“That was one of the first times I had ever done a wheel stand. Kent Fuller, who built the
Tommy made the decision to purchase the car back, restore it himself at home, and simply change the graphics. It was an impressive-looking race car with its stunning new Tom Hanna aluminum skin. Tommy felt that instead of returning it to its original look he would campaign it as is. “This was to be my final North American tour, to run the car at all of the dragstrips I match-raced on, then I planned to go into national event racing.”
Tommy took the car on his third stop of the tour to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, which is cold country. The dragstrip surface had been damaged by the winter frost when the heavy dragster hit a lifted portion and came down hard. In the process Tommy crushed three vertebrae in his back. He was told by his doctors never to drive a race car again or risk the consequences. After three decades, “TV Tommy” Ivo was forced to retire from drag racing.
The only silver spoon Tommy has had in his mouth was when the script writer put it there. Tommy has worked (played) very hard all his life doing what most of us can only dream about: “The house I live in right now I bought for my parents for $12,000 when I was 12 years old. It grew from 1,000 square feet to a 4,000-square-foot home over the years. I worked out of my garage and that’s where I built my four-motor car in 1961. Then when the cars got too long to shut the garage door we built the shop in the back. That’s where my master bedroom sits right now. I’ve never moved.”
Bob Shorrell (of Shorrell Engineering in Inglewood) built all of Tommy’s aluminum bodies f
Tommy learned from his mother to invest for the future and he did. With his pension from the Screen Actors Guild and real-estate holdings, Tommy is, deservedly, very comfortable.
Tommy Ivo hasn’t driven a dragster in 30 years, but he would agree that the race cars of today have become virtually mass produced. When the hot rod innovators were brushed aside, the originality and unexpected stopped. TV Tommy was his own man when he got a taste of the corporate world for a short time and wanted no part of it. Yes he was a showman, but he was recognized by the racers he competed against as a pacesetter who never stopped going beyond accepted boundaries.
When the superstars of drag racing are mentioned today, most of us could only name a handful. When Tommy ran there were dozens who even the folks who drove Nash Ramblers knew, be it that kid actor from California or that other one from Florida. Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end.
Bakersfield 1959, a night and weekend to remember. You can see there was an intense strate
Can you imagine what 1,856 ci of Buick engines sounded like? Judging by C.J. ”Pappy” Hart’
“The worst thing about the four-engine car was when you put out the chute it would start b
You might say Tommy had tunnel vision when he drove the four-engine Buick. To the fans in
One of the most horrific crashes in drag racing occurred during the Winternationals at Pom
We could have met at a coffee shop but I was invited to Tommy Ivo’s home, which has his so
Not too long after Bakersfield, Isky’s ads and the press would elevate the two relative un