Originally TTRS was an offshoot of my own racing endeavors and I concentrated on the mechanical part of the business with race prep, restoration, tuning, etc. As the business grew I began the track service aspect by tending to customer cars at various venues. It was at this time I decided to expand the business by offering various products, (lubricants for example), that were not available trackside when one needed them and then the product line just continued to evolve more and more!
At the track with a trio of Vintage Lotus 51 Formula Fords. The Yellow #6 car is one I restored and sold for a customer in Wisconsin and the fellow who bought it convinced me to start track service...mostly for his car! I located this motorhome and trailer for him and we stayed at the track while he stayed in a hotel...something that began a tradition for us.
Our first motorhome and modest beginnings selling a few things such as lubricants, Bell Helmets, driver's suits and gear and a few other bits. One of the first pieces of "advertising" I invested in was the TTRS banner hanging from the awning...and I still have it, hanging in my garage!
As time went on we expanded. We got into the tire business and that meant we needed a trailer for all of the gear, plus we needed something stronger to pull it with...not to mention that we needed more "living space" since as of October 20, 1996 we would have another trackside member...our daughter Christina who attended her first race in Palm Springs, California when she was just three weeks old! She would later take her first steps at another race track...Buttonwillow, just outside of Bakersfield, California!
The 1967 GMC 4107 bus in the previous photo was nice but not quite finished and as our track schedule intensified I knew I wouldn't have time to deck it out properly. I sold it and found this beauty, a 1958 GMC 4104 that had all the bells and whistles we needed plus a "4 corner fully adjustable (from the cockpit) air ride suspension"! We did a lot of vintage racing so this baby was a natural and it did the job. At 35' plus towing the tag 24' trailer, (extra tall, 8.5' inside height), we were quite long going down the highway but it was the most stable tow rig that I had ever driven!
Powered by a 6-71 Detroit diesel with a completely non-syncro 4 speed it took some practice to learn to drive! It still had the original air ride driver's seat that I ended up swapping out for an OMP race seat that I modified to fit on the air ride seat rails! Behind the seat was a sofa bed that Jeannie and Christina occupied watching never ending episodes of "Barney", Madeline" and a host of other videos while I drove on!!!
Here's Christina manning the "Driver's Den" where we had Suits, Helmets, Shoes, Gloves and more available for our clientele.
Busting tires with my Hunter TC 350. At the time this machine was the most state of the art and in the interest of protecting my customer's wheels I had to have one. When I bought this machine it was only the 6th one sold west of the Mississippi. Originally designed and built in Italy this machine was used exclusively in F1 and Indy. Next to it was my Coats wheel balancer. I also had an Ammco rim clamp machine, a manual hand operated tire machine and an old fashioned bubble balancer that came with me.
Did I say tires? This photo was taken at a SCCA Double National at Phoenix International Raceway. The two Dodge's in the picture were "factory" efforts and just prior to this event we did some private tire testing with Hoosier at Firebird Raceway, (which caused me to be banned from that track, but that's another story). At this particular weekend event I sold and mounted well over 300 tires and actually out performed the Goodyear guys. Needless to say I was one happy but very tired and sore puppy!!!
Just a couple more shots of that Double National
A few More shots of our track set up showing some of our wares
Here you can see that our tire line included Avon as well as Hoosier and we ended up selling Pirelli (primarily at the Ferrari Challenge Races) and Goodyear. You can also see we had a supply of Goodridge Steel Braided line and a vast assortment of Goodridge fittings as well.
I love Bell Helmets, but I did offer Arai and Shoei also. This was the "Driver's Den". The OMP products were very popular and FIA as well as SFI approved.
VARA Los Angeles Grand Prix Vintage Race if memory serves me right.
This is just one reason I was a big Bell Helmet supporter. The Formula Ford driver who wore this helmet walked away from a pretty nasty shunt where one of the rear trailing arms tried to penetrate this helmet. This was a late M2 model (ca. 1997?), made from Kevlar, that predated the production M3 Kevlar hat. I've had other customer's who wore Bell Helmets that also were appreciative that I strongly recommended and sold them on Bell.
All work and no play makes Tommy a very unhappy boy! Occassionally I did get to strap a helmet on and "test" a customer car on the track!
Okay, fun's over, put the charger back on and get my ass back to work!
I'd be lying if I said that this part of the business was all fun and games. It was damn hard work, both physically and mentally and with prep time lasted all week long...very long hours and, quite frankly, very little pay as the mark-ups on product were not what you may think, (especially the bloody tires!!!) and the investment was very high in proportion. But...I loved it. I loved the travel, I loved the cars, I loved the racing, but most of all I loved the people!!! The racing community is a very tight knit bunch and the passion shared is beyond belief. This was a most special time in my life and I thank those who were a part of it, all of you!