April Smith



Bulls, Mods, and Tractors….. The Evolution of Tommy McKinley

 By The Wordsmith


Tommy McKinley, a hard-working, “stand-on-the-pedal” kind of man, was a cowboy before he ever got into racing.  He started his life of thrill seeking in high school when his buddies rode in a rodeo team event.  Since Tommy had been riding horses since he was two or three years old, he found it easy to join the Seagoville Rodeo Team.   

There are many people who don’t know what it’s like being a rodeo guy.  Tommy’s secret of bull riding is that you cannot have any fear.  Someone must “have respect for the animal but you can’t be scared of it.  If you’re scared of them you have no business on them.” 

It must have been a nice lifestyle making $100,000 a year on average in profits while doing something he loved and knew deep in his soul.  But the time came that he had to quit riding bulls and horses –  because of debilitating shoulder injuries. Also because of the effects 9/11 had on rodeos.  The sport had "from 1800 – 2200 teams and shrunk down to only 450" after that crippling day in history. 


Of the excitement of bull riding, Tommy says, “a 150 pound man trying to wrestle a 2000 pound bull” can be “a handful, so to speak.” Bull riding is, not surprisingly, somewhat similar to racing because of the “thrill and excitement of it.”  They both give him a rush and fill him with adrenaline; in general, they’re both “a lot of fun". 

The rodeo life ended in 2004.  He then started going to the races with his wife, and for three years he filled the stands. Finally thought to himself, “I’ve competed my whole life – I’ve gotta do something.”  So, he bought 3 limited Mods: one for his son, his mechanic, and himself.   

Before every race, Tommy always says a prayer as his ritual.   

Some memorable moments of Tommy’s life, include the APHA World Team Penning in 2001, Reserve Championship win in 2000, World Champion in 2001, and the Reserve again in 2002.  

A life-long mechanic by trade, Tommy’s been in the farm equipment business for “about 18 years now.”


Learning a bit about Tommy’s work and memories took a backseat, momentarily, while he spoke to a server at Bell’s Butterburgers: “I want a hamburger…just a single hamburger with crispy fries please.  No lettuce, no tomatoes.”

Tommy’s other interests aside from working hard at his business and playing hard on the race track include: old antique cars and hanging out at the Dallas County Cowboy Church. 

Tommy realizes he’s been fortunate in his life.  And although he feels he’s “been real blessed” with living a fulfilling and exciting life so far, it seems pretty common that everyone has something they’d like to give a try if given the chance.  Tommy’s thing is maybe being able “to go to Nascar one time.”  He says, “I’d like to own a Nascar car one time before something happens to me one of these years…I have one or two drivers that I’d love to have race for me there.”


Many race car drivers say that the general public has one idea about drivers and if they’d just come to the track they’d see what it was really like.  Tommy McKinley knows this two-fold.  For people that may not know the real side of being a cowboy, Tommy believes it’s a whole lot harder than most people think: there are a lot of race car people who simply “don’t comprehend the problem of being a cowboy…what it takes to be one.”  When faced with the question of him being a real cowboy, his response seems to reveal his sincerity: “Yes ma’am, you better believe it – born and raised.”   

Jason Gore and Tommy Davis Jr. race in his cars.   

Tommy Davis Jr. won the track championship at RPM Speedway in one of Tommy’s cars.  Tommy McKinley is a winner in every thing he does.  Check the Trophies  and  win photos.

Tommy’s favorite websites are Elbow’s Up and  He also has some of his own websites, including:,, and

If you need a tractor or know someone who does, call Tommy - he will take good care of you.

Click Here for Tommy's page on 













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Revised: February 23, 2013