Nitrous Oxide (N2O), has been a efficiency enhancer to piston-driven engines going all the best way again to World Warfare II. The man behind the widespread use of Nitrous Oxide in dragsters and avenue racers with NOS is Mike Thermos. Whereas Mike isn’t a family title, within the automobile world, his contribution is revered.
Think about the scene within the very first The Quick and the Livid the place we’re launched to Brian O’Connor, who working as an undercover cop out of a velocity store. The teenager wants an add-on edge in avenue racing. “I would like NOS!”
Earlier than 1978, it was a well-kept secret to a couple racers in NASCAR and “doorslammer” dragsters – but additionally had the potential to soften an engine if not used correctly. Thermos and companion Dale Vaznaian made it environment friendly, fairly and efficient, leading to nice success and widespread use.
“I want I used to be youthful… I’d do it once more,” declares the 76-year-old pioneer.
He and his companion offered NOS to Holley in 1999. Within the settlement, there was a 5 12 months no-compete clause. Neddless to say, Thermos is again within the enterprise – albeit at a barely smaller scale — with Nitrous Supply, nonetheless making vehicles sooner.
He tells us his story…
“Nicely, nitrous oxide was, was type of an underground trick for among the guys. They’d discovered that you would be able to squirt just a little bit in, and it picked the automobile up. In NASCAR, they used the stuff for a few years.”
“It got here from the Germans truly, throughout World Warfare II, the place they’d put it within the planes that may go excessive altitude, they wanted oxygen. However then the jet got here in and the jet took over and all of the know-how type of simply fell by the wayside for propeller kind of aircraft. The Individuals did it too. I learn all that historical past on it. On the time, I had a tune-up store and a humorous automobile. I had been by way of the entire gamut and it was consuming me out of home and residential.”
Close to the top of his personal racing profession, Thermos discovered enlightenment.
“My spouse was bitching at me trigger all her cash was stepping into for the rattling automobile. It’s like having a nasty lady (laughs). So, there was three of us guys within the automobile and racing. The humorous automobile’s prices had been escalating. It was attending to be that in the event you didn’t have an additional million bucks, you’re not going to compete. Prudhomme and MacEwan, they acquired Mattel. When you couldn’t contact them, they acquired all of the trick stuff and also you couldn’t compete in any respect. I acquired out of the race scene, it took me about six months to get it out of the blood. It’s such as you’re an alcoholic. Lastly in the future you get up and also you go that’s essentially the most stupidest factor on the earth that I attempted to beat these guys. You’re not gonna beat them.”
“I used to be about 35 years outdated and I began to see all of it quiet down. I had just a little tune-up store doing tune-ups and brakes. I had a pair hundred bucks in my pocket on a regular basis. I taught just a little auto store class at night time faculty at an area school. It was a token deal, however I didn’t prefer it. It was a ache within the ass to go over there and it was simply that college board factor. The methods you needed to undergo. And I used to be an excessive amount of of a insurgent, to concentrate and salute everyone.”
“Then I learn a narrative about this man close to the place I lived in Torrance (California) was doing these nitrogen kits, underground type of. He’d take outdated CO2 bottles and he’d cobble them up and purchase junk yard stuff and he’d construct these kits. I went over there and talked to them. I had a fairly good schooling on fuels from the humorous vehicles and stuff. I knew that gas made horsepower.”
“I purchased a package. It price about 350 bucks. I put it on my Corvette, and I drove it. It kinda labored, however then it could shut off and it wouldn’t work. The bottle strain would get heat, the solenoid wouldn’t open and stuff like that. So, I began figuring it out. I wrapped extra wires round it. Nicely, it labored, and I assumed, that stuff’s easy. It’s only a couple holes there and a solenoid and a bottle and steal gas off the gas rail. What’s to those? You might construct this factor in a ironmongery store and that’s what it’s.”
So started an enlightened thought.
“I had a buddy of mine (Dale Vaznaian) who was hanging across the store — he was a vagabond too. He’d promote used vehicles and stuff and race vehicles. And I stated, Dale, you bought any cash? He lived up in Palos Verdes, so I figured he had a couple of bucks. He would all the time hold round my store and use my hoists to vary his oil and every little thing and we turned buddies. He had just a little Flathead dragster and I’d exit with him and assist him on his dragster.
“I proposed we construct this stuff. Let’s simply go down and get that tubing and drill some holes in it and discover out the solenoid. It is a scorching little trick. And, he says, certain, I’ve acquired a 1000 bucks. So, I stated, okay, I’ll get 1000 bucks, throw it within the financial institution and shake palms.”
“We had a buddy that painted the race vehicles. I requested if he could make us a brand? And he drew N-O-E for Nitrous Oxide Engineering. I stated, properly, we’re not engineers so do one thing else. So he drew N-O-S like that. I stated, yeah, that type of seems just like the image for nitrous oxide. We turned Nitrous Oxide Methods.”
So started the legend.
“We’d pores and skin pack the package. Numerous the blokes had been beginning to do that stuff out of the again of their storage. However we painted ours, had our bottles painted very nice, put chrome valves on them — actually gingerbread every little thing up.”
The package was marketed behind automobile magazines and commenced promoting just a little.
“Then I went to Scorching Rod journal and dropped one off. The editor got here out and stated ‘Wow! What a pleasant piece that’s. I simply did a narrative although, so I can’t do a narrative on you guys.’ However anyway, I acquired acquainted with the man, C J Baker an actual likable man.”
Within the course of, C J Baker would get Mike and Dale concerned in a pyramid scheme that was going across the Petersen publishing places of work amongst the staff – extremely popular within the 1970s with the promise of rising your cash by getting others to speculate as properly – now outlawed. The duo misplaced about $5000, their complete funding within the scheme.
“Nicely, C J Baker calls me and he says, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. You understand, I roped you into this factor.’ He in all probability thought we had been going to go to Mr. Peterson and rat him out, saying ‘this man sucked us in and we would like our a refund and all this…’ I informed him, ‘Hey, we’re large boys. You understand, don’t fear about it.”
“We had 5 grand left within the financial institution. Nicely CJ calls us again an hour later and says, ‘I inform you what, get all of your stuff, deliver it up right here. I’m going to provide you guys a narrative.’ He places 5 – 6 pages in Scorching Rod journal. Holy shit! That’s value $50,000 – $75,000 and the telephone begins ringing.”
“We begin constructing kits and away we go. It was then we began actually believing within the worth of promoting and promotion. It was the type of product that shoves you within the again seat.”
Promotion then results in sponsorship – and proper again into racing.
Subsequent week Mike tells the story of how NOS hit the mainstream and the way a rag-tag grease monkey turned a $multi-million enterprise.