Peck’s Racing Roots Here
Even though his motorsports career demanded a certain presence in the limelight, McConnellsburg native Tom Peck has never been one to seek out or even enjoy the notoriety and fame that came hand-in-hand with racing on dirt tracks and even bigger venues like Daytona.
Having an extensive fan base in Fulton County and beyond, Peck’s achievements that span more than 20 years will be recognized next month during a special, firstever induction ceremony of the Fulton County All-Sports Hall of Fame. Joining Peck as initial members of the Hall of Fame will be Major Leaguer the late Clyde Barnhart; Ironman athlete the late John Gracey; Paralympics medalist Rosalie (Hixson) Wiherin; track star Bobby Snyder II; and minor league baseball player Carl Paylor.
Not necessarily looking forward to taking center stage at the event on Saturday, April 4, Peck is undoubtedly excited at the prospect of reuniting with Paylor, whom he looked up to and idolized as a youth. Peck said he had the opportunity to work for Paylor during the summer months of his teenage years and considers it quite an honor to be inducted alongside such a local hero.
Peck, the son of Carl and June Peck, got his first taste of racing at the age of 18 when he took to the track for his very first event at Port Royal Speedway in 1971. His natural ability to not only race against but beat the best in the industry would eventually take him on to bigger and better places.
Peck noted his father owned a race car “back in the jalopy days” when tracks in Hustontown on Davis Lane and in the St. Thomas area were still heavily used and visited by racing enthusiasts. Even though the family paid for someone to drive their car, that familiarity with racing was what prompted Peck to try the racing industry himself.
“I didn’t do it half. I was pretty intense,” Peck, 60, told the “News. “I always wanted to see who the best was out there, even on the dirt tracks, and to do what was necessary to win.”
That level of intensity was likely what led Peck to amass 250 victories and 13 track titles on local dirt tracks and an additional seven years in NASCAR racing in the Busch Grand National Circuit. By his side during that time was the extended Peck family as well as the community.
“It kept our family together,” Peck said of his career that involved his parents and siblings. “Racing was a family accomplishment that wasn’t just about me. We could have been doing other stuff and going our separate ways. It was a bond that kept us all looking in the same direction.”
Likely the first person from Mc- Connellsburg, Fulton County, to get substantial television air time, Peck pointed out racing doesn’t end when the television cameras turn off Sunday.
“It’s a weeklong job. It’s a glorified, shiny job,” said Peck, who isn’t one to quote statistics but is quick to share a heart-warming tale about the people he met and was able to influence along the way. Peck recalled one such young married man with children who was hoping to secure his first job in the industry with the Peck racing family. Pulling out a handful of cash from his own pocket, Peck helped the family relocate to the home of his racing business in Mooresville, N.C., and secured what would be the man’s first position in what has been a fulfilling career in motorsports.
“That’s more of a highlight than the numbers,” said Peck, adding that in every race car driver’s career the losses always outnumber the wins. However, one of the most memorable events in his career was taking the track at Daytona after having logged so many years and races on dirt tracks.
Just as important as his family’s home on the race track was the birth of his sons, Joshua and Logan, and seeing them grow up with the guidance of their grandparents back at his real home in Fulton County.
“McConnellsburg has always been my home even though I raced everywhere else and lived in North Carolina for a while,” Peck stated. Up until that point, besides his family, he said there was never anything as important as racing or working on his cars. “My focus changed from racing to raising kids, and I had to decide.”
In 1996, Peck, his wife, Joyce, and their sons packed up and returned to their roots. “I gave it up. I was old enough, and things weren’t where they needed to be. I’m proud of it, and I don’t regret it,” he said. “When I decided I was done, I was done. There were no maybes or looking back.”
Peck continues to adhere to that “no looking back” policy to this day, looking ahead to what next week or even next month holds. Difficult to put into words why he refrains from more frequent visits to NASCAR events or with fellow drivers, Peck does admit he doesn’t like to live his life in the past.
“I’m not a star. I was just a normal person,” he said.
The All-Sports Hall of Fame banquet honoring Peck and fellow area athletes will get under way at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, at the Alumni and Friends building on East Maple Street in McConnellsburg. The special event will include a specially catered meal as well as words from keynote speaker Todd Newton, a 2013 Emmy award-winning speaker. Over the years, Newton has hosted a variety of television game shows, such as Hollywood Showdown and Whammy! on the Game Show Network. He currently hosts The Price is Right Live! at Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas, a stage version of the famous television game show.
Individuals wishing to attend the first Fulton County All-Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring Peck and other local, outstanding athletes can purchase tickets through March 24. Tickets are $20 and are being sold at all three county high school offices as well as at the Robert Snyder Agency, Eader’s Butcher Shop and the McConnellsburg main branches of F&M Trust and Susquehanna Bank.