TV Tommy Ivo: The 1977 Kid Interview
By David Hapgood
Young David Hapgood shows a great deal of artistic talent with this rendering
of Tommy Ivo's Dodge Dart flopper. Racing art by (13 year old) David Hapgood
[Editor's note: David Hapgood is one of our favorite
contributors. He's the guy who brings us the excellent Spokane coverage
every year, plus lots of other great stuff. Back in 1977, David went to
see his funny car hero, TV Tommy Ivo, and Tom was gracious enough to grant
this interview to the 13 year old kid. No surprise -- sounds like the TV
Tommy we know and love! Here is then 13-year-old David Hapgood's
interview, published for the first time... bp]
OK, so here it is. Me at age 13 interviewing my childhood hero before a match race at Lebanon Valley Dragway, August 1977. Thank you, T.V. Tommy!
DAVID: Why don't you do fire burnouts anymore?
TOMMY: NHRA outlawed them. They say they're dangerous. I've done over 500 of them. I think they have more things to worry about than that. If I do one I get my driver's license taken away.
DAVID: What's the fastest you think you can run tonight?
TOMMY: Maybe in the forties, thirties at best.
DAVID: Is the track any good?
TOMMY: It can be slippery at times.
DAVID: What's the best you've ever run?
TOMMY: I ran a 5.94 but the timing at some tracks is off.
DAVID: Then you don't believe it?
TOMMY: No, but at another track I ran a 6.19 and I believed that. A 'teen' run is really good!
DAVID: What ever happened to Tom McEwen's Corvette? *
TOMMY: He ran it off the end of a track and destroyed the car when the parachute failed.
DAVID: Corvette's are bad luck, aren't they? **
TOMMY: Well, McEwen's crash was the result of parachute failure and had nothing to do with the Corvette body, though Corvettes are swoopy and dart around.
DAVID: Who are you facing in round one (tonight)?
TOMMY: Bill Leavitt.
DAVID: Oh, then you should win!
TOMMY: It all depends on what happens at the top end. ***
DAVID: Is this the same car you ran in '76?
DAVID: Does most of your equipment come free from your sponsors?
DAVID: How long do your tires last?
TOMMY: About nine runs.
DAVID: What happened to your Dodge Charger body?
TOMMY: I blew it off, first thing this year.
TV Tommy's traveling road show. Photo by Don Eckert
DAVID: That was the car you won York with, right?
DAVID: Where are you headed next?
TOMMY: Atco, New Jersey.
DAVID: That's where you ran one of your first five second times, isn't it?
TOMMY: Yes, one of the first.
DAVID: By the way, who won Montreal? ****
TOMMY: Tom Hoover beat the Snake in the finals.
DAVID: Oh......that's nice!*****
TOMMY: I think everyone thinks it is!!
DAVID: Well, goodbye and good luck.
TOMMY: See ya!
* McEwen was on the bill this evening but couldn't show because of the crash.
** Up until the late 1970s, Corvette funny cars were believed to be cursed.
*** Ivo was correct! It turned out that his car shook a plug wire loose and Bill Leavitt did indeed kick his butt in the opening round.
**** 'Who won Montreal?' A question from an era LONG before the internet made race results almost instantaneous. Also an era when National events were looked forward to as a monthly rather than a weekly affair.
***** At the time of this 'interview,' Don Prudhomme was at the height of his powers and it was unusual for anyone else to win funny car at an NHRA national meet.
I hope you enjoyed this!