Thompson was at the wheel of the High Speed Motorsports dragster this year at Boise.  (Brian Losness photo)

The return of Brad Thompson to Boise’s Firebird Raceway for this season’s Ignitor is one filled with determination and emotion. In 2006 Brad Thompson took the Top Fuel title at the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals and then again in 2008 Brad once again made it to the final round against Jim Murphy at the wheel of the WWII Top Fueler.

In that 2008 race, Thompson recalls leaving the starting line and the car drifting to the right and being able to bring it back into the groove but from there he doesn’t recall anything that transpired. Brad says he has seen the video and after the car got back to the center of the groove it made one more move to the right connected with the guardrail, which blew the rear tire and then sent the car careening out of control, flipping it over and hitting the opposite side guardrail backwards and sliding upside, finally coming to a rest far down the Firebird shutdown area.

Thompson was cut out of the mangled car by the Firebird Fire Safety Team and spent several days in a Boise hospital, then was transported back to California for the remainder of his recovery, a recovery that by his own admission was done far too quickly.

(Darr Hawthorne photo)

“I kinda pushed it,” he said. “I went too fast. You know, I wanted back in pretty badly, but I should have waited a year, and I think it was little over six months when I got back in.” 

But wanting to drive was having an adverse effect on his health. Thompson said it affected him just being in the car. “It was hurting me pretty bad, it would hurt to get strapped it, it would hurt when the chutes came out.” There were also effects of being strapped into the car. Thompson would lose feeling in his leg and lower parts of his torso, something that still occurs but not as badly.

Then came Brett Johanson, crew chief of the High Speed Motorsports Nostalgia Top Fuel dragster. Brett and Brad started talking after former driver Troy Green stepped out of the ride, and the two were able to make a deal to run the car.

“This is a great team and I was able to bring over a couple of my guys and it seems to be working out very nicely,” said Thompson.

The return to Boise’s Firebird Raceway at the May Ignitor race was emotional. Thompson admitted to having a lump in his throat when he pulled into the facility.