Tell us a little about yourself. I am now 32 years old and living in Mooresville, NC with my wife Davi. We just built our dream home overlooking Lake Norman and we couldn’t be happier. More importantly, we are expecting our first child in late December.
You were a successful local expert racer what made you decide to pick up a wrench and move to California? Well saying I was successful is very generous of you, but I’ll take the compliment. Moving to California was a matter of practicality I wanted to make a living in the industry and wrenching was a way to do it.
Any advice for someone looking into breaking into the field? First of all, be aware of the demands of the job. It is not all glamour under the lights of a stadium. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up like in any profession. In my case, Joel Dengler gave me an opportunity and I ran with it from there. Check your ego at the door, work without complaint and most importantly network within the industry.
Best thing about the job? The best thing about the job is simply doing what you love for a living. I know it sounds cliché, but really how many people can honestly say they get up and enjoy their jobs.
Worst thing about the job? Worst thing about the job is simple: airports and airplanes. I’m still waiting for them to figure that whole Star Trek time travel thing out.
Proudest moment as a mechanic? Proudest moment as a mechanic was definitely winning the 2002 West Championship with Travis Preston. Championships are the sole focus for every team, rider and mechanic. Plus we beat Stewart that year. I only know one other guy who can lay claim to that and he is permanently out to pasture….
Over your years in the business you worked for some of the most well respected teams. Pro Circuit, Factory Honda and now Joe Gibbs Racing. Are there any similarities between all of them? All the top race teams have certain elements of similarity between them. Pro Circuit and Honda are established and their records speak for themselves. However don’t be surprised to see JGR making a strong showing in the coming years. Personnel wise, all the right pieces are in place. Jeremy Albrecht, as we all know has deep roots in the sport. Along with team owner Coy Gibbs, they have put together a truly professional organization. We will be here in the years to come and will be successful.
How about differences? The only difference is that we are not located in the epicenter of motocross which is still obviously So Cal. At times, their weather may be more cooperative in the winter, but that is all I can think of. Carmichael, Stewart, Reed, Ferry, Millsaps, Byrne and young guys like Stroupe and Dungey all call the Southeast home. Hard to argue with that fact.
Do you still get to ride? I still get to ride, but my days of competing are over. However, I do race mountain bikes competitively and proud to say that I won last year’s Charlotte MTB series in the expert class. Must be all the pollution from Cali and Jersey, when I got here I was breathing like Lance Armstrong.
You lived in California, New Jersey and now North Carolina. Where do you like it the best? By far I prefer North Carolina. The people are friendly, the state is beautiful and it is an awesome place to raise a family. I do miss all of my Jersey boys and family though.
Any chance of seeing you at Raceway Park racing again?
You will absolutely see me at Raceway Park again. After all these years it is still my favorite track and I consider the people there like part of my extended family. Don’t tell the AMA, but I am trying to shoehorn Kyle Bush’s NASCAR engine into a 450 frame. Can you say holeshot money…
Any closing words?
Thanks for your time and get better Tommy!