Top Fuelers on Ice?
by Jim Hill - 12/10/1998
In the early '70s a young black racer bought one of Tommy Ivo's old
cars, a rear engine car with an iron "late model" motor. This car had a very
unusual enclosed wing strut design (looked like two big vertical rudders with a wing on
top!) and front "wheel pants". He ran the car throughout the Midwest and some
Eastern dates for a couple years. I think his first name was "Tommy" also... or
something like that. Very pleasant, likeable sort of guy. Anyone out there in 1320-land
recall this man's name and what became of him?
I went along one weekend (' 73 or '74) with "Farmer John" McNew from Detroit, to
help John keep a match race date at the infamous U.S. 30 Dragway, Gary, Indiana. John was
to run this guy that bought Ivo's old car. It was very early spring, like maybe March, and
typically cold as blue hell! We ran hot water from the radiator of the push truck through
the block (iron) of John's motor to make enough heat to warm up-start! Used heavy quilts
to wrap the motor in to hold as much heat as we could. Looked like an Eskimo! I'd
was about 34-35F, raw-cold and gray overcast, the wind was blowing 20 steady and gusting
to 35 mph or so! Great weather for a TF match race! The wheel pants and crosswind made it
very interesting at 220. These wheel pants had the effect of becoming unwitting rudders in
a crosswind. My friend, Bob Farmer, made several sets of them for racers who liked the way
they looked. He ran a set on his own car, the "Bob's Drag Chutes" car, for
awhile, but dumped them when Charlie Kurzawa complained that they wanted to steer the car
in a crosswind.
We made two passes that day, both cars smoked the tires, backpedaled, smoked the tires,
backpedaled, etc., etc. 35 degree track surfaces do not produce optimum adhesion quality.
Amazingly enough, with the thoroughly sorry weather, the stands and pits
were packed! They sure loved their racing in Chi-Town-Land.
This Florida boy damn near froze solid on that cold, blustery day outside Chicago.