Drivers find ho-hum Humm hard to beat


April 18, 1993|By STAN DILLON

Tom Humm is a very low-key person -- so low key that hardly anyone notices he is around. His car isn't fancy -- no bright paint job, no large air scoops. Just a plain street car.

But Humm's competitors at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia notice him. They try to keep away from him in the elimination runs, because he is one of the most difficult drivers to beat.

Humm races in Class II at 75-80. He races to win and he doesn't spend a lot of money to do it.

Although he finished fourth in points last year, he led all drivers in wins with four. He did all of this in a stock 1968 Ford Falcon four-door sedan that creeps down the quarter-mile in 16 seconds flat.

Humm is one of the truly interesting drivers at 75-80. He keeps a low profile at the track, but he is always studying the competition. He is an easy-going young man, but has an intense desire to win. His car seems to get lost among all the expensive exotic cars.

"I was wondering when they were going to write about me. I have been winning and no story," Humm remarked. "I was beginning to think that they didn't want to write a story on me because of how my car looks."

Humm started racing in 1980. He raced regularly for eight years. He was the overall track champion in 1984, finished second in points in 1985 and again the following year. That year he was first in points until the final night.

From 1988 through 1991, the Mount Airy resident took some time off from racing to start a family and build a house. But the desire for racing was always there.

Last year he returned to the sport he loves and performed as if he hadnever missed a race. He was first in points by mid-August, but ended up fourth in a very tough point battle. Still, he led all drivers in wins, quite an accomplishment for a driver who missed four years.

Last Sunday at 75-80, Humm did it again. In the first time out this year, the 32-year-old went out and whipped the competition, proving that he didn't lose anything over the off-season.

"Every time I win, just like Sunday, it feels like the first win," said Humm. "I get so excited. I enjoy each win as if it was the first one."

Humm attributes all of his success to Norman and Charlie Spealman. In his spare time, Humm helps Charlie in his machine shop.

"I owe everything to Charles and Norman. Everything I know I have to give them credit for. They taught me all the tricks," said Humm. "They taught me all the little things to look for, the little things that other drivers are doing. They taught me how to race on a really low budget, to take any car and win with it. Thanks to them, I have learned to win with whatever I have."

Mike Garber, the car's mechanic, is another one who plays a major part in Humm's success.

"Mike is my genius. He'll take anything and make it race. I don't do anything on my car," said Humm. "I

not a mechanic. Garber does all my work. I just like to race. I really appreciate everything he does for me."

Someone who is not familiar with drag racing may wonder how a slow car like Humm's can win against faster cars.

In bracket racing, everyone dials in a time that they believe their ,, car will do the quarter-mile in. The slower cars leave the line first and the faster cars are handicapped to leave later.

Because Humm's Falcon runs the quarter-mile in 16 seconds, he normally leaves the line before the other cars.

"I always want to be the guy that leaves first," said Humm. "I want to be the guy the other driver is chasing. I like running 12-second cars. It means I have a 100-foot start. When they leave the lane I am two to three seconds ahead of them.

"I want them to have to make the split-second judgments whether to pass me or not at the end. I want to make them do the thinking."

Humm is happy racing in Class II. That is good news for guys in Class I.

"I have no desire to race in any other class. I want to drive to the track in my car, race it and drive it home. If I keep my budget low and I win, I am way ahead of the game," he said.

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