In most fans’ eyes, records don’t determine their favorite drivers. Instead, it’s personalities.
And if nothing else, Thomas Meseraull, aka “T-Mez,” has personality to spare.
His underdog persona and his practice of “driving it for all it’s worth until it stops” can make team owners and officials scratch their heads, but those traits have also endeared him to a large contingent of fans.
Take, for example, his post-race quote after winning his first USAC NOS Energy Drink midget series race on Oct. 10 at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., following more than two decades of trying, with smoke pouring from an overheating engine: “This was the last race on this motor before it got rebuilt and when you’re leading a national midget race, you just go racing. I saw (Tanner Thorson) and knew if he would’ve moved up, we would’ve both crashed going down the frontstretch because I wasn’t going to lift. I’m not going to lift if I can see the checkered flag. Period.”
Tyler Courtney, the 2018 USAC sprint car champion and the 2019 USAC midget champion, described Meseraull.
“Thomas is a special character,” he said. “He brings a special flare to the track, on and off of it. He’s a great guy and a great racer and a guy you always listen to when he’s getting interviewed, because you never know what he might say.”
Although Meseraull might be a challenge for public relations representatives now and then, he’s been around long enough he knows how to play the game, and he knows sports are entertainment.
At first, Meseraull didn’t embrace the nickname T-Mez, but now he says more people know the name T-Mez than they do the name Thomas Meseraull.
“That’s what they want on their T-shirts,” he noted.
Meseraull has a lot on the line when he races. He’s a flooring contractor by trade, but he hasn’t had much time to devote to that in the last few years as the racing work has taken over.
Despite a reputation for being everyone’s favorite underdog, Meseraull has built an impressive résumé since his early days in the San Jose, Calif., area, where he raced street bikes and quads before getting into quarter midgets and micro sprints.
He moved to Indiana in 2006, leaving family and friends behind to pursue his dream of being a professional race car driver.
“Racing is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” he said. “If you really want something, you just keep digging after it and eventually someone will bite and give you a ride. I left everything I knew to come to Indiana and the racing people have turned into my family, especially the 00 team and the 47 team; we’re going on our fourth year together.
“This is the first time I’ve really had people standing behind me. I don’t qualify very well sometimes but they don’t get upset. They’re in it for the long haul and that’s a good feeling.
“I feel I can run the throttle harder than most guys. I just like to do it,” he added. “I like to try to control what’s not controllable. And I just want to run up front, because all the guys in USAC put everything into it. I’m a little rough around the edges sometimes but people come to watch, and I feel people like my personality. I’ve always been an underdog, but I want to be in competitive cars and win races.”
And win races he has.
Meseraull made his first USAC national start on Aug. 29, 1999 at, Pike Peak (Colo.) Int’l Raceway, finishing third in Dino Tomassi’s No. 29 midget.
Meseraull won two USAC midget special non-points events earlier in his career before notching that first USAC national midget victory at Tri-State in October and following it up with a victory in the series’ first appearance at Merced (Calif.) Speedway on Nov. 20.
The two 2020 USAC national midget victories came in the RMS Racing No. 7s, which is a Spike/Speedway Toyota. It’s not difficult to spot because it’s primarily pink and white.
He made his first USAC national sprint car start in 2007 and got his first victory in that division eight years later during the 34th 4-Crown Nationals at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in 2015.
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