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Tommy Bolton

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“Your bike is ready.”

I got a call today about 3 hours after dropping off my 2008 BMW R1200GS Adventure at Eurotek in OKC for some recall and extended warranty work. When I saw the my caller ID I assumed they were calling with some type of question about maintenance.

“Did I hear you right? My bike is ready? Are you sure you have the right person? I just dropped it off.”

“Yep, we got it all done. You can stop by any time and pick it up.”

“I haven’t even left town yet. I will be right over.”

I thought I must have been in a time warp or something. Same day service from a motorcycle dealer? I quickly looked out the window of my truck to make sure there wasn’t a sun spot, or make sure Aston Kutcher wasn’t around to Punk me.

You see, I am used to the service at BMW of OKC from many years ago. I bought my first GS there in 2002 and by 2003 I learned that one doesn’t take one’s bike to the BMW store if you wanted to ride it anytime in the next two months. Instead I learned to work on my bikes myself so that I could actually get some riding time in during the summer. I learned to do tire changes, oil changes, valve adjustments, all the routine maintenance items. If not my bike would be gone for a month or two during riding season, even if I called well ahead of time, scheduled an appointment, brought the bike in the day I said I would bring it in – it would still sit at the BMW shop for 4 weeks before they even looked at it.

Finally a BMW dealer in OKC that provides outstanding service and does what they say they will do. Refreshing.
Finally a BMW dealer in OKC that provides outstanding service and does what they say they will do. Refreshing.

I had been putting off getting this recall and extended warranty work done on my R1200GS because I figured my bike would disappear into the maw of the bike shop and I wouldn’t see it again until months later. I finally broke down and called the new BMW dealer in OKC, Eurotek – now a BMW, Ducati, and Triumph dealer in OKC.

“Hey, I got a 2008 BMW R1200GSA that has some recall work needed. Can you guys do that for me?”

“What is your VIN number.” I gave them that info.

“We don’t have all the parts in but we will order the parts and give you call when they get in and schedule the work.”

Yea, yea I thought. SURE you will give me a call. I made a mental note to call Eurotek back in a couple of weeks to see if they got the parts in. Nobody calls you back like they say they will, right?

Lo and behold, I got a call two days later. “We have your parts in. When would you like to bring your bike in?”

“Huh? My name is James Pratt. Are you sure you are calling the correct number? I don’t own a Ferrari or Bentley.”

“Yes sir. This is Eurotek. You have a BMW R1200GS Adventure right?”

Yep, they had the correct person. We scheduled a time for the following week and I brought it in exactly when we agreed. Dropped my bike off on a cold, wet, rainy February day. I trailered the bike to the shop because I figured I would need to drop it off and then pick it up a few weeks later when it was done. I loaded up my Aprilia 280 Climber observed trials bike beside the big GS and after dropping off my Beemer, I drove on down to Tombo Racing to have my racer/bike builder friend Jimmy Cook weld up the aluminum frame. Afterwards I hung around and chatted with owner Tommy Bolton, loaded up my Aprilia, ran another errand in Midwest City, and as I was leaving MWC for home in Edmond I got the call from Eurotek – “your bike is ready.”

Tombo Racing's Jimmy Cook welding the aluminum frame on my Aprilia 280 Climber observed trials motorcycle.
Tombo Racing’s Jimmy Cook welding the aluminum frame on my Aprilia 280 Climber observed trials motorcycle.

I just knew two planets had slammed together, or one of these Oklahoma earthquakes had rattled someone’s brain, or maybe my friend and adventure rider guru Bill Dragoo was pulling my leg. Sure enough, I drove back over to Eurotek and there was my GS, all ready to go and running like a top. They replaced the fuel pump, fuel gage strip, did some adjustment on the clutch cable, and replaced some type of flange in the rear hub assembly. All at no cost to me, paid for my BMW Motorrad.

Dang. Double dang. These guys did what they said they would do. What a novel concept!

I normally don’t write a post about a motorcycle shop, but I normally don’t get unbelievable service like this either. People actually call me back? Exceed my expectations? Communicate clearly and do what they say they are going to do? Is this an alternate dimension?

If you are looking for a BMW, Ducati or Triumph, man, you will have to look far and wide to find a better dealer than Eurotek OKC. I am very, very pleasantly surprised that we have an A#1 top notch BMW dealer in OKC now. It is about time.

A Duc in the rain. This Ducati Diablo was sitting outside on a cold, rainy February day. Poor Duc.
A Duc in the rain. This Ducati Diablo was sitting outside on a cold, rainy February day. Poor Duc.

