Team says Goodbye to Tom Howell

MARSTONS MILLS, Massachusetts (September 11, 2018) – It was beautiful and memorable weekend for the Permatex/Follow A Dream Top Alcohol Funny Car Team at the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional event at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire.

Although the team did not get to close in on the Divisional title they were hoping for, they still had an unforgettable weekend at their home track. In a memorial qualifing run, Burkart carried the ashes of the team’s original tuner, Tom Howell to the finish line. Tommy passed away in early July after a long and courageous battle with ALS.

Team owner Jay Blake recalled “Tommy helped me build Follow A Dream to what it is today. We took his ashes on the final qualifying pass, which was a huge honor and incredibly meaningful to all of us. Tommy was like a brother to me, and we’re all going to miss him dearly.” Tom’s family was there along with his fellow racers to witness the pass and ceremony.

Unfortunately, the team made an early exit in the first round of eliminations, losing to eventual event runner-up Dan Pomponio. Follow A Dream driver Phil Burkart recorded a run of 6.015 seconds at 264.96 mph. Burkhart got the jump, but number one qualifier Pomponio took the win with a run of 5.492 seconds at 263.36 mph.

“We qualified sixth and we lost first round,” team owner Jay Blake said. “It really hurt us, because we were hoping to close in on the divisional title, which we won last year and were hoping to win again this year.”

Blake and the rest of the Follow A Dream team have quickly put New England in their rearview mirrors, both literally and figuratively. Blake and the team left there headed to Reading, Pennsylvania, which is the home of this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

“After a race like New Hampshire, you have to review and look at everything you’re doing, go over things with a fine-tooth comb to see if something moved or if you’re missing something. We have to figure out why the car is not performing like we all know it can.” Blake said. “As for Maple Grove, I’m hoping we won’t have to deal with weather issues from the hurricane (Hurricane Florence) coming.”

Maple Grove is a special place for Jay Blake because he was there 20 years ago, shortly after he was blinded in an industrial accident. It was on that trip that he decided he was going to follow his own dream and start the Follow A Dream organization. His Racing and Motivational Speaking Program continues to this day, stronger than ever. In fact, Blake will be speaking to over 1000 students on Tuesday at Universal Technical Institute in Exton, Pa

“It’s pretty incredible, what we’ve accomplished, and where we’ve come from,” Blake said. “Not only with Follow A Dream, but on the track, it’s been a challenging year, but then I think that we’re number two in the division and we’re in the top 10 in the country. There’s a lot of people that would be absolutely thrilled to do what we’ve done.”

“It’s been a heck of a run,” Blake said. “We’ve accomplished a lot more than we ever dreamed, but there’s still a lot more out there for us to achieve. We’re following a dream.”

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