I was ready to sit down this afternoon and bang out something about these piles of metal around the shop. But, before I settled in I saw a post by Mendy Fry, about Tom Shelar and her association with him. A tribute, that choked me up and made me realize why, she is a winner. I have been a fan of hers, since I first read about her in Hot Rod, when she wasn't much older than my youngest is now. Becoming friends with her, brings great pride when I have been able to watch her win. But, after reading her tribute, my heart broke for her and her team. So, without hesitation, I asked her if she would mind using her post in lieu of my nonsense. She graciously said yes.
My deepest condolences to the High Speed Motorsports Team, Tom's family and of course Mendy.
Without further adieu...her words.
"In 2002, Cole Coonce introduced me to Tom Shelar and Frank Rootbeer Hedge as a driver candidate. Then in 2004, after nearly two years of my pestering, Tom and Rootbeer took a gamble and awarded rookie me the seat in the Mastercam Top Fuel car, as part of their two-car team with Sean Bellemeur in the other seat. After licensing, Tom shipped me off to the Midwest on a match-race tour with Rootbeer to learn how to drive one of these things, under the skilled tutelage of Troy Green. Upon return from that crazy campaign, we arrived at CHRR and clocked the first 5-second run for the team, and punched our way deep into the 250 Club. It was a good day, and a nice end to a whirlwind rookie season.
At the end of 2005 due to funding issues, my car was dropped from the HSMS program and I became a free agent. I bounced around in fuelers and nitro funny cars for the next 12 years. Some of them competitive, some of them not so much. Some seasons I was rideless and just crewed on a team. Throughout these years, I stayed tight with Tom and the whole HSMS team; these people were my family, regardless of current non-affiliation with the team.
And then, in 2017, I received a call from Tom. And just like that, I was finally HOME! And the 12 years that had passed seemed like a week. We started the 2017 season by winning the March Meet, which was my first real top fuel win. When the track handed us that amazing trophy, Tom took it, handed it to me, and through tears said "you keep it."
Tom changed my life. Twice.
Tom made me a champion.
Tom was kind. Generous. Fun. Fiercely competitive. Hyper-intelligent. Tough. Vulnerable. Goofy. Compassionate. Wise.
Tom was a proud father to Patrick, and a loving partner to Patrick's mother, Danielle Berger. An affectionate and protective brother to Rick, Carol and Larry. A tremendous leader and mentor to his team and employees. An innovator and principal in his field.
Tom was my dear friend.
I was not the only driver of the HSMS fueler, but I have worked hard, in hopes of earning the right to be the team's last driver. None of us had any idea that it would happen this way, this soon.
As brutal as this realization is, as they say, "the show must go on." At the insistence of Tom's son Patrick, Tom's brother Rick Shelar will be leading our team to Tulsa, to go fight for our second Heritage Series TF championship. Long time friend, driver and team member Troy Green will join Sean Bellemeur as Co-Crew Chiefs, to help HSMS achieve this tremendous goal, and to properly honor and secure the legacy of our fallen leader.
Courtesy of Mendy Fry
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Mendy Fry; Foreward by Eddie Buck