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Author Topic: Tom Sager Sr  (Read 2493 times)

dale

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Tom Sager Sr
« on: January 23, 2015, 12:09:39 pm »
Tom Sager Sr, Racing Bio
Tom Sager Sr was a long time WNY SCCA member, autocrosser, road racer and became patriarch of the racing family with sons Tom Jr, Tim and Randy, and grandson Dan. He was active as a driver from 1960 through 2007. His professional career had many changes, but mostly centered around the auto industry as a service rep, car dealer and sales rep for service equipment.

While he explored a variety of activities over his lifetime, he always returned to a compelling interest in sports car and racing.

In the early 50s, tween-aged Tom caught a glimpse of a new car, an MGTD on Fayette Avenue in Kenmore. He later described that as an inspiring event that sparked a sports car craze that stayed with him the rest of his life.

Before he was old enough to drive he was sharing copies of Road and Track and the British publication, Autocar with friends. His mother failed to stop him from boarding out of town buses to sports car races at airfields and fairs. In 1952 he attended Watkins Glen’s last, ill-fated streets Grand Prix, which prompted the construction of the dedicated road course.

Aside from the tragedy, Tom often spoke of the grandeur of that event... the thrill of seeing the renowned Cunningham C4’s piloted by John Fitch and Briggs Cunningham. Tom attended an event at the Glen every year thereafter until his death.

Back home his sister described the annoyance of her younger brother getting under the hood with her dates that showed up by car.
When Tom was 16, with money saved up from his paper route, stock boy and filling station jobs, he convinced his Mom to co-purchase a used MGTD. Evidently she didn’t see it much. Often, after midnight, he snuck out his bedroom window, down a drainpipe and quietly pushed the car down to the street where he could start it and speed away undetected.

In 1958, a time when a true sports car was one that could be driven both on the street and the track, with little alteration, Tom became a member of the team Ecurie Pip that was rivaled by the other Western New York group Ecurie Clod. At race events Ecurie members donned matching white crew coveralls equipped with their logos. “Pip” was inspired by British vernacular as they were all driving British cars. Two years later, Tom was engaged to Elizabeth Krotz, and he was selling Triumphs for a Rochester based Triumph dealer. “I was looking for a car and… ended up with a ’56 TR3”, Liz said... “He talked me into letting him put a roll bar into it.”  While Tom had purchased a new TR3, Liz said “He wasn’t going to race his brand new car!”  He raced that car at the Dunkirk airfield course, Harewood Acres, and the new road course at Watkins Glen where the entry list shows Roger Penske in the same group. The TR3 threw a rod at that event.
Later that year after their wedding, Tom and Liz moved to California to start a new life. Tom held a position with Chrysler as a factory rep serving a southwest territory.



1963 brought them back to Rochester, NY. In ‘64 they had their third son, completing the trio of Tom Jr, Tim and Randy.

During the 60s Tom’s career and interests changed a lot. He owned a series of Corvettes that he enjoyed terrorizing rural roads with, and he occasionally entered an autocross with cars as disparate as a big block Corvette and a baby blue Austin Mini. As an aviation enthusiast he also logged 64 flights in a 26 month period in single engine Cessnas and Pipers

In 1972 Tom returned to competition with a Fiat 850 Spider, running a full season of autocross. During that campaign, Tom had a serious battle with a young Randy Zimmer. Randy’s Austin Mini was out of repair during an event at Lancaster Speedway, so Tom offered the Fiat to Randy. “That probably sent me down the path of asking other people to let me drive their cars, said Randy. “It was a breakthrough”. Randy bested Tom that day, but Tom still managed to win the E- stock class Championship in the WNY Autocross Trail, and received the Driver of the Year award.
At the time events were also held at parking lots such as the Twin Fair in Tonawanda, and frequently at the East Concord go kart track.
 
In ‘74 Tom co-owned South Towns AMC and campaigned a 6-cylinder Gremlin, clinching the D- stock championship.

By 1976 SCCA’s Showroom Stock had become an established race category. The idea of low cost and low maintenance race cars was particularly appealing. The following few years saw Tom running a series of Ford Pintos in SSC and a Capri in SSB. Tom and several other WNY drivers formed the loose knit group of road racers, the Buffalo Bunch.


During this time he made his most serious commitment to road racing.
In ‘76, his first year of Showroom Stock competition Tom won the NYSSRC championship. From 1977-1980 he won several SCCA National races in Showroom Stock C. He held the lap record for the class in 1978 at Watkins Glen and in 1980 at Nelson Ledges. He also instructed at several SCCA driver schools.

Throughout this time Tom’s race cars, like the TR3 in ‘60 was often driven to and from the track. The whole family served as crew. A modicum of spares usually consisted of one or two tires, a fan belt and possibly a set of brake pads. All his tools were toted in a single tray box. At the time Showroom Stock offered potential to be competitive with little prep. He was focused on driving.

Tom stopped racing in the early 80s, but continued driving and instructing at track days. In 2006 he got back in the seat running vintage road race events in a Fiat 124 Spider. He drove his last event, at Watkins Glen, in 2007.

In July this past year Tom, with family members of the Buffalo Bunch watched sons Tom Jr. and Tim compete at an SCCA race at the Glen, where they collected a win and podium finishes in Spec Miata.
During this 60 year obsession with automobiles, Tom and Liz met a lifetime of friends and had experiences that perhaps only the sports car clubs could offer.
Tom Sager Sr. passed away January 1st, 2015.

brucejones

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Re: Tom Sager Sr
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2015, 01:50:14 pm »
I am very sorry to learn of the passing of your father Tim.  The Sager family has been a large part of the fabric of SCCA for more years than I knew and the whole time that I have been participating.  Your bio is a most fitting tribute to your father.  My best to your family!
\Bruce Jones

 


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