Sunday, March 27, 2016

A 'Giant' on the Bay Area racing scene is remembered

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There was a large turnout of racing friends and family at the Friday morning memorial service held at Stockton 99 Speedway for Thomas “Tom” Manning, 74, long time Chief Steward for the Bay Cities Racing Association.  Tom passed away on March 18 at home in Tracy surrounded by his family with his beloved dog "Midget" in his lap.

Tom Manning was born in Gloversville New York and first saw races at the half-mile dirt Fonda Speedway near his childhood home.  During the Vietnam War, Tom served as in the United States Army as a firefighter at Fort Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska.  

Once his military service was completed, Tom moved to the Bay Area and worked as a machinist, first at Lukes & Shorman Porsche service shop in Albany for 23 years and later at Hasselgren Racing Engines in Berkeley for ten years before he retired as a machinist in 1996.  

During those years, Tom also road raced Porsche sports cars and raced super-modified cars on the dirt at Vallejo, Santa Maria, Atascadero, and Clovis Speedways, and later served as a track official at Petaluma and Antioch Speedways. 

Tom worked on the first Porsche entry at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the twin-engine creation owned by early BCRA midget racer Al Stein that unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for the 1966 Indianapolis '500.'    
Tom who stood 6’6” tall, never really retired, as he and wife Linda reopened Altamont Speedway near Tracy which they managed from 1995 to 1998.  Tom and Linda then went to work for the BCRA organization, with Tom as the BCRA midget Chief Steward for 18 years succeeding Tom Palmer and Linda working alongside as the BCRA Business Manager.  Tom was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 2008, (a year after Linda) and was the recipient of the Lloyd Nygren Midget Sportsmanship Award in 2015. 

The service featured memories of Tom shared by his friends and family with a military honor guard from the Stockton American Legion Post.  A P-51 Mustang warbird flyover by three-time BCRA champion Terry Tarditi and laps turned on the Stockton ¼-mile pavement in midgets driven by nine-time BCRA champion Floyd Alvis and 2013 BCRA car owner champion Gary Conterno closed the memorial a racing legend.

Tom's survivors include his wife of 25 years, Linda; two sons, Scott of Klamath Falls, Ore., and Steven of Tracy; two daughters, Kelly Johnson, and her husband, Chet, of Twenty-Nine Palms and Kimberlee Dahl, and her husband, Randy, of Tucson, Ariz.; two sisters, Barbara Leo of Gloversville and Kathy Manning of Johnstown, N.Y.; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Contributions in Tom Manning’s name may be sent to the Bay Cities Benevolent Fund, P.O. Box 398, Tracy, CA 95378

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