Mike Thermos: The father of NOS Part 2 | ClassicCars.com Journal

Mike Thermos: The daddy of NOS Half 2 | ClassicCars.com Journal


Half 2: Mainstream Success (Read Part 1 Here)

Using Nitrous Oxide (N2O) was about to blow up – actually and figuratively. Mike Thermos and his enterprise associate Dale Vaznaian simply received an unimaginable increase from an expansion in Scorching Rod Journal, the place they rapidly discovered the worth of promotion and promoting. Now it was time to become involved in racing and expose the products.

Banned by NHRA

The sanctioning physique of huge time professional drag racing feared the go quick product, and Don Prudhomme was a catalyst to the ban.

Holley photograph

Thermos continues his story, “We went over to NHRA and in these days I used to be an outdated gearhead and I knew all of the humorous automobile guys and the whole lot. So, they have been dropping cylinders once they go away the beginning. They didn’t have the magnetos they’ve immediately. So we constructed kits for humorous automobiles and we had ’em on Billy Meyer and (Kenny) Bernstein’s automobile, with Dale Armstrong and Blue Max. And we might simply trickle in a little bit little bit of nitrous and it will assist mild the nitro and the automobile would drop the cylinder as a result of they have been so wealthy. Whereas we have been doing all that and so they went again to Indy. We’re getting all this good ink and the whole lot and the corporate’s rising. Then (Don) Prudhomme reveals up. I knew his mechanic, however I didn’t know Prudhomme on the time. And he reveals up and he’s received a little bit bottle within the entrance of the chassis and he’s received it piped into the gas pump.

“Billy Meyer comes working over to me and he goes, ‘what’s he doing? What’s he doing? Mike, is that your stuff?’ I had nitrous on Billy’s automobile. He would are available in and bum nitrous on a regular basis.

“I get it on Prudhomme’s automobile, he sees me, he comes over, and he goes, ‘I received it on the outdated man’s automobile now.’ And I am going, ‘man, that don’t make sense, what are you doing? You’re faking everyone out with that factor within the gas pump?’  ‘No, I’m freezing the nitro and it offers me an enormous step.”

Nitrous bottles are available in many sizes and styles for a lot of completely different functions

“He goes and makes his run and he runs two tenths faster than the sphere and (the quickest) within the historical past of the game. And he hand grenades the pistons proper out of the factor, on the thousand foot mark. However he comes again, he’s received low ETs and individuals are coming across the automobile. Indy, The Nationals, they need know, if they will begin calling this factor the ‘nitrous nationals.’ This was nice. I’m getting all this good ink. Though each lap he retains breaking it. Then all my different guys are going, ‘Thermos, what’s he doing? What we need to try this too.’

“I am going over there and I say, ‘that don’t make sense.’ So, I watch him on the beginning line and I get in there, contained in the rope, and I’m standing a couple of ft from the monitor. And Prudhomme is within the automobile and so they’re lighting them off for the following qualifying try. I watch (his mechanic) go to the bottle, a little bit bottle within the automobile, within the entrance, the chassis earlier than they put the physique down and the man fakes placing it on. I watch his hand because it goes, like he’s placing it on, then he places the physique down and I simply hold my mouth shut. Let’s see what occurs. (Prudhomme) blows it up once more and now everyone says, ‘it’s nitrous. He’s received nitrous, but it surely’s destroying his automobile each time it goes down the course. Then after the race, NHRA, I knew the child that was the tech man, we went to highschool collectively, and he goes, ‘Mike, they need to ban this nitrous stuff from NHRA.’ And we ask all the fellows and so they don’t know something about it and it’s blown up the motor. Effectively then I step up and say, ‘He didn’t have nitrous.’ (They reply) ‘Oh yeah? Who’re you? Oh, you promote nitrous?  You’re biased! You’re going to inform us that.’ Anyway, they ban nitrous from NHRA.”

A blessing in disguise

The NHRA was the massive present, however the IHRA wanted a cool class to draw an even bigger following. NOS answered the decision. Professional-modified grew to become a door-slammer main attraction for the fledgling collection.

