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"Tiger" Tom Pistone
Born: March 17, 1929
Soldier’s Field Competing against local legends such as Gene Marmor, Skippy Michaels, and Sal Tovella. In 1954, Tiger Tom won the Soldiers Field Track Championship. In 1955, Pistone began driving the car of Andy Granatelli and scored his second consecutive track championship. Pistone captured the track championship 5 times at Soldiers Field. Tiger Tom’s first victory in a NASCAR sanctioned race came on June 30, 1956 in the NASCAR Convertible Division driving his 1956 Chevy Convertible.
Pistone’s debut in the NASCAR Grand National Division came in 1955. He competed in the Wilkes 160 at North Wilkesboro driving his #9-A Chevrolet finishing 27th. Pistone returned to the series in 1956 making 3 starts but suffered mechanical failures in all 3 starts. In 1958, Pistone drove Hugh Babb’s #50 Chevrolet in 2 Grand National events scoring a 13th at Richmond and a 3rd at Martinsville.
Pistone reappeared in the 1959 NASCAR Grand National Division driving Carl Rupert’s #59 Rubert Safety Belt Ford in 21 of the season’s 44 events scoring wins at Trenton, New Jersey and Richmond. He also wheeled Tiny Lund’s #5 Chevrolet at Winston-Salem. All told in 22 starts, Pistone accumulated 2 wins, 12 top-5s, and 18 top-10s to finish 6th in the NASCAR Grand National Division Championship. Pistone returned to the driving chores for Rupert’s #59 Ford for the first two events of the 1960 season, but then parted ways with Rupert to drive W. T. Coppedge’s #59 Thor Chevrolet in 16 events and B. G. Holloway’s #59 Pontiac in 2 events. Pistone recorded a 3rd at Wilson, North Carolina accumulating 2 top-5s and 8 top-10s.
Pistone made only 4 starts in the Grand National Division in 1961 driving for B. G. Holloway. He scored an 8th place finish in the Atlanta 500 and a 10th place finish in the Daytona 500. For 1962 Pistone only competed in the Firecracker 250 at Daytona driving Lewis Osborne’s #97 Chevrolet but was involved in a crash on only the second lap.
Pistone was noticeably absent from the Grand National Division for 2 years until reappearing in 1965 driving Glen Sweet’s #08 and #59 Ford and Emory Gilliam’s #00 Ford in 33 events. He qualified on the pole for the Music City 200 at Nashville and recorded 4 top-5s and 8 top-10s. Pistone drove Sweet’s #59 Ford at the 1966 season opener in Augusta finishing 19th after suffering engine problems. He then made another 27 starts driving his own #59 Ford racking up 4 poles, 6 top-5s, and 6 top-10s while suffering a staggering 21 DNF’s Pistone also fielded the #59 Ford for Wendell Scott at Rockingham.
For 1967, Pistone drove his #59 Ford in the series season opener at Augusta finishing 6th and then drove Turkey Minton’s #74 Chevrolet in 8 events recording a 3rd place finish at the ½-mile dirt Savannah Speedway and a 6th place finish at North Wilkesboro. He recorded 1 top-5 and 5 top-10s for the season. In 1968, Pistone drove Minton’s #74 Chevrolet in two starts finishing 4th at Montgomery Speedway. He then drove his #12 Ford and Mercury in 3 events recording a 5th at Martinsville and a 3rd at Augusta. He also drove Lyle Stetler’s #55 Ford in 2 events garnering a 7th place finish at Langley Field Speedway, Hampton, Virginia. He fielded the #12 Mercury for Earl Balmer at Charlotte and the #12 Ford for Jim Hurtubise at North Wilkesboro and the #59 Mercury for Hurtubise at Darlington.
In 1970 Pistone fielded his #59 Ford for Bunkie Blackburn at Rockingham, for Richard Brickhouse at Charlotte and both of the year’s 2 races at Talladega, and for Hurtubise for the Daytona 500 where Hurtubise recorded a 7th place finish.
In 1971, Pistone fielded his #59 Ford for Vic Elford in the Daytona 500 and for Dr. Don Tarr for the Firecracker 400 at Daytona and for the Talladega 500 where Tarr finished 7th.
Pistone returned to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1982 as a car owner fielding the #59 Russ Togs Buick for Tighe Scott in the Daytona 500. In 1986, he fielded a NASCAR Busch Grand National Series entry – his #59 Pontiac – at Martinsville for Todd Bodine.
In 11 years of competing in the NASCAR Grand National Division as a driver, Tiger Tom recorded 130 starts, 5 poles, 2 wins, 29 top-5s, and 53 top-10s. Pistone established Tiger Tom Pistone Race Cars and Parts in 1950 supplying parts and building cars for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Winston Cup Series, Busch Grand National Series, and Craftsman Truck Series over the years. In 1955, Pistone’s business opened at a location north of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina.
From Tiger Tom's Website:
Tiger Tom Pistone was born on March 17, 1929. His family could have never have dreamed that he would grow up to be one of the finest competitors to ever strap himself into a race car. The young Pistone began his career in his native Chicago at Soldiers Field during the late 1940's. Early in his career, Tiger Tom flipped his racer 22 times in one season. His quick wit and winning smile made him an instant favorite with the fans!