Today I sat down with my good friend Tommy Bolton with Tombo Racing just to check up on what his team of go-fast guys have been doing lately. I just happened to have some time free and was driving by his place and had my gear, so here you go!

Tommy tells us that this has been his busiest year in drag racing in quite some time. In addition to competing in the PMRA series in Tulsa, they have been to ManCup races in Memphis, to Fontana California for some west coast races, and to Louisiana for a bit of racing – all with good results and several 6 second passes, quite a few wins, and one championship.

Tombo Racing Bagger in white.
Tombo Racing Bagger in white.

In addition, this year Tommy started building his own Tombo Racing performance bagger motorcycles. These are not some chopped up custom bike, but instead the frames have an MSO and are custom built by Tombo Racing. This means the bike can be insured and financed like any other production motorcycle. Big front wheels are the “thing” in the bagger world, and Tommy has bikes with 26″ wheels and one in the shop with a 30″ that will be out soon. Pretty sweet looking.

So cue up your phone and get the update on Oklahoma’s own Tombo Racing for 2015.

Our good friend and drag racing icon Tommy Bolton recently moved to a new location in Oklahoma City. Now located at 1033 S. Grand Blvd in OKC, this new 4,000 square foot shop doubles the space of the prior location. “We now have room to work and get more bikes done on time, rather than having to move one bike off the lift and put another one on the lift” says Bolton.

2014 was a very good year for Tombo Racing. Several customers won drag racing championships using Tombo Racing power and Tommy has been featured in Kawasaki USA’s rider magazine. If you get a chance, stop by and say hi and tell them Ride Oklahoma sent you.

Tombo Racing
405-606-TOMBO
www.tomboracing.com

Tombo Racing has moved to a new 4,000 square foot facility located 1/4 mile west of I-35 on S Grand Blvd.
Tombo Racing has moved to a new 4,000 square foot facility located 1/4 mile west of I-35 on S Grand Blvd.

Originally published February 2009

Tommy Bolton, championship drag racer, race winning engine tuner, and hot-rod Hayabusa builder, recently ran across a 2006 Yamaha Stratoliner that was in need of some tender loving care. On a recent trip to Houston, Tommy spotted the shell of the Yamaha’s big v-twin cruiser that had suffered the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

After close inspection of the engine to ensure it was free from water damage, Tommy offered the owner the miserly sum of $400, expecting to be turned down without comment.  Surprisingly the owner accepted Tommy’s offer.  Shortly thereafter the battered Yamaha was loaded in the back of Tommy’s pickup, heading north to Oklahoma City and a complete “Tombo Touch” rebuild.

What is the “Tombo Touch”? While normally used to turn the latest high performance 4-cylinder sport bikes into tire shredding, arm stretching, fire breathing machines of polished chrome and glistening paint, this time it was used to breath fire and sparkle into Yamaha’s big 1854cc (113 cubic inch) V-Twin bruiser.

The first step was to completely disassemble the bike and have the frame, front forks and wheels powder coated black by the wizards at Coat Pro. This provides a longer lasting and more durable finish than a painted frame. While the bike was apart, Tommy sent the frame to Steve Moyer, who straightened the frame and lowered the front and rear end 1.5” to give the bike it’s mean, low, aggressive stance.

While the bike was apart, Tommy sent the seat to Eli at Easy Trim for a custom alligator covering.  “I caught the alligator by hand, wrestled him to the ground, and pealed the skin right off him so we could use for this seat” jokes Tommy. “Stay tuned for pictures!” Tommy also wrestled his friends at R&B cycles for a set of Harley Davidson beach bars low profile tires, which enhanced the low profile look he was after.

Of course, any Tombo Touch bike would not be complete with Tommy working his magic on the engine.  Tommy used his experience of building six second/250 mph drag bikes to tweak extra performance out of the big Yamaha motor. A set of Patrick Racing cams improved engine airflow, adding power to the top end and increasing torque. A set of straight Cobra exhaust pipes give the bike a deep, throaty rumble.

To add the finishing touch to Tommy’s metric screamer, he called Tim Rains at 2Brothers Painting to apply the custom paint job.  “Tommy first suggested a two tone job, but I felt this bike would be look better with flames” said Tim.  Tommy agreed and told Tim “Do your thing!”  Tim chose PPG paint with a base coat of black.  He then applied the flames and added a PPG clear coat.  “The clear coat is crucial, since it protects the base coat and makes the paint more durable” explains Tim.

