Tom Morris - Biography

By the 1970’s Tom had gone from a go kart and mini bikes to off road motorcycle riding in the desert and mountains of Southern California. This led to 125 and 250 motocross racing that amassed numerous wins and promotion to the 250 expert rider ranks. Tom’s technical expertise on chassis and engines served him well as a test rider and consultant for Dirt Bike Magazine and later Dirt Rider Magazine. By the end of the 70’s Tom had built several off road trucks and raced his first SCORE (Southern California Off Road Enthusiast) Baja 1000 in 1979 placing 3rd. This led to a 1980 Baja 500 win & Baja 1000 2nd, 1981 San Felipe 250 win, 1981 & 1982 Baja 1000 wins along with numerous podiums that earned a 1982 Score Drivers Championship. By the midway of this race program GMC Truck Group stepped up with factory support.

In 1983 Tom joined with PPI (Precision Preparation Inc.) as Program Manager and Development Engineer to run a new Toyota factory backed off road race program for short course and desert racing. This eighteen year relationship with PPI and Toyota would become one of the most successful racing programs in off road history. The team amassed (11) MTEG (Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group) Manufacturers Championships, (9) MTEG Drivers Championships with drivers Ivan Stewart, Steve Millen, Rod Millen and Robby Gordon winning (50) victories during MTEG’s twelve years. PPI and Toyota paralleled the MTEG Stadium racing program with a desert racing program. This Desert and Baja race program with Ivan “Ironman” Stewart driving went onto (33) Desert wins that included multiple Mint 400, Nevada 500, Baja 500 and Baja 1000 victories. These wins along with numerous podium finishes collected several SCORE Overall Championships, SCORE Off Road World Championships, SCORE Unlimited Class Championships, a SCORE Trophy Truck Championship and a SCORE Off Road Overall Championship. During this program Tom also raced at several events as a Toyota Factory driver, as well as being a test driver and driver coach. This program served 15 years for BFGoodrich and three years for Yokohama as their key off road tire development team. At PPI Tom also worked on the management, design and build of several off road and race vehicles for GM Truck Group, Ford and Chevrolet factory programs, all of which went onto win many races.

While continuing on with the Desert Race Program, in 1996 Toyota joined with PPI to field two CART Indy Car Teams along with a Test/Development Team. This also led to PPI running two Toyota Atlantic Teams that Tom served as Overview Manager on, where the teams went onto win many races and a Toyota Atlantic Driver Championship.

Tom also managed and engineered PPI Specialties, which built eight special purpose Toyota trucks for the Indy Car Safety Teams in the USA and Japan, along with a Toyota truck outfitted with J35 jet turbine mounted in the bed as a “track blower” for the races.

During his personal time Tom still rode dirt bikes in the desert and Sea-Doo’s in the water where he developed his own castings for Sea-Doo cylinders and heads. These were used by several IJSBA (International Jet Ski Boating Association) race teams that repeatedly beat out the big factory race teams. Due to the watercraft manufacturer’s complaints, IJSBA soon banned the aftermarket cylinders.

2001 started a ten year relationship with Tom as Operations Manager and Engineering Manager at Wide Open Baja where thousands of everyday people were instructed and trained to drive and survive the Baja on multi-day Adventure Trips. Tom helped grow the company by improving the training curriculum along with improving the BC (Baja Car) vehicle platform in all aspects of driving, performance, reliability, simplified component parts in manufacture and commonality to minimize spare parts requirements. The company grew from (10) cars to over (45). This has led the company to an unprecedented 100 percent finish ratio in the SCORE Baja 1000 six times with up to eighteen identical BC vehicles in their own class in any given year, driven by a wide variety of “want to be” racing adventurer’s through the tough and grueling Baja Peninsula. Wide Open was involved with many aspects of the off road racing community and in 2006 Tom managed and engineered a CORR (Championship Off Road Racing) "Pro 2" race team with Monster Energy drink sponsorship that won many races, leading the Points Championship all year and just missed the winning it in the last race weekend with an engine failure. The team bounced back in 2007 with Monster Energy and won more races and the CORR "Pro 2" Drivers Championship. 2008 followed with Tom managing and engineering a SCORE Trophy Truck team with Larry Roeseler and Roger Norman that won the SCORE Primm 300 and SCORE Baja 1000 overall that year.

Professor William “Red” Whittaker at Carnegie Mellon University asked Tom to speak there at a seminar for his robotics department as an expert in off road and the teamwork needed to succeed to win the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Grand Challenge.

Tom has the unique ability to work from the ground up on management, sponsor relationships, engineering design and development for a wide variety of vehicles and programs along with being sensitive to the confidentiality needed when working on proprietary projects with multiple customers at the same time. He has been in the leading edge tire development programs with Yokohama and BFGoodrich, where BFGoodrich has gone onto dominate off road racing. Tom is also well versed in all aspects of every component and system involved with today’s complex race vehicles. To include: engines, EFI systems, transmissions, wheels, drivelines, differentials, steering, hydraulics, brakes, suspension, shock absorbers, fuel systems, electrical, as well as the fabrication, machining, outside processes, and the related vendor relationships associated to manufacture and develop and succeed with these systems.