NHRA Legend 'TV' Tommy Ivo's 'Last Hurrah' on East Coast Only at zMAX Dragway's O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals
Drag racing’s greatest showman and one of NHRA’s greatest drivers “TV” Tommy Ivo will be honored at the fourth annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 15-18, at zMAX Dragway in what Ivo claims may be his “last hurrah” on the East Coast.
“Because of my age and my health, this will probably be my last ‘hurrah,’ traveling this far for an event of this stature,” said California resident Ivo. “It started for me with a trip to Concord in 1960 and it looks like it will end with a trip to Concord. Other than my Motorsports Hall of Fame of America induction for my 70th birthday, this is about as good of a present a 75-year-old can get!”
The “start” that Ivo refers to at Concord was one of the stops on his first nationwide drag racing tour in 1960 at Concord Drag-o-way, coincidentally the same year Charlotte Motor Speedway ran the inaugural Coca-Cola 600 in the same city. Ivo still has the event poster, drawn in pencil, of his first drag race in Concord and added upon reflection of potentially book-ending a long and illustrious career in Concord, “How’s that for a time warp?”
Ivo will be honored at zMAX Dragway during the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals weekend as a part of the NHRA’s year-long 60th Anniversary Celebration.
One of NHRA’S 50 greatest drivers, Ivo will be at the Bellagio of drag strips Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16-18, during the event weekend signing autographs for fans, as well as participating in the Legends Track Walk down the concrete quarter-mile on Sunday, Sept. 18.
Fans will also be able to purchase a copy of Ivo’s biography, “TV Tommy Ivo, Drag Racing’s Master Showman,” at zMAX Dragway and get the opportunity to view his famous four-engine dragster, the “Showboat.”
Ivo’s visit to zMAX Dragway in September will be the legend’s first-time seeing the world’s only four-lane, all-concrete drag strip.
“It’s awesome. For me, it’s going to be a step forward in time to see what drag racing has evolved to in 50 years,” said Ivo. “I get asked all of the time, ‘Did you ever expect this?’ I actually thought it would eventually evolve into four-lanes. I’m looking forward to seeing the facility in person for the first time. This deal is just a dream come true for me.”
In 1960, Ivo started his racing career hitting the road on a nationwide tour of drag strips. He traded in his two-engine dragster for his four-engine dragster two years later because he thought “if two engines were good, four would be better.”
For the next 20 years, Ivo match raced at drag strips across the United States, in everything from dragsters to Funny Cars to jet dragsters, against stars such as Don Garlits and Shirley Muldowney. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America as well as the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Outside of racing, Ivo spent most of his childhood and adult life as a Hollywood actor and appeared in popular programs such as “Leave It to Beaver,” “The Donna Reade Show” and co-starred in “The Margie Show.”
His nickname, TV Tommy Ivo, was given because he brought entertainment to the race track. John Force, a 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion, grew up as a big fan of Ivo and his at-track personality.
“He brought showmanship to drag racing,” Force said of Ivo in the recently-published biography, “TV Tommy Ivo, Drag Racing’s Master Showman.”
“I learned a lot from him as a kid because he was an entertainer. He’d come to a drag race with two-motor cars and four-motor cars. He was the P.T. Barnum.”
The six-race NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship postseason begins when the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to zMAX Dragway, Sept. 15-18, for the fourth annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.
In honor of the NHRA's 60th anniversary, fans can purchase two tickets to any day for a total of only $60 and receive a choice of a free upgrade: two 60th anniversary hats; two 60th anniversary shirts; two beer vouchers; or two Coca-Cola soft drinks and two hot dogs. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or online at www.zMAXDragway.com.