Tiger Tom Pistone was born on March 17, 1929. His family could have never have
dreamed that he would grow up to be one of the finest competitors to ever strap
himself into a race car. The young Pistone began his career in his native Chicago
at Soldiers Field during the late 1940's. Early in his career, Tiger Tom flipped his
racer 22 times in one season. His quick wit and winning smile made him an instant
favorite with the fans!
Competing against local legends such as Gene Marmor, Skippy Michaels, and
Sal Tovella, Tiger Tom drove his car no. 3 to the track championships at Soldiers
Field in 1954. A perennial point chaser, Pistone was always a top contender for
the title at the fabled speedway. One of the cars Tiger Tom utilized during his
1954 championship drive was a foud door Pontiac. His success caused him to
be idolized by thousands. One of his biggest admirers was a youngster from
Elmhurst, Illionois named Fred Lorenzen. As a young man, Fred's goal was to
one day be as great as his hero, Tiger Tom Pistone!!!!
Running for promoter and longtime friend, Andy Granatelli, the Tiger drove a
very sanitary Cheverolet to the Soldiers Field title in 1955. He also entered his
first NASCAR Grand National race that year in the October 100 miler at North
Wilkesboro Speedway. An overheating engine relegated him to a 27th place
finish in that event. During the 1950's , winning the track title at Soldiers Field
was quite a feat. Tiger Tom Pistone captured the crown an amazing five
consecutive times!!!! An he still holds the track record at Soldiers Field to this
very day. Promoter Andy Granetelli rewarded Tiger Tom with a huge trophy for
claiming his fifth championship!!!
Tiger Tom's first victory in a NASCAR sanctioned race came on June 30, 1956.
An enormous crowd of 38,000 screaming fans watched him drive his '56 Chevy
ragtop to victory in a 100 mile convertible contest at Soldiers Field. He drove his
car no. 54 around the legendary Curtis Turner with six laps to go and held on for
the win!!! Tiger Tom was also very successful at Chicago's Raceway Park. It was
not uncommon to find him collecting the spoils of victory after a hard fought
struggle on the race track. By today's criteria, 1959 would be considered Tom
Pistone's rookie season on NASCAR's Grand National (now Winston Cup) tour.
To this very day, his remains one of the most outstanding records ever compiled
by a driver during his freshman year in major league stock car racing. Driving a
Thunderbird, the little dynamo scored two victories and logged a dozen top five
finishes enroute to a sixth place finish in the point standings.
The beginning of the 1961 season found Tom Pistone racing a new Pontiac under
the banner of the GO-GO-GO corporation. Pistone and Bill France Sr. were very
instrumental in helping Lynn and B.G. Holloway form a potent three car team
that featured General Motors cars. Team drivers were, Tiger Tom Pistone,
Ned Jarrett and Johnny Allen. Jarrett drove the teams no. 11 Chevy to the 1961
Grand National Championship. In 1966 NASCAR and Ford Motor Company became
embroiled in a major controversy over the eligibility of Ford's single overhead
cam engine to compete on the GN circuit. A boycott by Ford led most observers
to believe there would be no competitive Ford's to challenge the onslaught of
Chrysler teams. Someone forgot to tell this to Tiger Tom Pistone! Driving a
modestly financed two year old Ford, the Tiger was a victory contender.
Tom Pistone's ability as a driver is equalled only by his expertise in the field of
designing and building race cars. Drivers who have won races utilizing the Pistone
chassis include the likes of Harry Gant and the late Bobby Issac. However one of
the hottest combinations of the late 1960's was the team of Tiger Tom Pistone and
his great friend, Tiny Lund...Both were renowned as practical jokers, the colorful
duo won races and set records throughout the Southeast. In 1987 Tiger Tom Pistone
took time off from his race car building and parts business long enough to compete
in a race for retired drivers, held at Hickory Motor Speedway. And showing the same
skill and determination he exhibited at Soldiers Field in the 1950's...
Tiger Tom Pistone found himself in a very familar place once again....VICTORY LANE!