Coming off their most successful ARCA season Thomas “Moose” Praytor and his family owned Max Force Racing will celebrate their 20th year of racing in 2017.
To commemorate the milestone, the Mobile, Alabama based team will display a special 20th Anniversary logo during the 2017 season. With help from CGS Imaging the 20th logo was designed with its roots based in Alabama, the red bars of the Alabama State flag and the outline of the State of Alabama at the top. The left side has Tommy Praytor’s original “Fatboy Racing” Logo with the right side carrying the now familiar Moose logo used by Thomas “Moose” Praytor.
“I never thought about 20 years, I was lucky to get through 20 laps!” said Tommy Praytor. “I didn’t know anything about racing when I started, we had a lot of help getting us going. I still have the first toolbox Brian Yarber took me to Sears to buy. It’s about 8 inches high, our toolbox now is 6 feet tall and 10 feet long.”
Between Tommy and Thomas, Max Force Racing has amassed over 75 wins in the past 20 years including, Track Championships, State Championship, Multiple US Army Rookie of the Year Honors and in the last 4 seasons of ARCA competition has posted a top 10 finish each season with a top 5 in 2016.
“I’ve been able to realize every racing dream I ever had. I’ve raced at Daytona 4 times, Talladega 5 times, Pocono 8 times the list just keeps going of great places that I’ve had the chance to race at,” offered Thomas Praytor. “Everywhere I go I use the racing lessons I learned back at Mobile International Speedway. I was so lucky to get to race with the guys my Dad raced with, Okie Mason, Jessie Reid, Donnie Hamrac, Howard Langham, Steven Davis those guys schooled me every week.”
While Tommy and Thomas have garnered the headlines over the last 20 years the key to the team’s success has been the ladies Julie and Hayley Praytor. A family owned and run team Thomas’s Mom, Julie and Sister, Hayley have played an important role in the teams chemistry and success.
Julie is a converted racer that had to be convinced twice to come to the race track with the family. “I really never went when Tommy raced, I thought he was dumb for doing it and I really didn’t like it. When Thomas started racing he kept after me until I started going when he raced.” Julie soon became a fixture and her “Chad” sandwiches still go to the racetrack every week. Then she had to be convinced again.
In 2003 Thomas wrecked hard enough to be air lifted out of the racetrack and spent the next week in a coma, the doctors made the Moose sit out a year, his Momma had decided he was done forever and she would never go to the track again. Long story short Thomas went racing, Tommy spent a month on the couch and Julie eventually came back to the track. Today she makes all the hotel reservations, loads the ice chest and prepares the food before the team goes to the track. When she’s at the track “Chad” (nickname as in Chad Knaus) will quickly tell the team how they need to fix the car.
Thomas was having success in a racecar, while his twin sister Hayley was making bigger news on the softball diamond. A five year starter in high school led to four years at Huntingdon College and a Division Championship. The twins schedules have always overlapped including Thomas’s first start at Talladega was the same weekend as Hayley’s Graduation from Huntingdon.
While Softball was Hayley’s first priority, the family’s race team was a close second. With her athletic skills she has been called on regularly to work on the car and has been known to change tires when needed. Her biggest contributions have been in the team’s social media, public relations and sponsor areas. In 2016 the team received over 7 million views on twitter alone. “I still love to compete and the race team gives me a great outlet but more importantly I enjoy the people. From Mobile to ARCA we just have this great group of people that we get to be around at the track. Plus someone has to keep my Dad in line.”
Having a family run team is code for being on a budget. The team’s success has always depended on a heavy group of volunteers, in the last 4 ARCA Series seasons that’s an all-volunteer UNOH pit crew led by Adam Lowe. An unknowing Lowe signed on in 2013 at Daytona, 81 consecutive races later the Michigan native is leading the crew for the Alabama based team and will make the move to LA (Lower Alabama) after graduating in March.
“The key to our success has been the people. We have been able to create an atmosphere where talented people have contributed their time and knowledge to making our race-team a success,” said Tommy Praytor. “Thomas has done a tremendous job taking our race team forward to places I could only dream about 20 years ago. Hopefully he’ll keep me around long enough where I can get one of those scooters like Big Bill Venturini.”
First order of business for year 20 is testing at the World Center of Speed, Daytona International Speedway, for the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire.