30/1/1927 - 2/11/1992
Record updated 02-Nov-06
A verstatile racer, mainly in California, he died, after a long illness, at the family home in Fresno.
Tommy Copp was a naturally talented racer. He started racing in the San Francisco Bay Area in modified stock cars, but soon after, suffered a serious injury at Oakland Stadium. The accident occurred on the infield, not in a racecar. The resultant broken leg was so serious that it nearly had to be amputated.
Copp soon switched to midgets, racing Jim Clark's Ford V8-60 machine, beating cars and drivers he wasn't supposed. As a result he was soon getting offers of better drives.
Over the next few years, Copp won three BCRA Indoor championships and finished as high as second in the overall standings.
Copp drove a few sprint cars but primarily focused on the midgets. He had 25 victories and finished third in the national midget standings in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
He did drive in Champ cars but mostly in inferior machines, his best finishes were a couple of sevenths. Copp desperately wanted to race at Indy but only ever got one chance in 1962 when he failed to qualify. Tommy was definitely good enough and many of the drivers he beat on a regular basis in midgets went to Indy and did very well.
In 1965 he had a crash in a Champ car race at Atlanta Champ. The Gearhardt Offy he was driving burst into flames, and Copp, trapped in the inferno, suffered serious burns that left him with something less than a full nose.
He continued to drive midgets for several years, but the fire at Atlanta had left him in poor health and contributed to his death in the late 1990s.