The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by Automobile Club of Southern California and the Television Motion Picture Car Club are presenting "TV Tommy" Ivo's 80th Birthday Bash at the museum in Pomona Saturday, April 16, from noon to 4 p.m.
Ivo, a Drag Racing Hall of Fame inductee and the 2012 grand marshal at the NHRA Motorsports Museum California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California, acted in more than 100 movies and 200 television shows during his entertainment career. He started acting at age 7 and worked continuously in film and television for 19 years, but the drag racing bug hit him hard in the 1950s, and he left acting to pursue a full-time career in drag racing, where he became “Drag Racing’s Master Showman.”
Ivo brought a taste of Hollywood to dragstrips around the country by building some of the most ingenious and outrageous vehicles to ever run the quarter-mile. He was the first to build a twin-engine W-16 configuration dragster; the first to build a four-engine all-wheel-drive dragster, called Showboat; and raced front-engine dragsters, rear-engine dragsters, Funny Cars, and even jet cars. There wasn’t anything on four wheels that he wouldn’t race, and that included go-karts.
Ivo was the first to run the quarter in under nine seconds and the first to go 170 mph and then 180 on gasoline. He was known for his wheelstands, fire burnouts, and anything else he could think of to promote the sport and bring throngs of spectators to the track. Ivo also gave Don “the Snake” Prudhomme his start in the sport.
Due to Ivo’s popularity as an actor, showman, and drag racer, appearance money made him drag racing’s first touring professional, and he helped popularize drag racing from the 1950s through the early 1980s.
Tickets are $30 per person ($25 for museum members), which includes food from The Habit and dessert from Dr. Bob’s gourmet ice cream.
To order tickets, call the museum, 909-622-2133.