Tommy Ivo

Tommy Ivo (born April 18, 1936), also known as "TV Tommy"[1] and "Instant Ivo"[2] is an actor and drag racer, who was active in the 1960s racing community. In the late 1950s, Ivo raced a twin (side by side) Buick nailhead-engined dragster which was the first gasoline-powered dragster to break the nine-second barrier.[3]

Tommy Ivo
Born (1936-04-18) April 18, 1936
ResidenceBurbank, California, U.S.
OccupationActor and Drag racer
Years active1944-73

The car held the Drag News AA/GD et record at 8.69. The Twin Buick also was the first gas dragster to record speeds of 170, 175 and 180 mph which were Standard 1320 records as well. It was unique in appearance and won numerous races, including NASCAR's first National Drag Race. Later he designed a four-engine, four-wheel-drive dragster he called Showboat (with a quartet of Nailheads),[4] but NHRA ruled it the first "exhibition" dragster, and he was unable to race it.[5]

Ivo was born in Denver, Colorado. His acting career began in the early 1940s, with notable performances including Cousin Arne in I Remember Mama (1948), and William Button in Plymouth Adventure in 1952. In 1955 Ivo appeared as Shelby in the "Heart of a Cheater" episode of the Lone Ranger TV show. From 1959-61, Ivo appeared as Herbie Bailey on The Donna Reed Show.

Ivo guest starred in an episode of the syndicated adventure television series, Rescue 8 and in two episodes of Leave It To Beaver. He also guest starred on the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Sugarfoot and on the NBC western series The Tall Man. In several episodes of Father Knows Best, he played one of the Bud Anderson's friends. During the 1961-62 season, Ivo played the role of Haywood Botts in another ABC sitcom, Margie. In 1963 he appeared in the "Honeymoon Hotel" episode of the Petticoat Junction. [6]

In 1963, Ivo's Barnstormer (a nitro-burning 392 Hemi-powered slingshot, purchased to replace the failed Videoliner[7]) became one of only two seven-second Top Fuel diggers, so he staged a Seven Second Match Race with the other, the Greer Black Prudhomme car, driven by Don Prudhomme, at San Gabriel Drag Strip. (Prudhomme won.)[8] During 1964, Ivo travelled to England, with Don Garlits and other racers, to participate in the First International Drag Festival, a six-event series that did much to promote drag racing in the United Kingdom.[9]

During 1972 and 1973, Ivo attended 100 race meets; this record was matched only by "Jungle Jim" Liberman and Ed "The Ace" McCulloch.[10]

He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2005.[11]



  1. Hot Rod, 12/86, pg. 27.
  2. Scherr, Elana. "Tommy Ivo's Treasures", in Hot Rod, 8/2014, pg. 76 caption.
  4. Scherr, p.77 caption.
  7. Scherr, pp.78 caption and 83; Taylor, Thom. "T.V. Tommy Ivo Videoliner/Bushwacker", in "Beauty Beyond the Twilight Zone", p.31.
  8. Scherr, p. 78 caption.
  10. (retrieved 14 September 2018)
  11. Motorsports Hall of Fame of America website (retrieved 24 November 2018)
  12. Tommy Ivo at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
  13. No. 25: Tommy Ivo; NHRA; written in 2001; Retrieved March 6, 2008 Archived July 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine


  • Goldrup, Tom and Jim (2002). Growing Up on the Set: Interviews with 39 Former Child Actors of Film and Television. McFarland & Co. pp. 143–152. ISBN 1476613702.
  • Holmstrom, John (1996). The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995. Norwich: Michael Russell, p. 197.
  • Scherr, Elana. "Tommy Ivo's Treasures", in Hot Rod, 8/2014, p75-83.
  • Taylor, Thom.  "Beauty Beyond the Twilight Zone" in Hot Rod, April 2017, pp. 30–43.
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