Tim Lyons is well-known among SCCA racers in the Southeast for the roaring red-and-white Mustang he drives in GT1. He’s been a member of the SCCA for over 45 years, but he hasn’t always been a high-horsepower guy. Well, he has, but his cars haven’t. He started autocrossing in a ’64 TR4 while in the Army down in Ft. Hood, Texas. From there, he graduated to a ’69 Porsche 911T, and joined the SCCA in 1969. As a member of the Lone Star Region, he worked corners at tracks in Austin and Galveston and at a new track that had just opened up called Texas World Speedway. They hosted a Can-Am that Tim flagged, and perhaps that set the stage for everything to follow, because Tim raced big American iron seemingly ever since. Flagging in those days was very different than today; Tim recalls standing literally at the edge of the track while the Can-Am cars bore down on him going into the turn.
From Texas, Tim returned to his boyhood home in Wisconsin, where he hooked up with a buddy racing short-tracks while still working corners at tracks like Blackhawk Farms and Road America. Although money was tight while he was finishing college, he got a line on a bank-repossessed race car, a 1970 Boss 302, painted Grabber Orange (just like the famous one driven by Parnelli Jones). It even had a legal cage already in it. Anxious to get rid of the car, the bank let him have it for the princely sum of $1901 in 1972. In keeping with his tiny budget, he pulled additional parts off a friend’s wrecked Mustang and used other people’s cast offs to get the car in shape to race. In 1973, Tim went to driver’s school in it and ultimately won the regional A-Sedan championship in Central Division – similar to SEDIV’s SARRC. National racing beckoned, with a podium finish in the June Sprints in the mid-‘70s a high point. Tim clearly had found his niche—big bore race cars!
A job opportunity at work resulted in a transfer to Charlotte. As a member of CCR, he raced his Boss Mustang in the Southeast, winning with the SARRC GT-1 Championship in 1980. He also continued to flag and work other specialties at Charlotte Motor Speedway throughout the 1980s. Tim raced the Boss 302 until finally selling it in 1986. It changed hands a few times after that, but is now totally restored and running vintage races on the West Coast. Tim’s next car was a unique tube-framed, ex-TransAm Mustang that was the factory car in the 1981 season. Tom Gloy had won with it, but by the time Tim got it, it had a blown motor and need lots of TLC. It took him three years to get it running again. About that time, he moved a couple of times, first to Raleigh, then to Salisbury, and finally to Thomasville, where he currently lives. He began attending the old Region gatherings at Cooper’s Deli and changed his Region of Record to NCR. Tim updated the Mustang throughout the 1990s, racing in SARRC and a few Nationals. After a major punt at VIR that destroyed the bodywork, Tim put the original body back on it, restored it to its 1981 livery and sold it to a vintage racer in 2001.
He then began looking for a replacement and found a pair of Roush Mustangs for sale by a defunct TransAm team. Although he didn’t really have the money they were asking, he was able to negotiate a deal for one of the cars that was completely disassembled, although he says it put his marriage on rocky grounds for a while! It was literally a bare chassis and piles of parts. Putting it together was about a 6-month project that he likens to a 3-dimensional jig-saw puzzle. Later that year he was able to acquire the transmission, wing, and other bits and pieces. Tim raced that car until 2005, when he was offered a price he couldn’t refuse from a vintage guy who really wanted the car. There was money enough for his current ride, that Riley & Scott ex-TransAm car he drives today, as well as the enclosed trailer. This car had been a Tom Gloy team car, driven by the likes of Boris Said, Tom Gloy, Paul Newman, and Johnny O’Connell. So who knows? Maybe this one will follow all the others onto the vintage circuit. Tim has a knack for picking the right car. His success in SEDIV is well-known.
These days, when Tim isn’t racing, he’s part of the pace car team headed by Ed Wentz. Over the years, he’s worked F&C, registration, emergency services, T & S, and served as race chair, as well. That’s typical of Tim. He says he’s been very lucky with his “career” as a racer in the SCCA and he’s eager to help out the Club. So, if you get a chance to say “hi” in the paddock, do so. You’ll be glad you did.
At Road America in 1973 Charlotte in 1986
Roebling Road in 1986............ and in 1997
At VIR in 2014