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Published on 09/27/2018

Hollywood Story: Tomy Drissi Stars on Road Courses Across the Country

WORDS:

DAN HODGDON

PHOTOS:

CHRIS CLARK, SETH DeDOES

As a teenager in Los Angeles, places like the Hollywood Hills, Laurel Canyon and Mulholland Drive were Tomy Drissi’s playgrounds.

 

TAGS:
racing, vehicles, road_racing
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TAGS:
Published on 09/27/2018
racing, vehicles, road_racing
WORDS:

DAN HODGDON

PHOTOS:

CHRIS CLARK, SETH DeDOES

Hollywood Story: Tomy Drissi Stars on Road Courses Across the Country

As a teenager in Los Angeles, places like the Hollywood Hills, Laurel Canyon and Mulholland Drive were Tomy Drissi’s playgrounds.

 

He speaks fondly of those days, when he drove his first car -- a ’69 Camaro -- through the iconic landmarks of Southern California, the place of dreams.

Today, Drissi works at a dream factory, serving as a successful advertising executive in the film industry. His company, Drissi Advertising, creates campaigns for some of the biggest blockbusters in Hollywood each year. However, his love of driving remains, as he is also one of America’s most renowned road racers.

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He thinks his affection for turning left and right is a direct result of the landscape he saw growing up driving in his hometown of Hollywood.

“I liked the curves and the straights and the turns and the elevation changes,” he says. “I just love, love road racing.”

He’s been good at it, too. To his credit are multiple race wins at some of the most prestigious road courses around the country. They have come in series ranging from Trans Am to IMSA to the Pirelli World Challenge. He’s also made several starts in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series, earning a reputation as one of the “road course ringers.” Always curious, he’d like to sample an oval in that discipline someday as well.

“I just love, love road racing.”

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Trans Am though seems to be his bread and butter. He was the 2009 champion of the series and also claimed the 2018 Trans Am West Coast title. This year he partnered with Burtin Racing to drive the team’s No. 8 Camaro in the sanctioning body’s West Coast series events along with several on the national tour.

Drissi explains that the 850+ horsepower cars in Trans Am’s headlining TA class don’t have traction control, ABS brakes or paddle shifters, putting much of the success in the hands of the driver. As a result, Drissi believes the type of car he pilots is unmatched regarding its driving characteristics and ability to battle.

“It’s built for racing, it’s built for fighting, it’s built to go fast,” he says.

"It’s built for racing, it’s built for fighting, it’s built to go fast."

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His LS7-powered Camaro from Burtin Racing not only makes tons of power though, it looks good doing it.

“I’ve tried quite a few bodies, and driven for a few different manufacturers, and this Camaro is just amazing,” he says. “It looks awesome. The fans just go crazy for it.”

Drissi is also a fan himself, having collected several Camaros over the years.

Among his prized possessions is his one-of-a-kind 1970 factory Chaparral Camaro. It was built by Jim Hall at Chaparral Cars and raced by Hall, Vic Elford and Joe Leonard in the 1970 season, one of the original heyday years of Trans Am. In fact, earlier this season Drissi’s race car was painted to match the famous white-and-blue livery of that No. 1 Chaparral. The team campaigned three cars that year and Drissi’s is the only to survive.

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The car won at Watkins Glen in 1970, and fittingly, in September Drissi claimed a victory at the historic track in Upstate New York himself.

Also in his Camaro collection are a ’69 RS/Z28, a ’69 Z11 Indy Pace Car and an ultra-rare 1977 Concept Camaro built by legendary automobile designer Bill Mitchell.

“I obviously love Camaros,” Drissi says.

Not content to keep the cars as showpieces, Drissi often competes in vintage racing with his Chaparral Camaro and drives his RS/Z28 around Hollywood, showing it off to the local car scene on Friday nights.

seIn many ways, Drissi is carrying on the tradition of successful figures in the film industry taking to the track. Over the years, numerous movie stars have become race car drivers -- many in road racing. In addition, dozens of films have centered around racing stories. Drissi thinks the reason for the industry’s fascination with cars and racing stems from the popularity of the automobile worldwide, and especially the relationship between cars and his beloved Southern California.

“L.A. is just a car-crazy culture, the way we’re built out here,” Drissi says. “There’s not a lot of mass transit over here and there’s reason for it. We’ve got great highways, great weather and we’ve got great canyons, the Pacific Coast Highway, Mulholland Drive, the mountain ranges, Angeles Crest. We’re a driving community and Hollywood has always had a love for the car -- especially race cars.”

"We’re a driving community and Hollywood has always had a love for the car - especially race cars."

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Drissi’s enthusiasm for cars and his devotion to racing are obvious. They run deep indeed, but he sums up this part of his life succinctly.

“Cars are just beautiful,” he says “And race cars are even more beautiful.”

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