After 3 months the end result is a low slung, pavement wrinkling Yamaha Stratoliner returned to life from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina by a master bike builder. Punching the starter button on the big Yamaha immediately brings to life a deep, powerful rumble.  Unlike some V-twin’s that are all noise and no power, you know this lump of steel has plenty of ponies under the hood. Flicking the bike into first gear and dropping the clutch will easily light up the rear tire as the ample torque makes it easy to burn off some expensive rubber.  As with any Tombo Touch bike, you know it is not only going to look great, but have some serious power under the tank.  Yet unlike a full on drag race bike, Tommy’s street legal creations are easy to live with and maintain. You get high performance along with “streetability”. “I like to make great looking bikes that go fast, but I want to keep the bike reliable so the owner can enjoy riding the bike and not working on it” explains Tommy.

In our opinion he was successful on both counts.  This bike not only looks great, but it goes very, very fast! Tommy Bolton, with the help of the local Oklahoma motorcycling community, resurrected this broken beauty from the scrap piles of Hurricane Katrina to cruise the mean streets of Oklahoma in style.

Tommy Bolton resurrected this Yamaha Stratoliner from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
Tommy Bolton resurrected this Yamaha Stratoliner from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
The custom paint job was applied by Two Brothers Paint.
The custom paint job was applied by Two Brothers Paint.

This story originally appeared in Ride Oklahoma Magazine August 2007:

Six seconds. That’s not much time. A tight end can run 50 yards in six seconds. A Nissan Altima goes zero to 60 in just six seconds. And a Tommy Bolton-built motorcycle rips through the quarter-mile in a fraction over six seconds, at more than 200 mph. Oklahoma motorcycle enthusiasts respectfully refer to this as “The Tombo Touch.”

Southern California was the hotbed of motorcycling in the late 1970’s. As a teenager growing up there, Tommy Bolton became known as the “King of Cali.” He had no formal drag racing experience, but he did have quick reflexes and a penchant for power. With those assets, Bolton made a living on the unforgiving streets of his neighborhood, daring anyone who fancied having a fast bike to race for real money – over forty thousand dollars at one high-stakes competition. No timing lights and no rules, except those of the street. Just put your money where your mouth is, find an empty road and get it on – mano-a-mano. You were quick or you were gone. Or, at least your money was. Tommy would tune his bike during the day and hustle street races at night. His reputation of street racing for big bucks is still a legend on the rough-and-tumble streets of Southern California.

Fast forward five years. Bolton had moved to the more organized world of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and International Drag Bike Association (IDBA). There, he was the first African-American to run over 200 mph on a drag bike. He recorded more than 200 wins and four championships in a stellar career as a professional drag racer. Bolton also served on the prestigious NHRA rider advisor board, helping to shape the sport of drag racing for future riders.

In 1994, the drag racing scene in California was changing, with tracks closing and government regulations making it increasingly difficult to build new tracks. Because of his nationwide travel schedule, Bolton decided to move to the Central U.S. to make it easier to travel to races on both the east and west coasts. Lucky for us, he chose to base his activities in Oklahoma City. Bolton decided at that point to concentrate his efforts on building and tuning  drag race bikes rather than riding them. He spent two years as crew chief for multi-time national champion Ricky Gasden just before Ricky moved to a Kawasaki factory ride, and also served as crew chief for multi-time NHRA and Prostar winner Michael Phillips.

In 1995, Bolton met Glen Nickleberry, an Oklahoma youngster with the lightning reflexes of a drag racer. Tom decided to sponsor Glen and put together a winning team, with Nickleberry assumed the riding chores. Out of Bolton’s shop in South OKC, Tombo Racing quickly dominated the local drag race scene, still holding the fastest recorded elapsed time on a motorcycle at Thunder Valley Raceway in Noble. Bolton and Nickleberry now run Funny Bikes. With over 150 wins as a bike builder, Tombo Racing is a force to be reckoned with at any drag strip, being the only Professional Motorcycle Racing Association (PMRA) rider/tuner team to have won a Prostar national-level race.

In addition to drag bikes, Tombo Racing Engines and Performance Toyz builds fast, powerful bikes for well-heeled street riders who not only want to look good, but also want the fastest machines on the street. Specializing in Suzukis, Tommy and his team will modify stock Hayabusas or GSX-R1000s and add nitrous oxide, turbochargers, stretched swingarms and extra-wide  rear tires to stick the 500+ horsepower to ground. These tire-shredding, pavement-scorching monsters are the baddest of the bad. Able to run subeight- second quarter-miles on street legal motorcycles without wheelie bars, bikes with “The Tombo Touch” rule the underground world of street drag racing. Of course, plenty of chrome and custom paint make the bikes look as good as they go.