“However that was a blessing in disguise as a result of we went over to IHRA. They wanted assist. They knew they have been second string. And so we walked round within the pits and stated, ‘the highest sportsman courses are a bracket class, however have a look at the automobiles which can be in right here! These are all two-year-old pro-stock automobiles. And actually, these automobiles have gotten some potential. Let’s see if we are able to put nitrous on.”

“So we put nitrous on them and so they went nearly a second faster — and so they didn’t blow up! They ran. We went 200 miles an hour earlier than anyone went 200. So then I went to the administration there, Ted Jones, and this was occurring largely again on that facet of the Mississippi. Jones wasn’t positive. Lastly, after about three months, he requested me if I might assist it. I stated, ‘yeah.”

“You dial in. You bought 32 automobiles, what a bracket is. After which on Sunday all of them race, however any person will get a lead and so they chase one another down. I stated, these guys received quicker automobiles for that. Buddy Ingersoll with a turbocharged Buick, a 57 Chevy, Invoice Coleman, Charlie Carpenter, and all these actual huge engine Southern boys in 55 Chevy’s. So we put nitrous on and so they began to essentially click on — went a second faster. So, I stated ‘we’ll sponsor it, we’ll do a fast eight on Saturday evening in entrance of the group. Allow us to have that point.’ Lastly, Ted says, nicely, you go arrange it. Go down there and get the have a look at the map and take the short eight guys and put a present on at eight o’clock at evening. It was a night race and we did it and introduced the home down.”

“There have been some trick automobiles. So, then (Jones) says ‘okay.’ We gave him, I believe, $500 to the winner and it began going and fairly quickly it received larger and larger. Then they got here to us and stated, ‘we’re going to name it ‘professional modified.’ We’re going to have a 16 automobile present, it’s going to be in any respect our occasions and we’re going to go together with that. So, we have been behind it. We’d have 11 or 12 of the 16 qualifiers. We have been on cloud 9. We have been getting all of the publicity and we knew racing laborious sufficient that the fellows out of the garages couldn’t compete, not solely with the expertise we have been doing, however financially we’d do adverts ‘so and so wins’ unfold in all of the magazines in these days.”

“And the nitrous began to return up and we in all probability had 90% of the market. So we saved going and the warehouses like Summit began shopping for. We had 35 folks working for us. We purchased a constructing proper down on the runway of Orange County (John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California). We have been cooking and not one of the huge corporations got here after us as a result of they thought it was sort of black magic and blew up your engine. They figured they didn’t need to get that stigma. So that they stayed away.”

Holley Comes Knocking

It was 1999 and NOS was promoting like loopy, however then a suitor, within the type of a conglomerate of aftermarket elements, made them a proposal laborious to refuse.

“We didn’t care. We have been only a bunch of loopy scorching rodders and we had nothing to lose. Let’s simply seize the ball and go up area. It saved going and going. Lastly, Holley got here to us and we have been doing, Oh God, nearly $15 million a 12 months. Fairly good for a few yahoo drag racers. However we have been placing rather a lot again into the business although.”

“Holley provides a ton of cash for it. Effectively, shit, perhaps we must always promote it. I used to be about 55 years outdated. So, we offered it, and had a ‘don’t compete’ for 5 years. They gave me a consulting settlement for 2 years. So I flew again to Bowling Inexperienced (Kentucky). They moved the whole lot again there. I attempted to inform them the right way to run it, however company was too robust, typical company deal. They pulled all of the halfway off with the entire freebies and all of the sponsorships — and that’s what drove it. I imply that’s a stronger market. Anyway, the gross sales went within the tank.”

They parked NOS now within the storage. They don’t even hardly promote it anymore. They purchased different corporations and it’s this huge conglomerate now. And once they purchased us, they’d offered this system for $150 million and so they purchased Earl’s, they purchased Hooker Headers.  They purchased all these. They all the time purchased the highest corporations. They purchased nitrous, however then they bankrupted it and so they all received 10 cents on the greenback, some 5 or 6 years later.”

