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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Another Fine Mess the Snake Got Me Into

By Tom Ivo

TV Tommy Ivo checks on Kenny Safford as Don Prudhomme and another rider look on after the big desert motorcycle crash. Photographer unknown
TV Tommy Ivo checks on Kenny Safford as Don Prudhomme and another rider
look on after the big desert motorcycle crash. Photographer unknown

One of the things big time funny car racers did back in the '70s was hit the desert to test their mettle on dirt bikes. Here's TV Tommy Ivo's hilarious account of his ONE experience with that gang. Bp

Here's "another fine mess" Don Prudhomme got me into. He says to me, "Why don't you buy a dirt bike and come riding with us?" What a "fish" I am sometimes -- I did. When we first got out to the desert, we were just riding around on the flat land warming up the cars, oops, bikes. I saw Kenny Safford coming around in a big sweep from the left of me. I thought he was going to ride up along side of me and was looking for a drag race. WRONG! The CLOT ran right into the side of me, T bone style! 

What was he thinking? Well anyway, he got the worst of it. Ha, Haaaa. Oh, he moved me around like wheelstander that had a brake on one back wheel lock up in the lights with the wheels off the ground, of course. You know, a 115-pound rider on a Husquevarna dirt bike doesn't offer much resistance. But, and here comes that but again, his front wheel folded over like he hit a guard rail and spit him off the top of his ride, similar to a gerbil being shot out of a cannon.

Look at the picture. The knees in the air in the middle of the group belong to Kenny "Emerson Fittipaldi" Safford, lying flat on his back. "Little guys rule the world," 115 lbs. or not. Taa Daa! Note "The Worm" (at this period, he was starting to grow fangs and become the awesome "Snake") Prudhomme has his hand cupped over describing to Safford how he had just flipped over like this. (As though Safford didn't know anything had happened. Duh!) "You were great," said Don. "You should have seen the way you bounced when you hit the ground." And I have my helmet off laying on the ground, in reverence, saying, "Geez, I didn't kill him, did I?" 

The paint on my helmet put a time frame on Safford's handiwork. (How did he ever get a license to drive a dragster?) It's got the red and white blotches on it. I was using it while driving the red and white giraffe paint job car at that time. You see how these biker sharks suck you in to making a fool of you? They're all out there in the leathers and fancy doo da accessories. And I have my ol' race car helmet and an old boondocks army jacket on. Does anyone smell me being fished in? 

Well they didn't kill me off that way, so just to add insult to injury, we went off hill climbing for a while. And, at his suggestion, I went off with the "Worm" pioneering around over hill and dale. (Now I know why they say the problem with being a pioneer, is that they get arrows (cactus) in their ass.) Being one of "those guys" that Pat Foster has talked about who couldn't ride bikes, I now know they suckered me out there strictly for the kill. 

My bike stalled half way up a hill. Actually, it was closer to a leaning cliff. And I couldn't get it started on the side of the "cliff." So Prudhomme says, "Just turn it around toward downhill and I'll give you a "little push" to get it started." AND I FELL FOR IT! So I pointed it down the fire up road and Prudhomme's "little push" felt like a push trunk almost ran over the top of me. I whipped out the clutch and made a pass down the side of the mountain that would make Evil Knievel's crash at Caesar's Palace look like a walk in the park!

And that was the last time the "The Sucker" (me) went bike riding. I sold the bike and learned my lesson -- that God put "four" wheels and roll bars on racing things for a reason. NO! You wouldn't catch me on a drag bike for all the tea in China. In fact, you won't find me driving race cars any more either. I HIT THE CURBS WHEN I PARK NOW!

TV Tom Ivo


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