Some older photo’s

1990 Palm Springs Vintage Road Races. Pretty sure I was being told to check out the Trophy Girl.
Team Healey Challenge – Blackhawk Farms 1990. That’s John Chatham in his famous DD300 leading me during practice. And here I thought no one was quicker than I with a hangover! Probably my most favored trophy was receiving the British Team Healey Trophy. Reflecting on it 20 years later, I think I garnered a fair amount of points with them from my ability to keep up with them not only on the track but more importantly in the pub as well. It’s so nice to be well-rounded in all aspects of motorsport.
Back in 1993 my buddy Jerry Etzel out in Atlanta called me and said “I just FedEx’d you  roundtrip tickets so you can co-drive with me in the Rolex Historic Enduro at Roebling Road in Savannah, GA.  Bring your gear and don’t forget to bring that big ‘ol pair of clackers that makes you the hero Sprite driver you are. Well, we did pretty sweet – 4th overall behind the three fastest Porsche 356’s in the country and AHEAD of Jack Boxstrom in his DB4 Aston. And Jerry’s Sebring Sprite is an honest-to-god 1 litre!
Now this was a classic. 1984 Austin Healey Club Annual Meet. At the time, I’m Parts Department manager of The Austin-Healey Store and supposed to be representing the firm. I show up with my Street/Race Bugeye, towing it with the 1961 (or ’62?) Cadillac Convertible and my buddy who looked like a Chippendales Dancer. Notice in the paint on the asphalt “10 min. Parking”. Yeah, well, we were both in our 20’s, got distracted (hmmmm, maybe by girls?) forgot all about it til about midnight – the towtruck had just showed up when I stumbled out of someones room thinking I should move the cars. The event hadn’t even officially begun and I’m about to either go to jail, lose two cars and a trailer or both, but somehow my boyish charm convinced  the cops to cancel the tow and since I was on semi-private property (gov. owned camping resort) plus they liked the Sprite – they did actually let me go park. And there is NO WAY they didn’t know I was more than just a tad above the alcohol limit. It was a semi-Hunter S. Thompson type weekend, and no question my buddy and I pissed off every Healey Club parent that brought their daughters. Now how’s that for representing a business?!
Yep, it’s not British. Chopped 26T with Olds power – we built the headers and exhaust. Damn I wish I owned  it!Feb. 1997     Yeah, I know critics would say that I’m here holding up a string of cars. WRONG! Some say how great a good day of fishing is, I’d have to reply that while it could be a good day, a GREAT day is showing the way around Phoenix International Raceway to a Lotus 7, two Bummer’s and a lowly 911. Not a good day, but a great day!1997 – VARA Annual Banquet – The Sharkskin jacket helped me pull off George Thorogood’s “If You Don’t Start Drinkin’, I’m Gonna Leave.” Good thing I didn’t quit my day job.1984, possibly 1985. I’m dating the future Mrs. Colby (#1), my folks just happen to be on vacation, they just happen to have a recently painted and drywalled all white garage AND, my dad just happens to be a semi-pro photographer. “Honey pie, sweety, apple of my eye – would you mind posing with my ‘lil Sprite?”   Reply: “Okay, but no nippies!”  I’d watched my dad set up all this junk up before – get out some lights, some more lights, and a few more lights. Damn, wasn’t quite as easy as I thought. Pesky shadows. And it was so frustrating having to spend all that time making sure there were “no nippies” showing. This picture was on the back cover of The Austin Healey Store’s catalog and I was quite surprised by the amount of attention it received. To this day I still now and then get calls about it. What I wonder now is how soon Mrs. Colby #2 will hear about this picture on the website, and how pissed off she’ll be. Hey, a new idea -if she does get too pissed off,  just maybe I can get her to pose for an all new “Miss Austin Healey Sprite picture……………………..I bet this is all a bad idea. Still won’t stop me. Yet.1986 Palm Springs Vintage Grand Prix. Just finished the car with no sleep before putting it on the trailer. Built it out of used parts sitting on the shelves at The Austin-Healey Store. This pic was taken on pre-grid. Pole Position/First Place. Damn did I have great hair!The world famous Kablooie. I wish any Sprite fanatic could have had a chance to drive this car. Over the years I’ve had the chance to drive and race quite a variety of cars, many of which were quite faster. But NONE drove like this Sprite. The top two pictures are when tip-top. Bottom picture when my buddy drove it for two laps. Next day (and after very fabled debauchery the evening before) I won the Blackhawk Small Bore Grand Prix in the condition you see here.

The best driving car I ever raced!
The good ‘ol days

Clockwise from top left: My first Sprite (& first and only mustasche), a model posing with a customers Sprite in 1990 (yep, she’s now 20 years older also!), me and some dude in my newest ride, Speedwell Monza nosed bugeye on April 1, 1990 – this guy years later rolled one of my Sprites at Blackhawk Farms – then gave himself a black eye helping fix it. Colby and Miss Budweiser @ Tustin in 1997. Personally, I’d have preferred to meet her mother – Mrs. Budweiser.

My Eagle Formula Formula Ford at Las Vegas in Nov. 2000. I think this was the first time I raced it. I do vividly recall the pool of fuel after the Saturday race under the car in the paddock. I yanked the seat out and found that the 22 year old fuel cell decided to delaminate itself. Me, being the crafty devil that I am, dumped the remaining fuel to let it dry overnight and on the way to the track Sunday morning stopped at 7-11, bought a 10 pack of Hefty Trash Bags, (yes, I did opt for the higher priced “cinch sack variety”), poured a tube of weatherstrip adhesive all over it, bagged it, bagged it, and after having 10 Hefty bags tied firmly around the rotting fuel cell – christ, I had a perfectly good one time only fuel cell! Five minutes before the Pre-Grid whistle I dumped 5 gallons in the cell, rolled to the line and actually finished! Think I was 1st in class and 5th overall in the open wheel group. Safety First I always  say! And folks, this was MY car – ain’t no way you’d see me doing something that stupid with a customer’s car!

Dan Gurney bought the car, restored it and it is now in his Museum (below)

About Tom Colby

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