Tom Alley was born in Metamora, Indiana. After moving to Burlington in Vermont, he went to work as a repairman in Chicago for the Locomobile Company where he met Ralph de Palma.
In 1912 de Palma found himself without a riding mechanic and took Tom on. With de Palma driving, they took two wins at Elgin in August and another at Milwaukee. They won the Vanderbilt Cup but were both injured in the American Grand Prix when DePalma crashed the Mercedes on the back stretch on lap 51.
Tom loved racing and in 1913 he drove relief for George Clark in the Indy 500.
In the summer of 1914 Fred Duesenberg gave him a works drive and he repaid him with a 4th at Sioux City in July having led for ten laps. He next raced in the beach races at Galveston, taking a second, a third and another second. After a couple of retirements he finished third in Galesburg in October and followed that with his first win, taking victory in the 100 mile race on the dirt oval at Hamline Speedway, St. Paul, Minnesota, later in the month.
In 1915 he picked up where he left off with a third on the road course in San Diego. He had a number of podium and other top five finished during the year. At the Vanderbilt Cup he led of the start and held the lead for the first 20 laps. Unfortunately he dropped backa nd eventually retired on lap 41. In his first full drive at Indy he finished 8th.
He didn't race much in 1916. He did race at Indy finishing 11th.
He switched his alegance from Duesenberg at the end of the year and for 1917 raced a Miller powered Pan-American. Racing almost exclusively on the board oval in Chicago he took a win and 4 other top five finishes. He crashed at the end of the year and sat out 1918.
From then on he only raced sporadically. His three races in 1919 saw him finish 5th at Indy and in 1920 he only raced once, though he drove relief at Indy for Henderson.
In 1921 he drove a Frontenac with a 4th at Uniontown his best result from his five races.
The next year he only raced at Indy finishing 9th. He drove relief the following year for E. Cooper and fained to qualify in 1924 and 1925.
With that Tom hung up his helmet and retired going back to running a garage doing repair work.