Thomas Annunziata: Racing’s late-bloomer picks up tasty new partnership

by:Jonathan Howard•05/30/24


Thomas Annunziata

Photo courtesy of Thomas Annunziata/Chipoys

In the world of American motorsports, there is a lot of young talent. Don’t overlook 18-year-old Thomas Annunziata. He has his eyes on a future NASCAR career and might have the talent to get himself there.

There are a lot of notable names in the ARCA Menards Series, Trans-Am Series, and elsewhere. Connor Zilisch, Brent Crews, Carson Kvapil, and a few others come to mind. Perhaps Thomas Annunziata should be included in that list.

Right now, Annuniziata is sitting third overall in the Trans-Am2 standings. He is 42 points out from his teammate and points leader Raja Matos. This year, Annunziata also made his ARCA debut. It’s been a year where the young driver has been able to truly live out his dreams.

Annunziata has even landed a start at Sonoma with JD Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

“It’s weird because it’s always been my dream to race in NASCAR,” Annunziata said in an exclusive interview with 5GOATs. “I got into Lightning McQueen when I was younger and that’s really how I started sparking that, right? And seeing them race NASCAR stuff on the Pixar movies or Disney whatever it is. So it’s really cool, the first [Daytona race] was really cool. Going there and seeing some of my favorite NASCAR drivers, Cup drivers, Xfinity, Truck.

“Of course, I’m the fourth division, but it’s still, I’m in a NASCAR, a Cup car really, from ten years ago. The atmosphere is pretty crazy, especially seeing all the fans there for the Daytona 500 and it just all felt super surreal. From a season perspective, it’s been pretty damn good.”

Thomas Annunziata has the looks of an elite race car driver. He has the social media game locked down with 71.2K followers on Instagram alone. Now he just wants to show that he also has the talent.

“I want to get to the Cup Series,” Thomas said. “Of course, money and funding is going to stop a lot of drivers from doing that right? I’m one of them that can’t get there on my own pocket. Just working hard trying to find funding and trying to use some of my skills.”

A new sponsorship with Chipoys is going to help him achieve that.

Building a brand with Chipoys and online marketing

The one thing you notice about Annunziata besides his race skills is the fact that he knows how to work social media. He just knows how to get people to follow and pay attention to him. That’s a big reason why he wanted to partner with upstart chip brand, Chipoys.

Chipoys makes rolled tortilla chips of different flavors with bright branding and colorful marketing. When Thomas met CEO Michael Berro, it was an instant connection.

“It was friendly, it was fun, it was cool – we meshed together really well. It wasn’t one of those awkward [introductions],” the driver explained. “So we talked through it, we talked about a plan, what we want to do. We wanted to pair with each other right? So, this is exactly what we wanted to do we just had to figure out how to do it.”

Annunziata is very aware of what he wears and how he acts – in short, the brand he puts out online. It’s all purposeful. Even his partnership with Chipoys. He wants to be the Chipoys Guy. So, when you see him you think of the brand and vice versa. While he is young, he is focused on making the most of his opportunities.

“You have Kyle Busch in the M&Ms car, you have a bunch of fans attracted to that. But if you have now,  a bunch of sponsors you have today is like a roofing company – you’re not actually going to pay attention to it. So what’s cool about Chipoys, for me, I feel like the underdog,” Annunziata admitted. “I don’t have the money to just completely run every single race and pay my way to the front. Chipoys in a way, is the same way where they just started and they’re going up against these big companies and snack brands but that’s what you’re going to have when you both start.”


Of course, Chipoys gets something out of it too. They are all-in on the driver as their representative.


“It was Thomas before anything else. Just a great kid,” CEO Michael Berro said. “As Thomas said, a lot of parallels between what he’s trying to do individually and what we’re trying to do as a brand. He’s going to be at the top level competing against the best in the world, we’re going against multi-billion dollar CPG companies. He’s gotta be scrappy, outwork and out-hustle people, we’ve gotta be scrappy, outwork and out-hustle people.”

Thomas Annunziata has been catching up, now he’s here

In that ARCA debut at Daytona, Thomas Annunziata made a lot of noise. He was in a Kyle Petty throwback scheme to the classic Mello-Yello car. Before he did it, Annunziata didn’t know if he could, but he knew it would attract attention.

Then he finished P2 in the race. While Zilisch and Crews and others get the headlines now, Annunziata has been there competing with those drivers. Albeit a year or two behind in his progress, but he’s been there.

Annunziata, Zilisch, and Crews wrecked each other at the Super Nats karting championship in 2021 going for the win. Now, each of them are trying to break into NASCAR.

“They entered the Trans-Am Series a year before I did. My first year was 2023; their first years were 2022 and 2021. So again I had to play catchup a little bit. But I’ve always been right there, I’ve always raced with them up in the front. I would win, he would win, Connor [Zilisch] would win, Brent [Crews] would win. So, I’ve always been a little bit late to the party.

“I’ve been following their path, seems like they know exactly what they’re doing, me and my father don’t necessarily know the path so we’ve been following them and following their path. They’ve created one, right? It’s not necessarily, I can’t believe I’m running with these kids, the confidence is there. I always knew it was I would be disappointed if I didn’t. It’s cool to see them making it because I know I can.”

Thomas Annunziata is making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with JD Motorsports at Sonoma. With Chipoys supporting him, he might be the next big name in the sport.

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