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About Miatatom

  • Birthday May 31

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    Tom Shirley Sr.

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About Me

I've been a motorhead ever since my Uncle Roy Holman took me to South Carolina to visit my Aunt Frances (his sister) and Uncle Hubert Dover. On Saturday night, we went to the Greenville-Pickens Speedway to watch the stock cars and I was hooked. I was about 11 years old and had never been to any kind of race. It's in my blood and always will be. Soon after, I started building model cars and continued until I joined the Navy in 1962. I followed in the footsteps of my brother Fred and became a Radarman. I attended radar school in San Francisco. I was there when they closed down Alcatraz in 1963 and remember the newspaper coverage and seeing the barges with the prisoners in them being transported to a secure pier. After that, I served aboard the USS Norfolk DL-1 as a Radarman and was the Captains driver as well. Most of our cruises were in the Caribbean and included three cruises all the way around South America. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. 8^)). I left the service in 1966 with a honorable discharge.


In 1967 I started college at the Chattanooga State Technical Institute. My major was Nuclear Science Technology. I graduated with an Associates Degree and moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee where I worked at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Facility, then U. S. Nuclear where we fabricated nuclear fuel assemblies for test and research reactors and finally at the Oak Ridge Associated Universities medical research facility. While living in Oak Ridge, I got into riding dirt bikes. The mountains were calling. I raced motocross, hare scrambles, enduros and some observed trials. The last stop in my career was with the Tennessee Valley Authority at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in 1982, where I worked as a Senior Technician and finally as an instructor for the Radiation Protection group. I retired in 2006. As age took it's toll, I decided to give up the motorcycles and started racing go karts. I thought that would be safer. Well, I broke my back in a crash in 1989 so I guess I was wrong. I credit most of my aches and pains to that. My back is a mess.


In 1990, I joined the Sports Car Club of America and raced autocross and time trials. In 1993, I got into road racing with a 1967 Zink C4 Formula Vee with Historic Sportscar Racing and finally a 1960 Austin Healey Sprite with the Vintage Drivers Club of America. My last race was in 2003 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama in the Sprite. I really miss it but it was either race or retire from work. I'd raced, so it was time to retire.




A couple of years later, I found a model of the ship I served on in the Navy. I bought it and started building it. Still haven't finished it but hope to soon real soon. It's 1/700 scale. The real ship was 541 feet long. The model is 9" long. That led to me to buying a couple of model cars, then a couple more....well, you know how a stash is built. My main interests in modeling are open wheel cars and sports cars with an occasional hot rod for a change of pace.

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