If you notice a motorcycle with a “Tombo Racing” sticker on the swingarm at your next local bike night, you might think twice before challenging the rider to a drag race. You could become a victim of “The Tombo Touch” and find your wallet a little thinner than it was maybe . . . six seconds . . . earlier.

Tommy Bolton with a custom built Hayabusa
Tommy Bolton with a custom built Hayabusa
Tommy Bolton on a Tombo Racing built Kawasaki Vaquero
Tommy Bolton on a Tombo Racing built Kawasaki Vaquero
Some of the Tombo Racing team at OKC Bricktown
Some of the Tombo Racing team at OKC Bricktown
Tommy and Tim Howard in Bricktown
Tommy and Tim Howard in Bricktown
A custom Tombo Racing bike at Thunder Valley Raceway
A custom Tombo Racing bike at Thunder Valley Raceway
Tombo Racing sponsored rider Glen Nickleberry and his son "Little Nick".
Tombo Racing sponsored rider Glen Nickleberry and his son “Little Nick”.
Tommy Bolton giving last minute instructions to Glen Nickleberry on his Tombo Racing Funny Bike.
Tommy Bolton giving last minute instructions to Glen Nickleberry on his Tombo Racing Funny Bike.
Tommy Bolton on a Harley in Los Angeles circa 1984
Tommy Bolton on a Harley in Los Angeles circa 1984
Tommy Bolton at the drag strip in the early 1980's
Tommy Bolton at the drag strip in the early 1980’s
Tombo Racing Hayabusa
Tombo Racing Hayabusa
Tommy Bolton with a custom built Yamaha
Tommy Bolton with a custom built Yamaha
Tim Howard on a Tombo Racing Hayabusa
Tim Howard on a Tombo Racing Hayabusa
Tommy Bolton is now a master engine builder
Tommy Bolton is now a master engine builder
Tommy Bolton giving last minute instructions to Glen Nickleberry on his Tombo Racing Funny Bike.
Tommy Bolton giving last minute instructions to Glen Nickleberry on his Tombo Racing Funny Bike.

RideOK host Tommy Bolton interviews Jeff Williams, founder and host of the annual Oklahoma City Motorcycle Show and the famed Jeff Williams Motorcycle Swap Meet. Jeff and his family have been holding motorcycle swap meets in Oklahoma since 1983 and this is the 17th annual Oklahoma City Motorcycle Show. This year saw much larger crowds on Saturday than in past years. The beautiful spring-like weather was partly responsible, as well as the improving economy. In addition to motorcycle, Jeff has also brought in some really nice muscle cars for fans to look at. You can see these custom high performance cars, as well as some really nice vintage and custom motorcycles, browse vendor tables, meet with builders, and stop by to see old friends.

The show runs 10-6 on Sunday and covers two buildings. Stop on by and say hi.

I have heard of twin engine airplanes, but you don’t often run across a twin engine motorcycle. Yet that is just what we saw today at the Jeff Williams OKC Motorcycle Show. RideOK host Tommy Bolton talked to Sam Wills about his inspiration for building this twin engine Kawasaki for a client.

“A gentleman name Randy Waters came to us and said he had seen a bike built back in the seventies, a double, and wanted one like it” explains Wills. The design is based on the double engine dragsters of the 60’s and 70’s. The bike looks like a drag bike but is built for the street with lots of custom machining and fabrication.


Ride Oklahoma attended the Martin Luther King Jr. parade in downtown Oklahoma City this past week and marveled at the large turnout of African-American motorcycle riders there. Riders were on everything from tricked out sport bikes to chromed up Harley Davidson bikes to luxurious Gold Wings. Our friend Tommy Bolton interviewed several of the riders and his bikes were well represented in the parade. The Buffalo Soldiers looked pretty cool in their civil war style wardrobe and the OKC Sheriff’s Department motorcycle division put on a good display of motorcycling skill and precision. The entire crowd was very friendly and a great time was had by all, regardless of their skin color.

This is part 2 of Tomo Racing’s Suzuki GSXR-1300 Hayabusa motor rebuild. In this video, master engine builder and multi-time national champion drag racer and crew chief Tommy Bolton shows us how he preps a motor for his “Tombo Touch” rebuild. You can see his attention to detail as he preps the pistons, gaps the rings, and has the camshafts prepared to his demanding specifications. He also explains the head porting, polishing and flow benching process. In a later video he will show how the pistons and cylinder block is installed, the valves installed and timed, and the motor completed and test run.