Synopses & Reviews
In 1961, Tommy Ivo had the world in the palm of his hand. At 25, he was not only a star of television and screen, but a successful touring drag racer as well. Then his producers told him he had to quit racing. Ivo quit Hollywood instead. Here is the story of “TV” Tommy’s incredible life and racing career, related by Ivo to award-winning automotive journalist Tom Cotter and profusely illustrated with images from Ivo’s own archives. Follow the former child star as he evolves from teenage hot rodder to the world’s most ambitious drag racer, building his own cars in the garage behind his Burbank home and barnstorming the nation. In addition to profiling Ivo’s 31 iconic cars—including his trendsetting ’23 T-bucket, his mind-bending twin- and four-engine dragsters, and the Funny Cars in which he took his leave from the racing stage—Cotter relates how Ivo, ever the showman, pioneered the techniques that today’s race promoters take for granted. Throughout, the tales behind Ivo’s career and cars are generously complemented with commentary from such racing luminaries as Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, and Shirley Muldowney. Tommy Ivo’s impact on the sport cannot be understated. Here, finally, is the definitive biography of one of drag racing’s most irrepressible characters.
In the early 1960s, Tommy Ivo had the world in the palm of his hands. Still a young man, he was already a star of television and film with a promising Hollywood future ahead of him. Then his producers told him he had to quit drag racing. He quit the entertainment industry instead. This is the official story of Ivo’s incredible life and racing career. Readers will follow “TV” Tommy as he becomes the most ambitious drag racer in the nation, building his own cars in the garage behind his Burbank home; becoming the first driver to pilot his dragsters to 170, 175, and 180 miles per hour and towing his cars to match races at small-town drag strips across the United States. Always the showman, Ivo pioneered promotional techniques that are today taken for granted. In this regard especially, his impact on the sport cannot be understated, and his legacy is detailed in this incredible bio of one of drag racing’s most irrepressible characters.
2011 International Automotive Media Gold Award Winner
Praise for Drag Racing’s Master Showman, “TV” Tommy Ivo: “When no one had mag wheels, Ivo had polished Halibrands. When guys were welding up junkyard parts, Ivo had candy apple paint jobs and chrome plating. It was Ivo who helped turn drag racing from a hobby into a profession. He deserves all the credit.”—Drag racing legend Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, from his foreword “Ivo was tough, and he figured out early on that he could make more money as a showman than as a serious competitor. In those days, competitive drag racing didn’t pay very much.”—Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, 17-time national drag racing champion “Ivo taught me to make people laugh even when I wasn’t winning. He taught me to look fans in the eye when I signed autographs, to ask their name and to make them feel special.”—John Force, 14-time Funny Car champion
Tommy Ivo was a promising young star of television and film when his producers told him he had to quit drag racing. He quit the entertainment industry instead. This is the official story of Ivos incredible life and racing career.
About the Author
"A bright new book by veteran auto writer Tom Cotter is on the shelves today, telling of the unbelievable life and times of Ivo, who chucked the bright lights of acting for fast cars and tire smoke, but who kept every bit of the showmanship he'd absorbed from TV and movies. It's one of the best blends we've seen of text, break-out quotes, highlight boxes and photos. That's a hard mix to get right. Too easy to confuse or distract a reader and wind up aggravating the person you're supposed to be enchanting and informing." - USAToday.com
"When we were informed several months ago about an upcoming book on the career of "TV" Tommy Ivo and that book was to be written by Tom Cotter, our inner drag geek got very excited. Did the book deliver the goods on the other parts of Ivo's life and times we were wanting to learn about? It sure as hell did. We savored every page, for the information, photos, and stories that only Tom Ivo could have provided.” –BangShift.com
“For Tommy Ivo fans—and there are plenty out there judging from his popularity in the growing nostalgia movement for the sport—“TV” Tommy Ivo: Drag Racing’s Master Showman is a must read, but anyone who loves drag racing should enjoy learning about someone who Prudhomme says, “helped turn drag racing from a hobby to a profession.” – DragIllustrated.com
"The book recounts Ivo's career as a truly professional racing showman, balancing that with the details of his many dragsters in light and entertain fashion." - AutoWeek"...any fan of drag racing worthy of that self-description will have to have this book. This should be the template for a modern-day drag history." - Hemmings Motor News "Our friend of many years, Tom Cotter, wrote a great book. It is a very easy read with loads and loads of wonderful photographs." - Area Auto Racing News "A terrific new book! Accompanied by hundreds of black-and-white and color photos from publications of the day and many never-before-seen gems from Ivo's personal collection, Cotter traces teh life of Ivo from a poor seven-year-old Hollywood arrival to growing TV star, all while leading a double life as a normal California teen, and then as a pioneering professional drag racing star who ends up a Hall of Famer. For Tommy Ivo fans, this is a must read." - DragIllustrated.com "Tom Cotter's biography of "TV" Tommy Ivo is fantastic... I mean it. The bottom line is this. If you're at all interested in the story of "TV" Tommy Ivo, this book is a must read." - DragRacingOnline.com
"This is the book I've been waiting for and I am not disappointed. This book is well written and very hard to put down as each page makes you anxious for the next. I highly sugggest you add this to your collection." - Nitrogeezers.com
“When we assign a rating to the books we review here, we try to do it within the context of the likely potential buyer. And in that regard, we can say flatly that any fan of drag racing worthy of that self-description will have to have this book. Tom Cotter, who has a marked gift for enabling hot rod legends to tell their stories, has cleared the fences with this book. It’s absolutely wealthy with photography and good layout practices, with more than 240 images crammed inside. They’re terrific. Just one shows Ivo’s advanced (for its time) trailer lashed to the main deck of a freighter churning across the North Atlantic en route to a tour of England. Others show what’s left of the Ivo cars remaining today—the author, after all, is an authority on barn finds. This should be the template for a modern-day drag history!” – Hemmings Motor News
"TV" Tommy Ivo: Drag Racing's Master Showman is the official story of Ivo's incredible life and career. His impact on the sport cannot be understated and his legacy is detailed in this incredible bio of one of drag racing's most irrepressible characters. The work of veteran auto writer Tom Cotter, this book is a well-crafted blend of historical information, personal experiences, and outstanding photos, all of which combine to bring the story of this legendary racer to life. This detailed chronicle of the life and times of one of the most influential drivers and innovators in the sport of drag racing is a must read for race fans young and old - a true classic." -Drag Review Magazine, IHRA