Frank “Corky” Thomas began his Island racing days on motorcycles in the 1930’s, being very competitive against the likes of Frank Bayliss and Bill Rainsford and regularly posted wins and good finishes.
Moving to the automotive side of competition in the late 1930’s and although he had the resources to have first-class equipment, Corky chose to follow his own guidelines and used second-hand parts on his racecars. Starting out in the “Big Car” (Sprintcar) class at Langford Speedway, he later moved along with his fellow racers, to Cobble Hill’s “Shearing Speedway” and then to Western Speedway.
Corky was always one of the more colourful characters in Island racing, much like USAC Indy car driver Eddie Sachs (dubbed the “Clown Prince of Racing”) was. The caption below a photo of Corky and his car which appeared in a 1947 “Saanich and Suburban” newspaper read, “Corky Thomas,one of the most popular drivers at the Langford Speedway, sits in the “Lucky Lady”. Corky and his noisy lady are a combination that has delighted crowds with repeated exhibitions of attempting to pass cars that are just a little bit faster.”. Another from the “Daily Colonist” paper of Sunday, May 21st,1950 stated, “Bundled up fans, however, yelled encouragement to Corkie Thomas, who placed last in the “Lucky Lady”. He had quite a battle with (Dave) Cooper for the position.” An interesting postscript to this one was that three days later, a re-check of the race results showed that Corky had actually finished 3rd in the Main Event, which had been won by Bob Simpson.
An all-around good guy, Corky often opened his shop doors to his fellow racers, ready and willing to lend a hand.
Corky’s involvement lasted until the early 1960’s, at which time he retired from racing, but he did return in August of 1976 for an “Old Timer’s Nite” in which he competed with fellow retired racers in “Hobby Stock” class cars.