|Popular Southern Nevada businessman Tommy Ford, who was president of SNORE in the early 1980s, moved to northeast Texas after beating cancer four years ago.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of features on some of SNORE’s old timers.
Today: Tommy Ford
Four years ago, former Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts president and avid off-road racer Tommy Ford discovered he had cancer. Knowing he was in for the fight of his life, he scheduled an appointment at MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, Tex.
Now 68, Ford has been cured of the “Big C” and he’s living the dream in Whitesboro, Tex., a tiny community of about 3,000 residents near Highway 82 about an hour north of Dallas.
“I’m all well now,” said Ford, whose home sits on 67 acres along the Oklahoma border in northeast Texas. “After my treatments, we decided to buy some land down here and retire.”
Fate has a funny way of leading people from one place to another.
“I never went back to Vegas,” recalled Ford, a native of Corona, Calif., who had lived in Las Vegas since 1955. “We were able to take our motor home when I went to MD Anderson and we were there for three months. I figured out that we had made 19 trips to Houston and just decided that it made better sense to take the motor home.”
A very successful businessman who has owned Ford Contracting in Las Vegas since 1977, the economy in Southern Nevada had just begun its decline when the likeable Ford discovered he needed to visit MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Relaxed and contented to be living east of Gainesville, Tex., near the Red River, Ford has many reasons for staying in the Panhandle state. He’s comfortable on his ranch, where he and his wife, Judy, have eight cows, 35 horses, two Jack Russell Terriers and 11 acres of lawn.
Former Las Vegas resident Tommy Ford, left, with Joe Francis of the Holiday Inn and Casino prior to the SNORE 250 in the 1980s.
“Judy calls me Forest Gump,” Ford laughed while sitting on the front porch of his Texas home. “There is at least 35 acres that are lawn and we mow that every week.”
However, while he loves the country in Whitesboro, Ford also likes the hospitality of the people.
“I like Texas, and I like the people down here,” Ford said. “I mean everyone from the Fed Ex delivery guy to the postman wants to tell you about their family. People here are just very sincere, and very friendly.”
In addition, the folks in Texas are dedicated to sporting events of all kinds.
“People down here take their athletics very seriously,” Ford said. “We went to a Friday night high school football game in what was called the ‘Battle of the Boroughs’ and there were 12,600 people in the stands.”
While it’s been a long time since he walked away from his last off-road race in the late-1970s or early 1980s, SNORE remain as some of Ford’s best memories of living in Southern Nevada.
“I loved off-road racing,” said Ford, who served as president of SNORE in the mid-1980s. “It was great therapy and besides, all of the kids who worked at Ford Contracting either hunted or raced; and I did both.
“James Mahan got me into the sport and I bought a car that was a homemade Class 2. Then, I bought one of those Racecos and finished 25 points behind Brian Collins in the overall SCORE points standings."
SNORE’s friendly people attracted Ford to the club; and so did the old Mint 400, a huge event that started with tech inspection on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas each spring before more than 400 off-road vehicles found their way to the start-finish line at the old Las Vegas Speedway.
“The Mint 400 was fun,” recalled Ford. “There were people all over the place and women used to lift up their tops as cars went by.
“One time, two gals pulled up their shirts as I was going down the course. I took my eyes off the course to look at them and just about ended up on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.”