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Ivo 80th birthday celebration comes to NHRA Museum

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As a lifelong showman, even birthdays become an excuse to entertain, which is why “TV” Tommy Ivo will be celebrating his 80th birthday with a public birthday bash at the NHRA Motorsports Museum later this month.

Born April 18, 1936, in Denver, his acting career started at age 7 and lasted for the next 19 years, but it’s not as though he faded away into an early retirement or became another problematic grown-up child actor afterward. Instead, he continued his passion for fast cars powered by Buick V-8s by going on the drag racing circuit, competing in a series of dragsters and exhibition cars until the early 1980s.

No mere novelty act, Ivo built cars as much to thrill the fans as to set records. He became the first to hit 170, 180, and 190 MPH in the quarter-mile and after his retirement found himself inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He’d previously been the subject of one of the NHRA Motorsports Museum’s earliest exhibitions when it gathered his four-engined Showboat, his twin-engined dragster, and his Model T hot rod show car in 2002.


The birthday celebration will include some of Ivo’s better-known cars and a panel of Ivo’s contemporaries telling stories about the showman. Presented by the Television Motion Picture Car Club, the event will take place a couple days before his actual birthday on April 16. For more information, visit