BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
Ivo's first drag race was 60 years ago in a 66 mph ?52 Buick at Saugus Drag Strip. His last race was 30 years ago on his farewell tour in his Showboat four-engine Buick station wagon.
In between there were 36 different cars in 12 different classes. His Model T street roadster earned countless drag race and car show trophies, as well as magazine features and movie appearances.
At about the same time his racing career launched, Ivo had already starred in nearly 100 motion pictures and more than 200 television programs, including Disney's Mickey Mouse Club, My Little Margie, the Donna Reed Show, and the Danny Thomas Show. His Hollywood fame, earned him the nickname "T.V. Tommy" and he became the first touring professional.
Driving gas dragsters, he won Top Gas at the first Bakersfield March Meet in 1959, was the first to run under nine seconds, the first over 170 mph and the first over 180 mph. In 1960 he was first to crisscross the country with a nationwide season long tour.
Moving to the fuel ranks he was first in the 7-second bracket and first to exceed 190 mph. He won the 1964 British Drag Festival and he and Don Garlits match raced as many as seventy two times in a single season.
He built, tuned, drove and maintained his own equipment. In 1972 he became the first member of the Cragar Five Second Club and survived a horrific 240 mph crash here at Pomona without a scratch. When dragster popularity waned in the mid-?70s, Ivo switched to Funny Cars and finally jet dragsters.
He is one of NHRA?s Top 50 Drivers and won Top Gas at the first Bakersfield March Meet in 1959, was the first to run under nine seconds, the first over 170 mph and the first over 180 mph. After 30 years of drag racing he retired leaving behind a legacy of professionalism and showmanship that paved the way for the corporate sponsorships of today and making him the perfect California Hot Rod Reunion Grand Marshal.
Ivo will be joined by Honorees the Brissette Brothers, Bob and Jim; the Mallicoat Brothers, Gary and Jerry; Jim Nicoll, Marv Ripes, and Ed Sigmon.
Three-day credentials are $65 per person. Advance ticket sales include a goody bag with program, dash plaque, hard card and other great goodies. Kids 15 and under are free accompanied by a paid adult. Tickets are available online at www.nhratix.com, or call 1-800-884-NHRA (6472).
All proceeds raised at the California Hot Rod Reunion benefit the programs and exhibits at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum located in Pomona, CA.
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