That dream was realized for Joe Tharp Jr., aka Double O Joe from Waynesburg, Pa., when he crossed the finish line to capture the Sportsman Championship at the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.
Article provided by the International Hot Rod Association.
“I couldn’t believe I was actually a World Champion,” said Tharp Jr. “When I saw division 3 director Jon O’Neal (aka Jonny O), I thought back to the winner’s circle at the IHRA Summit Team Finals at Keystone Raceway Park and hearing him tell me that he would see me in Memphis. He (Jonny O) had a feeling I was going to win, and that dream came true.”
Tharp Jr. has been going to the track with his father Joe Tharp Sr., since was 2 years old instilling the racing bug in him and raising him at the racetrack.
That 1970 Oldsmobile 442 that helped Tharp Jr., capture the IHRA Summit SuperSeires World Finals win has been upgraded over the years boasting a 455 Oldsmobile engine bored .030 over. It carries a Turbo 400 Vickers Performance Transmission and a 12 bolt GM Rear-end.
“I started making time trials in the car at 12-years-old,” said Tharp Jr. “When I turned 16, my father graciously stepped away from racing and let me pursue my dream starting my career at Fairmont Dragway in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1994.”
For Tharp Jr., bracket racing is a true love for he and his family by meeting many great racers and people at the racetrack.
Despite all the connections at the track, multiple race wins and class championships one thing remained as a constant goal for Tharp Jr., in winning the IHRA Summit Team Finals. That goal was finally achieved in 2011 when he pulled on the Sportsman win at the IHRA Division 3 Summit Team Finals.
“In 2018 I won the Sportsman Championship at Keystone Raceway Park,” Tharp Jr. said. “However, when I showed up to Memphis my car was hurt despite trying to fix it in the weeks leading up to the IHRA Summit World Finals. With my car hurt I ended up racing my tow vehicle and exiting in the first round of competition.”
While 2020 has been a down year for many, Tharp Jr., made the most of it and pulled off an impressive feat in winning the Modified and Sportsman championships at Keystone Raceway Park and took home the Sportsman Race of Champions and main event win at the IHRA Division 3 Summit Team Finals.
“This has been a dream season to say the least and never would have expected to have the success I did this year,” Tharp Jr. said. “Coming to Memphis and winning the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals is just the icing on the cake.”
In winning the IHRA Summit SuperSeries Sportsman Championship, Tharp Jr., won $7,000 from Summit Racing Equipment, a seven-night/eight-day vacation for two on the island of Aruba, a world championship diamond ring, a world championship Ironman Trophy and IHRA Gold Card.
“I have gotten so many calls and texts from everyone at home congratulating me on the win,” said Tharp Jr. “The best part of winning is that I can provide my fiancée Crystal the honeymoon we could have only dreamed of with the trip to Aruba.”
“I have to thank the IHRA and Summit Racing Equipment first and foremost for their support of the racers,” said Tharp Jr. “Most of all I need to thank my parents for their love and support, my son Joseph Tharp, my daughter Calista Tharp, my fiancée Crystal who always goes to my races and for being my biggest supporter win or lose.”
Among the many supporters for Tharp Jr., are Mark Brewer and Mike Egan at FatHead Performance, Big Brewer Lane, Keystone Raceway Park. Mike and Albert Donell, Dion Vickers at Vickers Performance Transmission, cousins Bruce Tharp Jr., and Chris Tharp.
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