Currently leading in nationals standings
Tom Boyd is a happy man. Now that their children are grown and off on their own, Tom and wife Cheryl spend on average of two weekends a month competing in National Auto Sports Association (NASA) and NASCAR races. Cheryl saved money and gave Tom a check so he could buy his race car. Tom says he couldn't do without her.
”I race for INEX,” Tom says, “which is supposed to mean inexpensive, but nothing about racing is inexpensive. I race for two different championships during the year. One is NASA and one is INEX. INEX is U.S. Legends Cars International so we race people from Morocco, Georgia (the one in Europe), Canada, Brazil, all over the world.
”There are a lot of different cars involved in our form of racing. I race a Thunder Roadster, which is a different model of the Legends car. It has a longer wheel base, bigger tires and on average is five seconds faster per lap than the Legends cars. We turn in times at Sonoma that are eight seconds underneath the NASCAR, so our cars are pretty fast. Our cars weigh 1,500 pounds with us in it. That's real light.”
The races Tom competes in take place on road courses of about two-and-a-half miles. He prefers the road course racing to circle track racing. They hit top speeds of around 140 mph at Thunder hill, with an average speed of around 100 mph there and around 88 mph at Sears Point. But on the course, they will slow down to 30 mph for turns and because they're going up and down hills, there's a lot of shifting involved.
”I like course racing because you get to turn right and left and it's more fun and more challenging for me. A circle track racer will argue that point and I'm not taking anything away from circle track racing. Circle track is fun. But road course racing is just more involved.”
He races at Thunder Hill in Willows, at Sears Point in Sonoma, and Laguna Seca where he did some driving school training. He also races at Las Vegas and won a race there last December. The weekend of June 23 and 24, he and Cheryl went to a NASCAR race.
”We were a preliminary event. There were 39 cars in our field and I finished fifth out of my class. There are two different classes of cars racing. There were 13 cars in my division and I finished fifth. We raced Saturday and the NASCAR racers raced on Sunday. A lot of people told us our race was the most exciting of the weekend.”
This is only his second year racing. Last year he placed fourth in the national standings. He has finished first four times this year and is leading in points in the national standings.
He could wind up with a top rating, but he says there are too many variables in racing to take anything for granted.
”At any given time you could wreck your car, it could blow up, or a flat tire could take you out of the race,” he says. “Any motor sport has some danger to it, but I feel safer in my race car than I do in my street car that I drive around. There's more protection in the race car. I'm wearing a helmet, a fire suit, and I'm strapped in with a five-point harness. I've wrecked my car pretty bad a couple of times and came out unscathed.”
There's no insurance for race car crashes that he knows of, so if he wrecks his car, the expenses of rebuilding it come out of his pocket. Even without crashes, racing is expensive. To help with expenses, his own business, TNT Drywall, sponsors his racing. Outcast Sport Fishing also sponsors his racing career. And, he says, the community of racers is always there to help each other out.
”With our group of people, if you wreck your car at the track, all your competitors jump in and help you rebuild it. Nobody wants to race without you. It's a big close-knit family.”
A typical weekend race starts with a practice session in the morning, and then a qualifying session. The fastest lap in a half-hour session determines a racer's starting position. Races are about half-an-hour long and the cars hold enough gas to get through the race. If anything breaks on the car, the racer is out.
The Legends cars originated in Charlotte, North Carolina and next year, the National Championship Race will be held there. The championship race is rotated through the states. Last year it was held at Sears Point. This year it will be held in Las Vegas.
Tom and Cheryl travel with the other races in a group to the various races and they all camp and stay together. They spend the whole weekend camping at the races.
”We stay in the NASCAR garages and they supply us showers, and a big barbecue on Saturday nights. We urge the public to come watch. It's $10 to get in for the whole weekend and there's a free barbecue on Saturday night. It's fun. There's a lot of race fans that show up and support us but mainly it's the racers and their families and friends.
”We're very competitive. Pretty much every race car driver out there is out there to win. I know I am. But it's also for the camaraderie with your friends. People in the racing community are nice. If somebody gets hurt, we're all there to help them out. Just like a big happy family with a lot of nice people. It was a little intimidating at first, but I'm having a lot of fun now.”
His next event will be in August at Thunder Hill in Willows.
”If anybody has a dream to race,” he sys, “make that jump and go race. It's a lot of fun.”