Story by Branden Peters
Photography by Brad Sillars
Thomas Patsis has one of the coolest jobs in the world. By day he builds Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars for Don Schumacher Racing, and by night he makes metal replicas for his company, Cold Hard Art.
“It’s funny ’cause I’m from Maine, and nobody in my family is into racing at all,” he says. “Just one day when I was 10, I must have come across a race on TV, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Patsis started welding replica pieces out of stock car metal and aluminum for fun in 2008. He put images of his finished work on Facebook, and the demand was so high that he started taking orders—so many that he has a year and a half’s worth of custom orders in the can.
It generally takes from 30 to 40 hours to complete a piece, depending on the level of detail. However, Patsis is more than just an ill welder; he’s an artist. In addition to straight-up replicas, he creates abstract art, as well, including cartoon cars. His HEM-ME spider is a replica of a Top Fuel motor with eight legs protruding out of the header pipes and drag-racing starting lights made from used Top Fuel exhaust valves.
The pieces are expensive to make, but thankfully, Patsis gets a lot of support from Miller Electric, Trick Tools, Mechanix Wear and Worldwide Bearings, and he even has access to used parts from his day job.
Patsis’ work has found its way to noted celebrities ranging from NASCAR drivers Kyle and Kurt Busch to Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, but his dream is to get his pieces in front of car nuts Tim Allen and Jay Leno.