When Tommy Phillips walked out of his office at Smiley’s Racing Products on December 30, 2010, he did so with no regrets, but with a heavy heart. That was his last day of employment at the Mesquite, TX based performance parts store which owned TNT Supercars at that time. Smiley’s Racing Products bought TNT Supercars from Phillips in 2006 and he had managed the company as well as all drag race related sales for Smiley’s since the purchase.
“I sold TNT Supercars back in 2006 because I felt, and still feel that it was a necessary step back then to attain the growth rate needed to sustain the dragster building business, but the years afterwards left me restless to return to the chassis building business”, said Phillips in a recent interview at the NHRA Big O Tires Nationals in Las Vegas. “My reason for leaving…it was just time to move on to other ventures and take better care of my existing businesses in Ft. Worth and Houston. It was definitely what I needed to do at that time, but I really loved the cars we were building and it was hard to actually turn that light switch off for the last time.”
Fast forward 22 months, Phillips now finds himself coming full circle with the company that he started in his garage in 2004. As announced in Las Vegas, Tommy Phillips has reached an agreement with the new owners of TNT Supercars to be a consultant and sales advisor for the now Forney, TX based company.
“Art Zunker and Dillon Bontrager purchased the company from Smiley’s about 3 months ago and they have some really great plans for TNT Supercars, so when they approached me, I was interested in doing what I could to help.” Phillips went on to say, “I stay really busy with the two bingo halls my mom and I own, in addition to my race schedule, so I couldn’t really dedicate all of my time to TNT. But I certainly was willing to give them what I could in order to make this deal work.”
Zunker and Bontrager worked closely and quietly in recent weeks with Phillips to secure the purchase of Joe Monden Race Cars, which was official earlier this week as well.
“Getting Joe back on board was paramount to me becoming involved with TNT again, and Art and Dillon worked very hard to make it happen in a timely manner. So here we are…business partners again,” said Phillips. “Joe and I started building TNT Supercars together. His hard work and attention to detail is the reason TNT Supercars earned a reputation for quality fabrication. Joe put up with a lot of grief as well as scrapped ideas from me in the beginning, so I am very proud to have him back at TNT.”
When asked why he felt it was necessary to reunite Phillips and Monden with TNT Supercars, new co-owner Dillon Bontrager said, “Well, that’s simple…Tommy is TNT Supercars and he insisted on having Joe back as part of the deal in order to ensure the high quality level that the cars are known for. So, I began putting the deal together, and with Art’s support and advice, here we are!” Bontrager and Phillips also have a history together as Dillon worked for Tommy several years ago before leaving to pursue his own racing goals.
“Dillon loves the cars and always has. I can teach him to run the business and help him develop stronger marketing skills, but nobody can teach passion,” Phillips said. “Dillon loves this place and the product that rolls out the door, so that will carry him through the down times of owning a business.”
Zunker and Bontrager already have a 5000 square foot assembly shop in place and have leased another 5000 square foot shop for the fabrication and production of the cars. They plan to move into the new shop by October 26, and to begin construction on the first car around November 5th.
“It’s a big chore moving everything from Joe’s old shop to Forney, but we will get it done and production will begin as soon as possible” said Bontrager.
As the company moves into its new location, it is actively seeking a handful of key employees; both for fabrication and assembly. Monden, with input from Phillips, Zunker, and Bontrager, will design and fabricate the latest version of the shop’s newly designed 4-link and swing-arm style dragsters. In addition, TNT will service their customers and all racers (regardless of the brand of their chassis) with a complete line of performance parts and related equipment.
“I’m very excited about this alliance, I think we’ve got a really unique and talented team,” said Phillips. “Joe is an incredibly gifted fabricator and engineer. Randy and Dillon bring the resources and business acumen to run an efficient and successful company. And I will fall into my natural role in sales, service, and marketing, while maintaining a hefty schedule of NHRA competition. I think it’s a great fit for long term success.”
For more information, contact TNT Supercars at 972-552-3045 or by email at TNT_Supercars@att.net