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Thomas Graf

VP / Shop Manager / R&D / Tuner / Engine Builder

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I am the vice-president of Corvette Connection & Performance, Inc. I like to think of Corvette Connection as a high altitude "Chevy Hot Rod Shop." I am constantly redefining what the extreme potential means and document the numbers. Practicing what we preach is our motto. By making my passion my career I have raced with every car I have designed and built for the last 20 years. I have learned a lot about dreams, extremes, people, cars, clich's, budgets, needs, and realities.

Having dreams gave me ideas and a longing. Setting goals to establish my dreams gave me direction. But wouldn't you know it; the road isn't always strait or clear. For every door God has shut on me, He has always given me a window to jump out of. I have scars to prove it. I still have dreams and set goals. My dreams and desires keep me alive.

I took my cars and my career to the extreme and I became a workaholic, driven by desire and necessity. Having kids can do that to a man, by fear and reality. But granted taking anything to the extreme can create issues. If you abuse anything you will loose it. Pushing myself to the extreme has always been in my addictive nature. I am learning balance (although I took my car apart again to make it faster).

People come into my life, make profound influences on my life, and without even knowing it; things are never the same again. My wife, Dianne Graf ROCKS my world! Sometimes a customer, a loved one, sibling, salesperson, or even an acquaintance of a customer shows me a new direction. A simple e-mail may be all it takes. I have learned that communicating with people is the only way to know any true reality of self. The customers I meet are people just like us and have their up's and downs too.

Cars are much like people. They break if they are not properly maintained, neglected, abused, or sometimes just for cosmic karma full moon reasons. Who is to know for sure? I have seen some cars that just seem to run forever and others that are money pits. Face the facts. Cars are built by people, maintained by people, driven by people and are subject to the influences of those people. Why should they not have personalities and character? As a performance shop we are a lot like your trusted trainer or doctor for your Corvette. Sometimes we recommend vitamins and exercise. Sometimes we recommend surgery. We are also Corvette scientists & geneticists and push the limits of our own cars to the extreme of our abilities. We use our own cars as lab rats, not yours! As Corvette doctors we try to keep your car safe, reliable, fun, and free of infections for you. But please remember. It is still a car!

I even got into clairvoyant diagnosis for the real problem inflicted Corvettes (and people). But wouldn't you know it. The local psychic shop broke my magic wand while they were trying to fix my crystal ball. I miss my crystal ball because information is everything. I guess the internet will have to do for now, but can you believe everything? Even my customers complain about their cars when they don't act up when I am around! Hugh? I just rack that one up to when I broke my crystal ball. I was told it is like breaking a mirror. Whenever you are around a troubled Corvette it will never fail or show its symptoms. There must be a lot of mechanics that have broken their balls because this is commonly known as "The Mechanics Curse." What about that "Little Napoleon" and that "Damn Bunny?" Don't they know that "Shift Happens?"

I have always looked for the biggest bang for the buck. I had to! I pushed my car to the limits of what I could afford. Now it benefits you, because we know what works and is cost effective. We do not sell Corvettes (except ours or our customers), because we want to be honest. We offer a Bumper-to-Bumper inspection to save a stitch in time, know what you're getting into before you sign that dotted line. B&B's are also to help you develop a budget or plan of attack. I like sitting down with customers and creating their virtual computerized dream car. I dont want to spend my money doing the same thing twice, so why should you? I still use B&Bs and computer modeling to keep me in check!

To stay on top of what we need is of course an oxymoron. I tried a lot of things to be happy. Needing a fast car in my youth without the proper budget equaled being on the side of the road and tickets too. God's sick irony is that "He never gives you what you want. He gives you what you need." Now I race on the track. Corvette Connection co-sponsors "Alive at 25." We drive our street legal cars to the track, race, and drive home. The cars are why this business started, why the race team came to be, and why we dream up new products. We will only provide a safe car for the intentions of the customers desires.

Keeping things real for our customers is why Rich and I spend so much time with our customers! Yes! We want your money! But, we want to give you what you want, desire, need, within your budget, and keep it real! Having fun in our Corvettes is why we own them. Sharing our cars with our loved ones should be a bonus! Reality is balancing the things that matter most.

Kids have taught me to keep it simple. My life surrounds my children and work. If I were not a Professional Motor Head I would be a science teacher. Volunteering at my kid's school at least once a month and promoting Bandimere's "Race-to-Read" program helps me balance my work and kids. I strongly recommend to any racer with kids to get involved with this program. I saw a bumper sticker that I need to put on my Vette, "A Family that Races together, stays together."

Happiness requires balancing needs, desires, friendships, loves, passions, budgets, and everything else. There is something to be said for country music. It tells a story of life, God, good people, country, family, and balance. In life balance will help create the foundation for fun and lasting cars and relationships. There are so many people that have influenced and inspired me. I still struggle with my dreams, extremes, people, cars, clich's, budgets, needs, and realities. The trick is to remember to balance Justice, Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, and have Faith! Happiness is what you do to make it happen! We are only people trying to help you make Corvette dreams come true! I will go faster as money allows, I still haven't figured out what I need, and as far as reality I still am learning to balance. What I do know is that I do this for the love of it! See you at the race track.