By Mike Henle
Four years ago, former SNORE 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.
“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.”
|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.|
|Off-road racer Tommy Ford, left, with Holiday Inn Casino General Manager Joe Francis prior to the annual SNORE 250 in the mid-1980s.|
SNORE opens the 2013 season with the Battle at Primm Feb. 22-24 south of Las Vegas.
Four key officers with the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts have committed to lead the club again in 2013. From left, Vice President John Pellissier; President Brittany Burgos; Treasurer Debbie Burgos; and Race Director Kenny Freeman.
|Burbank, Calif., Class 10 driver Roger Starkey, shown with SNORE’s Tiffiany Cox, was declared the 2012 Kartek overall champion Saturday, Jan. 5 at Harrah’s in Laughlin.|
|The Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts combined to raise $4,300 for the Make a Wish Foundation during the annual Wish Ride in Laughlin in November. SNORE Vice President John Pellissier, left, and MJ Smith of The Laughlin Tourism Commission, center, are shown presenting the check to Caleen Johnson, executive director at the Make A Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada at the annual SNORE year end banquet Jan. 5 at Harrah’s in Laughlin.|
|Roger Starkey, of Burbank, Calif., raced to the overall SNORE title in 2012.|
|Hard-driving Josh Daniel dominated the annual SNORE HOSTYLE Rage at the River in Laughlin, Nev. Dec. 7-9. He won the Class 1 and overall titles in an event that drew about 170 entries to the city about 100 miles south of Las Vegas. (Dave Conklin/Trackside photo).|
|The McMillin family of San Diego, Calif., was well-represented during SNORE’s Rage at the River in Laughlin, Nev. Dec. 7-9. Dan McMillin won the Unlimited Truck class and finished third overall. (Dave Conklin/Trackside photo).|
|Long-time Las Vegas radio personality Craig Williams will be back in the driver’s seat during SNORE’s HOSTYLE Rage at the River|
|The Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts (SNORE) returns to Laughlin, Nev., its home-away-from home Dec. 7-9 for the annual HOSTYLE Presents Rage on the River. SNORE combined with Laughlin leaders and other sponsors to present the Wish Ride for youngsters battling cancer Nov. 3.|
|M.J. Smith of the Laughlin Tourism Commission welcomes the throng prior to the Nov. 3 Wish Ride for youngsters battling cancer. The event was co-promoted several groups including the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts, which heads back to Laughlin Dec. 7-9 for the HOSTYLE Presents Rage at the River off road race.|
|TJ Flores is sky-high en route to the overall and Unlimited Truck victory Oct. 21 in the EXA 94.5 SNORE 250 in Primm, Nev. (Photo by Mike Stotts/Trackside)|
|Jason Coleman of Huntington Beach, Calif. outlasted Blaine Conrad to capture the 1600 class of the EXA 94.5 SNORE 250 in Primm, Nev. (Photo by Mike Stotts/Trackside).|
|There was no shortage of rollovers during the EXA 94.5 SNORE 250 in Primm, Nev.; and race sponsor Eric Palacios was just one of them (Mike Stotts/Trackside).|
CONTACTS: Mike Henle, The Idea Company Public Relations, 702-279-3483.
|Southern California Jason Coleman will be in Primm Oct. 19-21 for the annual SNORE 250 off road race.|