Beginning his racing career in the late 1940’s at Soldiers Field, which is now home to the NFL team, the Chicago Bears, Tom “Tiger” Pistone, a perennial point chaser, was always a top contender for the title at the fabled track.
Pistone’s first victory in a NASCAR sanctioned race came on June 30, 1956, just one year after entering into the NASCAR world. An enormous crowd of 38,000 screaming fans watched him drive his ‘56 Chevy ragtop to victory in a 100 mile convertible contest at Soldiers Field. 1959 marked Pistone’s first full season on NASCAR’s Grand National (now Sprint Cup) tour and it remains one of the most outstanding records ever compiled by a driver during his freshman year in major league stock car racing. Driving a Ford Thunderbird, the little dynamo scored two victories and logged a dozen top five finishes on his way to a sixth place finish in the point standings.
In 1960, he wore a life preserver and an oxygen tube in his car while racing at Daytona. He did this for fear of running into the lake in the speedway, something that actually happened to driver Tommy Irwin in the first qualifying race. His 130th and final NASCAR race came in 1968. In 11 years of competing in the NASCAR Grand National Division as a driver, Pistone recorded 130 starts, 5 poles, 2 wins, 29 top-5s, and 53 top-10s.
Pistone’s ability as a driver is equaled only by his expertise in the field of designing and building race cars. In 1987, Pistone took time off from his race car building and parts business long enough to compete in a race for retired drivers, held at Hickory Motor Speedway. Showing the same skill and determination he exhibited at Soldiers Field in the 1950’s, Pistone found himself in a very familiar place once again…victory lane.
Still active in racing at age 81, Pistone has a thriving race car parts business in Charlotte, NC, and can often be found mentoring young drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway.