Hello everyone, I’m Thomas Schrage. I’m a 17-year-old American driver from Bethel, Ohio, and proud to say I’m now a Team USA Scholarship winner!
From a very young age, I dreamed of making a career out of racing. I experienced my first NASCAR race at the age of three, and afterward I found myself driving anything I could get my hands on. My dad, a previous karter, then took me to the old school karting track G&J Kartway in Camden, Ohio, where he raced. When the next racing season came around I began my racing career at age five, competing in the Ohio Valley Karting Association local races. After several wins and championships at the local level, my dad and I decided to move into the national ranks of karting. It would be just us two at the track doing our best to keep up. Looking back on it, I still don’t know how my dad did it all. He would tune two or more karts every race weekend while also playing the role of being my parent. We spent two seasons in the World Karting Association, gathering several pole positions and top-five results. We were fortunate enough to race with Checkered Motorsports in 2017, and after a successful career in karting, I started to look for ways to make the transition to cars.
Once I had my first trial in a formula car with the Lucas Oil School of Racing at NCM Motorsports Park, I learned truly how tough the transition from karts to cars would be. I struggled at first and braking was a weak point that I needed to work on. In karts you normally just smash the pedal whereas in cars you need to get your peak braking pressure and modulate your brake traces.
Shortly after, I got my first taste of Formula Ford racing in my family-owned Swift SE-1. I raced in local SCCA events for a year. Over the 2020 offseason, I was in contact with Greg Rice about racing one of his cars in the Formula Race Promotions series. Although Greg didn’t have any open seats, I kept pushing to find a ride anyway. Finally, the week of an FRP event at PittRace Greg messaged me needing a car filled immediately, so I had to take him up on his offer. After a great weekend, winning the pole in qualifying and finding our way onto the podium, we continued our partnership. These great results continued at two more events where I found myself picking up three wins and three second-place finishes to end the 2021 season.
The current 2022 race season has been one to remember, as I am currently leading the FRP F1600 Championship with six wins and seven second-place finishes. I also dabbled into oval racing with the Kenyon Midget Series and I have learned so much because they are such momentum-based cars compared to the F1600 car. I also went out of my comfort zone and raced on dirt for the first time ever! It was great to sling dirt and challenge my adaptability too! I believe racing on dirt has translated to improved car control in the Formula Ford cars in wet conditions, which has been and will be useful during my time in England.
We just finished testing for the Formula Ford Festival and my first two weeks in England were incredible! I spent two days in Brackley at and near the Ammonite Motorsport shop, and I was surprised to find that it isn’t that different across the world, apart from driving on the other side of the road and car! Almost everyone I encountered during my time in England was happy and enthusiastic about their career.
We then started with two beautiful days at Castle Combe Circuit where I found myself comfortable in the car right away thanks to the Ammonite Motorsport crew who did an amazing job pouring my seat, something I had never had before. Once qualifying ended I would be starting on the pole with only one day in the car which was exciting, to say the least, but I also put up a fight in both races, scoring a second and third-place finish in my first two races in England.
Between testing, I also had the chance to tour Bath, England, and it wasn’t like anything I had ever seen before. From the amazing buildings to the incredible food, it was a great experience for sure! Then we headed to the Pembrey circuit for a two-day test where I continued my fast start and put in some time in wet conditions but at a tricky tight track this time. Next up was Snetterton where I shared the track with Max Esterson. Friday was a true test of my progress, and it’s safe to say I am prepared to give it my all at the festival in two weeks.
As of right now, I am home in the United States preparing for this weekend’s Formula Race Promotions F1600 Championship season finale at PittRace. I am currently leading the F1600 championship by 46 points, but there is still plenty of racing left this season. Then I will be flying back to England to race in the historic Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. I can’t wait!
I’m still taking in everything that has led me to be selected as a Team USA Scholarship winner. It’s also fantastic for me to think I have not only added my name to a long list of historically successful drivers but have joined some of my racing idols on this list as well. I am appreciative of this great opportunity to represent our nation’s red, white and blue colors in England. Thanks to Jeremy Shaw, the Team USA Scholarship, Andy Low, the Ammonite Motorsport crew, AERO Sustainable Paint, Doug Mockett, Cooper Tires, SAFEisFAST.com, and all of the program’s amazing supporters for making this year’s Team USA Scholarship trip possible for not only two but three drivers! I would also like to say a special thank you to my whole family, especially my mom, for supporting me in pursuing my dream. Without their support over the last 13 years, I wouldn’t be the person or driver I am today.