N.C. 87 To Honor Race Driver Herb Thomas

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Dedication ceremony to be set later this year for Harnett racer.

RALEIGH — For 13 years, racing legend Herb Thomas lapped his competitors and racked up stock-car wins on his way to joining several racing halls of fame.

Soon, a stretch of N.C. 87 will be christened the Herb Thomas Highway in his native Harnett County.

The N.C. Board of Transportation approved Thursday a resolution dedicating the portion of N.C. 87 between Bullard Road and the Harnett/Lee county line after Mr. Thomas. He competed in 230 NASCAR races in a career that began in 1949, winning 48 of them and capturing 38 pole positions.

In 1998, Mr. Thomas was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, and in 2013, he was inducted into NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. His name also graces the annals in other such prestigious organizations as the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

“Herb Thomas was one of NASCAR’s earliest superstars and the first driver to win two NASCAR premier series championships (1951 and 1953),” said Winston Kelley, NASCAR Hall of Fame’s executive director. “A tribute like this is a true testa- See Race, Page 3A

Herb Thomas of Olivia was the 13th winningest NASCAR driver.

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ment to the lasting legacy that he has had on both the sport and his community.”

Mr. Thomas was born April 6, 1923, and grew up on the family farm in the Olivia community of western Harnett County where the section of N.C. 87 will be dedicated. He passed away in 2000.

One of his nephews, Mike Thomas of Olivia, said his uncle liked bragging about his home community when he traveled around the United States.

“Everybody who grew up around here thought he was a local hero,” Mike Thomas said. “Olivia was a very special place to him.”

Herb Thomas began racing after seeing modified racing cars in Greensboro in 1947, and he won his first race in Martinsville, Va., three years later. He ranks 13th on the NASCAR all-time wins list.

The dedication request came from the Harnett County Board of Commissioners to express gratitude for his life and career. Signs will be made and a ceremony will be held sometime this summer.

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