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.
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.
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.
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.
Master engine builder Tommy Bolton provides us a video of a Suzuki GSXR-1300 Hayabusa motor rebuild. As a multi-time national champion drag racer and crew chief, Tommy knows how to build a fast motorcycle. In this multi-part video series Tommy shows us a few of his tricks and attention to detail as he tears down a 2008 Hayabusa motor and rebuilds it with his “Tombo Touch”.
Step one is the teardown where Tommy shows us the proper way to tear down and inspect the motor.
Tommy Bolton with Tombo Racing recently completed his latest creation, the Tombo Outlaw Bike. This bike started life as a Suzuki GS-1150 engine, but it only resembles that well designed powerplant on the outside. Inside the bike has been bored to 1600cc. Tommy installed special pistons, cams, crank and case, plus he spent time porting and polishing the head and working the valves. Next a custom Tombo Racing draw through turbocharger was installed, along with a Tombo Racing dual stage wet nitrous system. Add racing slicks, a stearing stabiler, a custom frame, and many other custom parts and you have this tire shredding, pavement wrinkling drag bike. A custom 2Brothers paint job makes this bike look just as good as it goes fast.
Although the bike has yet to run at the track, Tommy is expecting the bike to run in the high six second/low seven second range in the quarter mile at around 200 mph once everything is dialed in and tested. Tim Howard will be competing for Tombo Racing on this bike in the Outlaw class at local and select nationwide races.
Dragbike.com recently published an excellent story on Oklahoma’s own Tommy Bolton of Tombo Racing. The story tells of Tommy growing up on southern California, his rise to a multi-time national drag racing champion, and his transition to a bike builder and tuner. Tommy still makes some of the quickest motorcycles on the planet. He and Glen Nickleberry just completed a ground up rebuild of their 6.6 second funnybike and will be competing across the country in national events as well as locally at Thunder Valley Raceway.
Congratulations Tommy on being named Dragbike.com’s “Person of the Week”!