gmhTODAY 08 gmhToday May June 2016 - Page 60

F or many of us, cars are just a means of transportation. We drive them to work, the doctor’s office, the kids’ soccer games and the grocery store. Others consider their cars to be an expression of their personalities and lifestyles. Tom Fry is altogether a different breed of car owner. Tom really knows his way around cars, which is a good thing. Why? Because Tom not only builds cars from the engine up, but then he straps himself in and races around the tracks at Laguna Seca, Sonoma and Thunder Hill at speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. For The Love Of Racing Tom Fry… the Car Guy Written By Robin Shepherd 60 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN “I’ve been building racing car engines since I was a teenager,” Tom said. “It’s a rarity nowadays but for me it’s half the fun.” “I tend to drive Fords. Basically, I’m driving the same car but with a new engine after about every 60 hours of racing. Otherwise, you risk blowing the engine.” Tom said three years ago he made a “rooky mistake.” He had just put a new engine in his car. With a new engine oil pressure monitoring is key, a thought that occurred to him in the middle of a race. A quick glance at the gauge was all it took and he slid off the track onto slippery wet grass and narrowly missed a crash. He gave the impression it wouldn’t be a mistake he’d make twice. Before each race, Tom climbs into a suit made out of heavy- weight fireproof NOMEX material, as well as fireproof gloves, sock and shoes. Needless to say, it gets pretty hot by the end of a race. Every ten years or so he has to buy a new helmet to keep up with changing regulations. “Race organizers put drivers into groups based on their average speed, from beginners to the fast guys. Each session is about 20 minutes of pure intense concentration. You have to think about MAY/JUNE 2016