderbird Raceway. After being closed for 3 years it was a huge undertaking. But a lot of hard work has paid off. Thunderbird is up and running with 2021 being its 6th season.
Entering the 2021 season after 49 years of involvement in Michigan short track racing, Tom shows no sign of slowing down. He is currently working on the race schedule for 2021, spending time in the garage working on race cars and waiting for the 2021 season to start in April.