Cover photo for Tom Hoover's Obituary
Tom Hoover Profile Photo
1941 Tom 2022

Tom Hoover

May 20, 1941 — October 21, 2022

Tom ''Showtime'' Hoover, 81, the internationally recognized drag racer and local Minneapolis business owner attended his "last" major event when he passed peacefully from life, through death, to eternal life on October 21, 2022. Hoover began and ended his story in his favored state of Minnesota.

Hoover identified as a ''1941 model'' and a "car guy" due to his birthdate on May 20, 1941. He caught drag racing fever when he began challenging high school buddies to match races, behind the deserted roads of Osseo Senior High school where he graduated in 1959. Hoover soon graduated further to faster cars. Hoover; however, didn't drive ordinary cars. He started at the top, in the ranks of the professional Drag Racing world, and drove the fastest land speed vehicles in the world: ground-pounding, fire-breathing Top Fuel cars. These cars are powered by Nitromethane, which is seven times more explosive than gasoline and can be currently purchased at $44 a gallon! Hoover first mastered Top Fuel dragsters in 1964, and then took on the nearly uncontrollable "funny cars" which were thusly nicknamed, because of their large rear tires. Hoover liked these "beasts" because he found them more challenging to tame and because their factory-replicated bodies looked like real cars that were popular with fans. Success quickly followed and continued for 35 years of professional competition, within three sanctioning organizations: AHRA, IHRA and NHRA. For such a humble man, his accolades were numerous. He was the youngest driver to win a professional event at 24 years of age. He was the first Minnesota racer to cover the quarter mile at 200 m.p.h. The "only" driver to have won a place in the exclusive five and the four seconds clubs in top fuel funny car. He made it into the 4-second club with his fastest run down the quarter mile clocked at 4.96 seconds at 309 m.p.h. He won the AHRA World Championships three years straight in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and five NHRA event winning "Wally" awards. Hoover became an internal ambassador for the sport that took he and his family through the United States, and to races further away in Canada, Mexico, England, Australia, Sweden, and Norway. He won the World Championship in Australia in 1995. He was inducted into the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2014 and named a NHRA "Legend" of the Sport in 2016. He held multiple other wins in match races and lesser venues. One of the most unforeseen highlights of Hoover's legacy was the honor of a nine-month display of his artistically recreated 1966 "Fishbowl" dragster at the Wiseman Museum in Minneapolis. This iconic car which Hot Rod magazine called the most beautiful front-end dragster ever built was displayed as an "art sculpture." During Hoover's career as a Minnesota original, he enjoyed friendships with Sports Writers Charlie Hallman and John Gilbert. Both boosted Hoover's accomplishments by posting many interviews which featured Tom's colorful quotes and "wild" comments. Hoover's drag racing team would grow from volunteer mechanics to 10 seasoned traveling pros attending as many as 35 races each year. Hoover credited his parents for helping him stay competitive in a world-class sport. Tom brought his father, master mechanic George Hoover, into the sport by dragging him into the garage to fix the after-mass of his fireballs. His parents had previously raced their own drag racing team under the banner of "Ma and Pa Hoover" before teaming together in 1978. George Hoover was Tom's Crew Chief until 1990. George and his mother Ruth were inducted into the Hall of Fame before Tom. George Hoover also received a special "Wally" award aptly engraved "the Spirit of Drag Racing" in recognition of his irreplaceable role on the crew well into his 90's. Hoover's closest crew member was his wife of almost 50 years Betten Hoover, of whom he was rarely seen without. When Tom was not at the racetrack, he donned his "dickies" and managed the shop that he inherited from his Dad. Hoover Wheel Alignment has been in business at 207 Lowry Avenue N. in Minneapolis since 1965. In 2016, the shop was purchased by one of Tom's trusted employees and it continues to provide reliable service to the Twin Cities. Beyond a champion's legacy, and a good reputation,

Hoover leaves behind four children: Trent Hoover (deceased), Troy and wife Karen Hoover, Leighe "Paige" and husband Bill Steers, and Landon Hoover; as well as 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Special recognition is reserved for Diane Hoover Mastro, Trent and Troy's mother.

Special thanks to all the staff at St Joseph's Hospital where Hoover exclaimed that he had received "VIP" treatment.

Hoover had too many close friends, loyal customers' and faithful fans to list everyone separately, but he valued them all.

A memorial service with brunch following will be held on Friday, Oct. 28, at 10:30 a.m. at Tom's favorite: Elsie's: 729 Marshall Street, Minneapolis, MN 55413. A celebration of Showtime's life will continue Friday afternoon from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at Bogart's Entertainment Center at 14917 Garrett Avenue, Apple Valley, MN 55124. Cacklefest will conclude the event at 4:00 p.m. outside. Earplugs recommended! In lieu of flowers, please bring a good story about Showtime to the celebration.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Tom Hoover, please visit our flower store.


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