Thermos begins Nitrous Provide

By no means one to sit down nonetheless for lengthy, Mike Thermos began a brand new nitrous enterprise – and is correct again at it.

“However then they regrouped and so they offered extra and so they hold doing that. (Holley) got here to us, purchased it and we offered it and actually I waited out my 5 years. I used to be nonetheless a gearhead. I nonetheless pursued it, , not preventing. We have been set now financially fairly good. However I really like the drag racing and the fellows and we got here out with new merchandise that I invented so to talk. I couldn’t sit. My spouse was driving me loopy sitting at residence for 5 years. I simply wished to get out of the home, Jesus!”

“So, I opened this little place (Nitrous Supply) up, we had 50,000 sq. ft down there proper on the runway. When Holley paid us, we went down the financial institution, we owed like two and a half million bucks on it and we simply paid it off, paid the word up. We ended up promoting the constructing for like $9 million. All the sudden our accountant tells us, ‘nicely you have got capital features.’ What? How a lot? So we purchased an entire mall sort of deal down there proper by the place we have been on the nook. It’s simply all leased out and we received a administration firm.

“I did Nitrous Provide as a sort of a interest. What occurred is we received into refills. The bottles are getting stuffed proper now. I received about seven or eight velocity outlets all the way in which as much as Riverside and all the way in which as much as Beverly Hills that promote nitrous and so they purchase the stuff. The truck comes and so they load the bottles. They’ll load about 50 bottles on and so they, after which they promote it to the fellows for refill and the off-road guys.”

The Quick & The Livid

NOS would turn out to be a family title by means of the recognition of The Quick & The Livid franchise, Thermos and his associate had offered the corporate to Holley, however have been nonetheless instrumental in placing the product within the film.

“Common known as and I stated, ‘inform them to piss off.”

“I stated, they’d been getting stuff from us. We did Sylvester Stallone’s automobile, the Merc, and all they confirmed was a little bit swap occurring. Nitrous didn’t even have our emblem or nothing. And we gave him two kits. He had two automobiles trigger when one got here down, they’re ineffective. We did all of the automobiles on the Dukes of Hazard. Individuals didn’t know they’d nitrous. We simply take carburetor off and go put it on this automobile. And it could possibly be a inventory engine and it nonetheless picks up 125 horses. At Common Studios, the place that was shot, they’d shallow areas to get the ramp velocity up. These stunt guys are all bunch of nuts anyway. They have been going for information, how far they may undergo the air. However we didn’t get any actual publicity out of it, so I sort of turned off to it. So Common stated, ‘nicely, we would like all these kits and we’re going to do that and we’re going to rotate the earth.’  I stated, look, I’m not attempting to generate income off you, however I’m not going to lose cash. We’ll provide you with a deal on all of the kits.”

So, they spent like about 20 grand and so they received bottles and so they received the whole lot. We outfitted the automobiles and went up there and it’s all Paul Walker and all that. Then SEMA known as me. Effectively, some folks at SEMA and so they go, ‘Mike, , we’re a little bit fearful about this film as a result of it’s going to point out medication and taking pictures them up, weapons, avenue racing and all that. Effectively, yeah. You realize anyone up there have been a little bit fearful.’ Effectively we received invited to the preview on the Egyptian and 30 folks from SEMA received invited. So that they known as me and stated, ‘come on, we would like you to return up trigger it’s received Nitrous.”

“So we go up there, sit within the viewers, watch a film, I’m laughing all over trigger the whole lot is NOS and I’m getting the most important kick out of it and I don’t even take note of all of the medication and the shoot him up. So, we meet within the foyer afterwards and everyone’s me. ‘What did you suppose?’ Are you kidding me? I stated that was about half 1,000,000 {dollars} price of publicity. Effectively we didn’t comprehend it was going to be a B film that moved into the A class. The telephone went loopy. We had simply offered by the point the film got here out and we had a name monitoring system that we had simply purchased as a result of we have been getting loads of calls and I had like 4 or 5 techs. They have been getting 1000 calls a day.”

Mike Thermos continues to go to the workplace day by day and nonetheless attends races. Nitrous Provide is predicated in Huntington Seashore, California.





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