T.J. battled a large field of contestants to win the 340 Superstock class in Alexandria, Minnesota in December of 1977. Mitch Messer recently posted these three rare shots he took of TJ on his victory lap.

At the starting line for the final, TJ was lined up with the best of the best, up and coming racers in the world. When he looked to his left, he noticed that the only driver from Sweden was using a motorcycle-style twist throttle. As TJ contemplated how that may (or may not) work, the flag went up.

Snapped back into reality, TJ squeezed the trigger hard than he ever had in his life. But it was too late.. everyone else was off the line and piling into turn one, TJ frantically tried to spot a hole where he could get is RXL through the other sleds in his path.

There was none… except the very top of the race track, right next to the hay bales. Expecting that to be the slow path around the giant, high-banked oval of the Dayco Holiday Spectacular, TJ found himself in last place going into turn one.

Undaunted, he just kept the hammer down and waited for the bumps to hammer him.

But that didn’t happen! It was as smooth as a babies bottom and the fastest line on the track! Coming out of turn two, TJ was already ahead of the pack!

Finding that path was as about as perfect as it could be, TJ hung onto that line and led the entire race. As the laps went by, Todd Elmer, also on a hot running 340 RXL, was finding a path on the lower part of the track that was working; he was very near TJ for the last couple of laps, but came up about a sled-length short when the checkered flag was flown.

For TJ, it was a long weekend of qualifying and racing against some of the best of the best… but he had come out on top, and got the attention of none other than Bob Eastman.

I recall it being one of the closest, fastest, hardest fought race of the weekend and wondered if TJ would be the next member of the Midnight Blue Express.