Competing against local legends such as Gene Marmor, Skippy Michaels, and Sal Tovella, Tiger Tom drove his car no. 3 to the track championships at Soldiers Field in 1954. A perennial point chaser, Pistone was always a top contender for the title at the fabled speedway. One of the cars Tiger Tom utilized during his 1954 championship drive was a four door Pontiac. His success caused him to be idolized by thousands.
One of his biggest admirers was a youngster from Elmhurst, Illinois named Fred Lorenzen. As a young man, Fred's goal was to one day be as great as his hero, Tiger Tom Pistone!!!!
Running for promoter and longtime friend, Andy Granatelli, the Tiger drove a very sanitary Chevrolet to the Soldiers Field title in 1955. He also entered his first NASCAR Grand National race that year in the October 100 miler at North Wilkesboro Speedway. An overheating engine relegated him to a 27th place finish in that event. During the 1950's , winning the track title at Soldiers Field was quite a feat. Tiger Tom Pistone captured the crown an amazing five consecutive times!!!! An he still holds the track record at Soldiers Field to this very day. Promoter Andy Granatelli rewarded Tiger Tom with a huge trophy for claiming his fifth championship!!!
Tiger Tom's first victory in a NASCAR sanctioned race came on June 30, 1956. An enormous crowd of 38,000 screaming fans watched him drive his '56 Chevy ragtop to victory in a 100 mile convertible contest at Soldiers Field. He drove his car no. 54 around the legendary Curtis Turner with six laps to go and held on for the win!!! Tiger Tom was also very successful at Chicago's Raceway Park. It was not uncommon to find him collecting the spoils of victory after a hard fought struggle on the race track. By today's criteria, 1959 would be considered Tom Pistone's rookie season on NASCAR's Grand National (now Winston Cup) tour. To this very day, his remains one of the most outstanding records ever compiled by a driver during his freshman year in major league stock car racing. Driving a Thunderbird, the little dynamo scored two victories and logged a dozen top five finishes enroute to a sixth place finish in the point standings.
The beginning of the 1961 season found Tom Pistone racing a new Pontiac under the banner of the GO-GO-GO corporation. Pistone and Bill France Sr. were very instrumental in helping Lynn and B.G. Holloway form a potent three car team that featured General Motors cars. Team drivers were, Tiger Tom Pistone, Ned Jarrett and Johnny Allen. Jarrett drove the teams no. 11 Chevy to the 1961 Grand National Championship. In 1966 NASCAR and Ford Motor Company became embroiled in a major controversy over the eligibility of Ford's single overhead cam engine to compete on the GN circuit. A boycott by Ford led most observers to believe there would be no competitive Ford's to challenge the onslaught of Chrysler teams. Someone forgot to tell this to Tiger Tom Pistone! Driving a modestly financed two year old Ford, the Tiger was a victory contender.
Tom Pistone's ability as a driver is equaled only by his expertise in the field of designing and building race cars. Drivers who have won races utilizing the Pistone chassis include the likes of Harry Gant and the late Bobby Issac. However one of the hottest combinations of the late 1960's was the team of Tiger Tom Pistone and his great friend, Tiny Lund...Both were renowned as practical jokers, the colorful duo won races and set records throughout the Southeast. In 1987 Tiger Tom Pistone took time off from his race car building and parts business long enough to compete in a race for retired drivers, held at Hickory Motor Speedway. And showing the same skill and determination he exhibited at Soldiers Field in the 1950's... Tiger Tom Pistone found himself in a very familiar place once again....VICTORY LANE! (Ed. Note: Thanks to Tiger Tom's Daughter & Website)
Some Tiger Tom Stats
1966 - Islip Speedway - 300 laps - July 16 Record 1406 finish Pistone had pole Bobby Allison won
- Smokey Mountain Raceway - June 9 Record 2280 Pistone had pole David Pearson won
- Richmond Speedway - May 15 Record 2536 Pistone had pole David Pearson won
- Columbia SC - April 9 Record 2473 Pistone had pole David Pearson won
- Nashville Speedway - June 3 Pistone had pole Dick Hutchinson won
1951 at Soldier's field
With Andy Granatelli
Tiny Lund in car. Bunkie Blackburn with helmet in hand.
Tiny Lund Holding Tiger Tom Upside Down
Trophy Taller Than Tom!
Colleen Marmor Writes: I think that is my Dad, Gene Marmor and Pistone is sitting on my Dad’s shoulders. That’s funny to see this web site, growing up in what I called gasoline alley & going to races all around the Midwest in our purple bus. Found the Tiger Tom Pistone page by accident, but glad I did. There are lots of great photos, I surely do recognize the name and have heard so many stories. Made me smile as my Dad is on his way out of this world. 1/5/10
Tiger Tom Autograph
Rex White on Left, Tiger Tom on the Right
Who's in the Middle?? Email
Tiger with Harry Gant
Tiger with Gov. Busch
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