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

Gearhead.
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10 Responses to Some older photo’s

  1. Leftie Parkhurst says:

    You were much better looking 20 years ago. The car looked better.

  2. Wow, her bikini matches the paint perfectly.
    Michelle

  3. David Bruzas says:

    Glad to see you are back online.The Brabham Midget is coming along fine. The restored shell is now at the pain shop,and some of the suspension components are ready to be fitted.The gear box is ready,Just the Climax engine to build,but customer work seems to get in the way,I must learn to say NO some times,we are due at the Silverstone Classic in 14 day’s time,so must get back into the workshop.My best wishes ,David

  4. Robert Colby (Your Older Brother, Remember?) says:

    IF YOU LIKE, I’LL POSE NUDE ON YOUR NEXT BUGEYE, SO YOU CAN GET SOME EXCELLENT PICTURES FOR YOUR NEXT SPEEDWELL PUBLICATION.

  5. Weslake-Monza says:

    That’s not the picture on the back of ‘The Austin Healey store’ catalogue because on my copy she is standing by the side of the car and is clearly seen wearing a blue thong. Is this catalogue worth big money on e-bay?

    Your brother married Miss Budweiser? Do you want the rest of the prints from that photo shoot back?

  6. Joel Young says:

    Love the new website (and the aluminum radiator you weld up for my ’67 Midget), but I’m starting to question your engineering methods. I mean, using a bikini-clad brunette to run stress cycles on your roll bars? Any sane and sober gear-head would’ve used a blond. I was contemplating ordering your tubular anti-sway bar and pan-hard rod, but shudder to think how you might ‘bench test’ those beauties…

  7. Paul Clark says:

    Hi Tom,

    Enjoying reading your blog.

    Whatever happened to your beautiful Walker Bonnet? You used to list it with your other fibreglass products but it no longer features on the latest site.

    What’s the story behind the development? Is there more to it than moving the headlamps to the wings. I’d love to know more. Since first seeing it in Daniel Stapleton’s book I’ve wondered how I could source one for my Sprite. It so suits the Sprite, and is in my view the most beautiful front end available. I’m guessing it is unique to your shop & that there are no UK retailers. Are you aware of any in the UK? Have you ever shipped one?

    How about some more pictures of it to remind us what we are missing?

    Thanks for your time, keep up the great work.

    Regards

    Paul

  8. John Alpers says:

    Tom, you reference your blue monza Sprite from the old days. I have a Speedwell Sprite first raced at a SCCA regional/Riverside Raceway by Tom Dadson on April 5, 1972, the logbook signed off on by Jerry Stevens, chief scrutineer. The logbook says the car was blue in color; the serial number is BAE/36047 and the rollcage configuration to the one in your above article is the same. In May 1982 the car was bought by Mark David Bjostad and rebuilt by Dave Helms, Scuderia Rampante, Boulder CO, 303-938-9000. It had the monza bonnet on it at that time, according to Helms. March 1990, the car went to Gayle Louise Galvin. Gary Curtis, now the chief driving instructor of Brainard Intl. Raceway, raced the car in the 1993 and 1994 Minneapolis Grand Prix, placing first in group in ’93 and second in group in ’94. The last owner before me was Ralph M. “Pete” Towell who bought the car in 2003. The car started out it’s racing career with a 981 cc engine but, somewhere along the way it was upgraded to the 1275 cc unit, as are most racing Sprites.

    I am very interested in anything you might be able to add to m knowledge of the history of this car. Thanks for your time on this and I look forward to hearing from you. John Alpers

  9. Jerry Etzel says:

    Tom,
    We really had some great times with these old race cars.
    The real story about the Rolex Enduro in 1993 is that your driving and great pit stops had us 2nd overall to the “NASCAR” Aston DB4 with 30 minutes to go. My best was not good enough to keep ahead of the 2 liter 356’s.
    You are the best!
    Jerry

  10. Dan Ben-Ora says:

    Tom,
    Just stumbled across this. My good looks may have faded but I remember that 1984 meet like it was yesterday. Sitting in the Sprite on the trailer on the side of the freeway waiting for you to come back to fix the flat was the second most memorable event!
    Dan

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