You will or have read volumes of written words about the life, times, and passing of Tom Medley. While you may lump what you see before you as "another" story I would like to think of it as a "conversation" between friends about the passing of a legend—an icon.
All who read this page have heard of the Street Rod Nationals, Stroker McGurk, or Rod & Custom (sister publication to Street Rodder). This doesn't even begin to tell the story of numerous covers, features, tech stories and even the seller of ads while at R&C.
He along with Street Rodder founder LeRoi Tex Smith gave us the first Street Rod Nationals. Tom was the creator of the Stroker McGurk character and the following cartoon that was featured in Petersen titles. It was Petersen Publishing founder Robert E. Petersen who once saw a cartoon of Tom's on the wall at Blair Speed Shop and Petersen brought him aboard the Hot Rod staff as a cartoonist in 1948; the third issue of HR. In the mid-‘60s he took over the publishers position at R&C and was at the advent of what many refer to as the "modern era of street rodding". Tom was also a lover of go-kart racing and participated throughout his life.
om Medley—a great hot rodder, an even greater rodding journalist, and a more impressive in
It was during the '60s and beyond that you could find Tom at any one of a number of rodding events in his '40 Ford coupe. On several occasions the likes of longtime friend Jack Chisenhall could be seen with Tom in his '40 coupe on a Street Rodder Road Tour leg. In Tom's closing years his nighttime vision left something to be desired and there were always rodders available who would drive Tom. Our own Ron Ceridono drove Tom and worked on the '40 on more than one occasion and has some great stories to tell. Tom's son Gary Medley could also be seen accompanying Dad to many of these events.
Back in October of 2011 there was a home garage fire in Burbank, California. In and of itself not uncommon or particularly noteworthy as no one was injured but there was the loss of an old car and countless boxes of records and memorabilia. Upon closer examination the homeowner was Tom Medley and the car ravaged by fire was his '40 Ford coupe—yes, an iconic hot rod.
At this time in his life Tom wasn't up for the challenge of rebuilding. Up steps Randy and his wife, affectionately known as Peaches, Clark and without expecting anything in return began the process of reclaiming what fire had so thoroughly destroyed. Making the build a priority Clark and his crew from Hot Rods & Custom Stuff brought the coupe back to its former glory, and then some. The car was presented to Tom at the Grand National Roadster Show several years ago. (Enough thanks can't be showered on Randy and Peaches for their dedication to this project.)
Tom penned a Stroker cartoon that served as a “thank you” to all who contributed to the fu
As mentioned earlier there's plenty to read about Tom's accomplishments and legacy but you will find it elsewhere. You should read as much as you can as Tom is an integral part of the very fabric that is at the core of street rodding. Earlier today Ceridono and I were sharing our best "Tom" stories. But the one that I retell time and time again is my first meeting with Tom. So here goes, one more time.
It was early in my magazine guy career and we were attending the one and only NSRA regional event held in Southern California. What was originally scheduled to be held at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa had to be moved at the last minute about 70 miles south to Del Mar (on the way into San Diego).
Tex and I arrived and he told me that we were going over to a nearby hotel to meet someone. Tex stood there and knocked and as the door opened, I could hear all sorts of hootin' and hollerin', there stood Tom Medley. He and Tex began talking as lifelong buddies do. Well, I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but I immediately recognized Tom and was in awe. After the obligatory fishing stories were exchanged I introduced myself. At that point Tex remembered I was in tow and introduced me as, "gofur". I would "Gofur" this and "Gofur" that. Tom asked if I liked basketball and I told him I did. As a matter of fact I enjoyed it a great deal and was a big UCLA fan. Well, he was huge basketball, especially college, fan and thoroughly enjoyed the style of play UCLA exhibited under their then legendary coach John Wooden. In fact on the television at that moment was a UCLA game and a room full of rodders were sitting, standing, and wedged into all available space to watch the game with Tom. And then there was one more.
Oh, he wasn’t without a sense of humor!
For the next several hours I enjoyed watching a basketball game and listening to Tom give running commentary. Not one word about hot rods, cars, or the rodding scene was shared but it was an incredibly rewarding time.
I would spend many more hours at all sorts of events over the next four-plus decades in Tom's presence and would enjoy every moment. He was about being a great individual first and the rest followed. He was a tremendous influence on many a budding car magazine guy but to his credit he was everyone's friend as he had no enemies: An accomplishment for anyone over the course of such a long and fruitful life.
At the time of Tom's death he was in the process of moving to Oregon to live fulltime with his son where the two would continue making and telling stories. That won't happen now and it is the rest of us who will be less for it but greater for having known such a wonderful man.
Circa 1960, Tom at work at the art table where he felt at home with his art. While serving
Left to right: Bud Bryan (former editor of R&C during Tom’s tenure as publisher), Tom,
This was the day that Randy Clark picked up Tom’s coupe to begin its “rebirth”. The car wa