He Passed away on Oct 10th 2009 88 years old Bill Thomas will be greatly missed by all BTM members and the entire Auxier family. It was a great pleasure and HONOR to talk about CHEVROLET racing and performance years with Bill. I think back about all our phone conversations and meetings at his home, I have so so many fond memories of our talks; I still smile every time I think of Bill. He would always insert politics into our conversations; thank GOD our thoughts were exactly the same when we talked politics. He then would go into his belief in JESUS. These conversations were the most wonderful. Bill has given me special gifts OF STRENGTH, BELIEF, FAITH, and TRUST IN JESUS. I Will HONOR THIS GIFT FOR LIFE, GOD BLESS THE THOMAS FAMILY.
Bill Lived in Anaheim California. Bill started his career in 1956 with preparing Corvettes to Road Race. Soon after he figured out his highly tuned and modified C.S. Mead Motors Co. Corvettes won 19 1st overall out of 24 races entered in Southern California, he was thrust into preparing some of the most famous Corvette race cars with some of the most famous up and coming drivers in history.
1960/61 Bill was approached by Chevrolet top brass to do performance work on the new Corvair. Bill had Built a few Race Corvairs that were beating everything in its class. He had built the fastest Corvairs in the country. Bill also was working with Chevrolet on the Corvair Proto types. He was also preparing the new 409 Bel-Airs and Biscayne's for setting new Drag Race times. He built one for the Unsers to run Pikes Peak and they won in a Bill Thomas prepared 409 Chevy. Bill worked with Chevrolet top brass for years building special light weight Chevy II's with Corvette Fuel Injection and Corvette IRS rear suspension, Chevrolet Brass was so Impressed they gave Bill the go ahead for 3 Top Secret very special Fast Back 62 Chevy II's that all wound up Drag racing. Allen Green Chevrolet bought the 1st one. Bill's relationship with Vince Piggins and Bunkie Knudsen over the years had sparked a new idea when they heard of the new Cobra that was going to be hitting the race track. This was early 1963 and Bill was given the green light to build 100 Cheetahs to compete against the Cobra. Super light, mid engine; 520 HP 377 CU.IN 1520 lb Cobra Killer. It was tested at the Michigan Proving grounds and Zora Duntov said it was the fastest Lateral acceleration speed ever reached to date at the proving grounds. By this time Bill was in production of Cheetahs. The Cheetah was a Top Secret Program due to the GM Jan 1963 Ban on Racing. Approximate production was 21 Cheetahs. only a hand full of Race cheetahs hit the track. The Cheetah went on to many wins at the Races. But before they were even done testing them, Chevrolet pulled the plug on funding the Cheetah in early 64. Homologation rules changed from 100 production to 1000 needed to be Legal to run against the Cobra. So the Cheetah was forced to run with the fastest cars on the track. But by viewing period pictures the Cheetah was in many front row, second row, third row starting line up. The sad part is the Cheetah was short lived; it ran in 1964 and up to mid year 1965. The fast cat was left with early 63 engineering and no advancements beyond the proto-type stage. The only exception being the disc brakes installed early 65. By 1965 race cars were advancing light years ahead. By the time tires caught up to speed, the Cheetah was an out dated old race car. Bill went on and Built Special Chevy II's for Dick Harrell that were storming the drag strips. Bill was all along testing new high performance parts for Chevrolet. He Produced And Sold Many Special High Performance Parts, Also Created Super Rare Special Performance Chevrolets too.
He sold to Chevrolet, Nickey, Yenko, Mickey Thompson just to mention a few. By the time 1970 came along, Bill Thomas let his Bill Thomas Race Cars Facility close down. It was Located at 510 E Julianna Anaheim California. He had moved on to non automotive ventures. Speed up to June 1994 Bill Thomas Invited me to his home in Anaheim California to show off our 1st built Cheetah. It was a big hit with Thomas and family. Our success started when we ventured into an agreement in Nov 2001 with Bill to build 100 Cheetah Continuation cars.