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Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame
"Where Motor Sports Come Together"
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Inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Tom Straley was born June 18, 1939, in Lansing Michigan. For as long as
he can remember, Tom has been obsessed with cars and going fast. Turning
that obsession into a career seemed only natural. Building hot rods and
engines started early in high school along with machining and welding
skills. Early racing included drag racing and street racing in the late
fifties. Moving to Freeport, Michigan, and meeting Wayne & Ruth Landon
proved to be the turning point to oval track asphalt racing and the
beginning of a lifelong friendship. In 1958, Wayne also secured Tom his
first ride in a Super Modified at the old Speedrome in Grand Rapids. Tom
built the #82 super modified that won the first heat race in which it was
entered at Spartan Speedway and many other events in Michigan and Indiana
over the next two years. During this time period, he had become a skilled
tool and die maker and attended college at Michigan State for a year.
1978, Tom took over the engine program for Scott Baker and the NTPA
“Homewrecker” modified pulling tractor, winning two consecutive
1980 was the beginning of a 14 year relationship with NTPA as a multi engine
modified tractor driving for the first two years and the next twelve years
as the driver of the “Hitman” TWD Camaro funny car. This combination won
over 300 events. The “Hitman” Camaro was the only funny car bodied TWD from
Michigan to compete on the National Circuit - and was very popular with the
crowd. During this time
period, Tom also served as an NTPA licensed tech inspector and head Judge at
the National events. In 1994, this car was sold to an individual in Maine
where it won the State Championship for four years running.
The race shop continued to be very busy with little time left for the extensive travel required for a sprint car, so more time has been devoted to the engine program of the track champion #50 Sportsman car owned by Carl VanZile and driven by his son, Brian, at Kalamazoo Speedway.
Because of his “nomadic” nature, Tom has never claimed a “track championship” or the total feature wins that many other drivers can be credited with, but the satisfaction of being able to compete and win in all types of racing has been very rewarding.
Send mail to Allan
E. Brown with questions or comments about this web site.