Race team, innovators
A 1998 Hot Rod article read, “How Three Bucks-Down Geeks Singlehandedly Put Top Fuel on Its Collective Head.” That’s exactly what Tom Jobe, Bob Skinner and driver Mike Sorokin did in the 1960s. Dubbed The Surfers for their Beach Boy style (the joke was, none of them surfed), Jobe and Skinner introduced science to compression ratios and fuel atomization, enabling them to run straight nitromethane — reliably. They revolutionized the sport, piling up wins at drag strips throughout Southern California and elsewhere in 1963-65 before capturing what some consider the greatest Top Fuel event ever, the 1966 U.S. Fuel + Gas Championships at Bakersfield with more than 100 TF entries. And they did it all on a shoestring. Following a successful cross-country tour later that year, the team disbanded. Skinner, who died in 2015, and Jobe, 2019, pursued other opportunities, wrenching Formula 5000 champions and two of three “independent” wins in the original Can-Am. Sorokin died in a racing accident in ‘67. The Surfers team was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1997.