Date(s) - 02/08/2019
Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
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Join us for a Champions Talk
with Moderator: Jack Beckman
and Panelists: “T.V. Tommy” Ivo and Don Schumacher at Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum Friday February 8th at 6:30pm. After the races at the Winter Nationals this week.
“T.V. Tommy” Ivo earned his nickname by acting in more than 100 movies and nearly 200 television shows. He got hooked on drag racing with a stock Buick, then built a Buick-powered T roadster as seen in the NHRA Museum. Before his career was over he raced 36 different cars in twelve different classes. His first Buick dragster built in 1958 won the Top Gas title at the first Bakersfield March Meet in 1959. The 1957-63 fuel ban was enforced at most Southern California strips, so Ivo elected to build a twin-Buick dragster to make up for the lack of nitro. Like its predecessors, it graced magazine covers, and was first to run under 9 seconds, the first over 170 mph and the first over 180 mph on gasoline. In 1960 he became the first drag racer to cross the country with a season long tour. Appearance money made him drag racing’s first touring professional. Back home, show business told him, “If they liked two motors, they’ll love four!” He designed and built his spectacular four–Buick dragster, arguably the most successful drag racing exhibition car of all time.
Moving to the fuel ranks in 1964, Ivo was the first in the 7-second bracket and the first over 190 mph. He embarked on a twenty year odyssey that took him from fuel dragsters and funny cars to jets, and every corner of the country. Ivo’s cars always featured full bodies, gorgeous paint and tons of chrome. The years on the road finally took their toll and he finished his career on a farewell tour with his old four-engine dragster in 1982. After thirty years of drag racing he retired, leaving behind a legacy of professionalism and showmanship that paved the way for the superstars of today’s drag racing.
Don Schumacher spent the first part of his drag racing career as a Funny Car driver. With his Dodge-bodied machines he won the 1972 Coca Cola Cavalcade of Champions, the 1973 AHRA Funny Car Championship, five NHRA National events including the 1970 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, and seventy percent of his nearly 600 match races. He left the sport in 1974 to focus on his family and his business, Schumacher Electric located near his Chicago hometown.
After a twenty-three year hiatus Schumacher returned to drag racing with his son Tony in a Top Fuel dragster and began building what has become a drag racing dynasty. Since then, his teams have won 16 NHRA Championships including son Tony’s eight in Top Fuel. Through the 2018 season his teams included Top Fuel driven by Tony, Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett. In Funny Car his team cars are driven by Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Matt Hagen, and Tommy Johnson, Jr. Schumacher teams are responsible for more than 300 National event wins. His was the first team to win Top Fuel and Funny Car National Championships in the same year, a feat that’s been repeated four times. Don is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and next month he’ll be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Daytona Beach, an honor shared by Tommy Ivo.