LETTER: Let’s seize chance to salute Herb Thomas

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 04:59 AM

To the Editor:

A refreshing bit of news with a native son of Sanford finally being recognized for his terrific accomplishments in NASCAR in the early years. Out of some 48 races, Herb Thomas won some 39 in his fabulous Hudson Hornet from 1951 to 1955. We have an opportunity now to not only celebrate the man, the legend and the car used, but something that would translate into a tourist attraction much needed for downtown Sanford.

Recently, Sanford has been fortunate to have a number of car shows at the Depot Park location, with the focal point being our venerable museum and steam locomotive on display. This brings tourism dollars to local merchants and has other people be more inclined to come back to Sanford again. Looking at the picture in The Herald of the make of vehicle made most famous by his major victories, there is a relatively easy car to “reproduce” to put on a static display at the Depot Park location. Here is a car made in large numbers before Hudson, as others, saw the handwriting on the wall and discontinued vehicle production.

Obtain a like Hudson Hornet and paint it in the typical colors that Herb Thomas used, mount it on a pedestal to be in the air at a racing angle, and make a large plaque commemorating in brief Herb Thomas and his accomplishments in NASCAR.

This project should not prove to be astronomical in cost, as there is no expensive tube-built frame, nor special tires with racing rims or time-consuming, purpose-built car. Grab a rust-free Hudson, which does not have to be running, sandblast it, prepare it like in the 1950s ... and put it in the park. The golden opportunity is here.

... Some have said that, “Today’s mistakes will later prove to be tomorrow’s regrets.” Let us not take [for granted] this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to promote a true local legend, but also the attraction and beauty that is Sanford.

The gauntlet has been set down. Will someone take up the challenge and enrich the memory of Herb Thomas, with his NASCAR record-breaking records, or will this chance be lost forever? Time will tell. Who might be up to the challenge? In this case, like so many others, the clock is ticking ... .

George J. Wilberg