In the recent episode of the podcast “Shop Talk,” Tommy Cunningham of Stroud Safety shared his insights and provided a captivating look into the evolving landscape of motorsports, where the lines between passion for speed and the imperative for safety are continuously being redrawn.
Tommy Cunningham is not just a name in the industry; he’s a story of dedication and innovation. Balancing his time between Stroud Safety and Cunningham Machine in Murray, Kentucky, Tommy gave listeners a glimpse of his schedule, highlighting the bustling nature of his dual roles, stating, ”It’s a lot of back and forth… busy, real busy right now.”
A significant portion of the conversation centered on the critical aspect of fire suppression in motorsports – a topic close to Cunningham’s heart. He recounted his journey from producing nozzles in Kentucky to taking the helm at Stroud Safety. “There’s nothing scarier for any race car driver than fire,” Cunningham emphasized, underlining the visceral fears that drive the need for robust safety measures in racing.
The dialogue also ventured into the realms of car culture and its burgeoning popularity, especially in areas like Oklahoma City. Cunningham noted the shifting trends, from the increasing presence of high-performance street cars to the integration of sophisticated safety features. “It’s been a blessing for us,” he remarked, acknowledging the positive impact of this cultural shift on his business.
The discussion also touched on the influence of media and the pandemic on motorsports. Shows like “Street Outlaws,” as Cunningham pointed out, have played a significant role in bringing car culture into the mainstream. “They came around at a time when racing was hurting… and gave us a shot in the arm that we needed,” he said, highlighting the rejuvenating effect of media exposure on the industry.
Moreover, the pandemic ushered in an unexpected surge in automotive interest. With more time at hand, people turned to their garages, leading to a spike in car modifications and safety investments. “A lot of people had a lot of extra money and nothing to do… they went out in the garage and worked on that race car,” Cunningham observed.
Cunningham’s mission at Stroud Safety is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the automotive industry, which is continually evolving to meet the challenges of the times. As the conversation wrapped up, it was clear that Cunningham isn’t just contributing to the industry; he’s shaping its future, one safety innovation at a time.