Todd won six national championships in his amateur figure skating career. He won a gold, silver and bronze at the World Championships – six medals overall. He’s been to three Olympics and has a successful career on the figure skating circuit. Very accomplished, very impressive. The last thing I expected was the car aficionado and racing demon that I met when we got together in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
What do you currently drive?
I drive a 1996 Ferrari 355 Spider, with 22,500 miles on it.
That is a sporty and stylish piece of machinery. Are you the original owner?
Yes. I bought it in June of 1996, right after I won the World Championship. It was a gift to myself.
Well, you have to spoil yourself, right?
I notice that it is red on a parchment-color interior. Is that your favorite color combination?
When I was a kid, I always wanted a Ferrari – just like every kid that looks at cars wants a Ferrari. And, whenever you think of Ferrari, you think of red. So, if it was going to be my first Ferrari, it had to be red. That is how I decided on red.
Do you think that you are going to upgrade to a newer model?
You know what? This, hopefully – barring anything going wrong mechanically with this car – will be in my stable forever, for so many sentimental reasons.
Do you think you will get an additional Ferrari?
Actually, I did have a 575 for a little while, and decided that one was good enough and two was too many.
What is the fastest that you have driven on the freeway?
It was in Michigan. I have gotten this Ferrari up to 165, and I think it tops out at about 185… pretty fast.
WOW. Noted. Todd likes speed, that’s pretty fast – faster than most everybody else I’ve interviewed.
Do you have any paintwork on it?
Just some small paint touch-ups from small rock chips, but, other than that, no.
What age did you learn how to drive?
I learned how to drive when I was pretty young. My mom would have my brother and I drive in the neighborhood when we were 13 to 14 years old, just to get an idea of how things work. I always just loved driving cars, driving cars around – driving all kinds of stuff, like go-carts. So I was about 13.
He started young, drives fast, has a Ferrari…definitely sounds like a guy that is deeply bitten by the car bug.
What was your first car?
My first car was an Acura Integra. After I won the national championship in 1990, I went on tour and made some money. With that money, I bought myself my own car – to give myself some independence, and get out and do whatever I wanted to do.
What color was the Acura?
It was kinda like a teal bluish/greenish kind of color.
Was it an automatic or a stick shift?
It was a stick shift. It was kind of a bold move on my part because, at the time, I didn’t really know how to drive a stick shift It was one of those jump in with both feet and ya gotta learn.
Let’s see how quickly he adapted to a stick, how mechanically inclined one of the best figure skaters of the past two decades is.
Did you bum the clutch out in it?
Fortunately, I never did. I practiced a little on my dad’s truck before I bought it, then said, ‘Here we go, I will get it, and it is going to be more fun. And I need to learn how to do it anyway.’
What kind of back did your dad have?
I think it was a little Nissan.
Curious, with athletes, music is a way to escape while they drive, watch scenery, sing, whatever. But a figure skater deals with music at the office.
What type of music do you listen to while you are driving out on the freeway?
I think most Ferrari guys would say you do not need to listen to music. You can just listen to the engine.
Listen to the hummm?
Yes! I do listen to music. I love Matchbox 20, Train, all kinds of other music…you name it I have to skate to all types of music, so I am always listening to different stuff to hopefully skate to sometime, or to just enjoy.
No Willie Nelson or Meryl Haggard?
No, not really a lot of country.
What is the craziest thing that you have done in a car?
The craziest thing that I have done in a car… hmmmm…hmmmm. I usually do not get too crazy. The scariest thing that I have done in a car was to back it into a wall at about 80 miles an hour at Sebring Race Track not that long ago. Actually, in a Corvette that I take to the race track. Unfortunately, Corvettes and puddles of water and hydroplaning do not go together. I backed it into the wall, which freaked me out a little bit, but it is all right. No big deal.
Interesting. Yes, Corvettes are built for speed, but are far too light for bad weather and tough roads. Speaking of the Corvette, can you tell me about it?
Sure. I have an ’06 Z06.1 have it all prepped up for taking it to the track. I have it lowered a bit, I have bigger brakes on it, Linginfelter air box, harness bar, racing exhaust and belts. I have all of the bells and whistles on it to take it out, and make sure that I am safe on the track and stuff like that when I go out and have some real fun.
I knew a guy going 170 to 180 miles per hour on the road was a closet race driver. He’s getting ready to go on the track. Interesting. Let’s see if he’s ready to compete against serious competition.
Do you have 600 horsepower in the Corvette?
I have 505, but with what I have in it, it probably puts out about 570 right now.
You seem to really like cars.
Yes. I have had a bunch of cars in my time and I just love them. I am a huge NASCAR fan, and any type of racing that is on TV, I am there watching it. I have Speed Channel on at all times!
If you like racing and speed, you will have to come out to Baja and hang out with my team and I during some of the Baja races.
That is funny. My cousin, Mark Fleming, just started doing photography for some of the off-road rally races. He is up in Maine a bunch. I saw some of his photos and it is pretty cool.
Yeah, you get very dirty in off-road racing.
It is unbelievable, yeah.
Back to his cars. Let’s see if he’s ail power and speed or if he’s into style as well.
What is the color combo on your Corvette?
Black on black. Black is the worst color to try and keep clean, but the best color when it is,. It just looks awesome.
You cannot go wrong with black on black.
You made a comment that your Ferrari was a gift to yourself. Do you feel that your career influenced your decision in the types of cars that you have rewarded yourself with?
I think it is one of those personal things. Even when I was growing up as a skater, I was always into cars and things, and I was fascinated with racing. When I thought of racing, it was Corvettes and Ferraris. I used to watch all of the racing on TV, Formula 1, and it was always Ferraris. Everyone wants a Ferrari and I said I gotta have it.
But, what if he wasn’t rich and famous? What if he wasn’t ever a competitive skater?
Let’s say that you were a nine-to-five type of a person. What would your car choice have been?
Nowadays, I might have chosen a hybrid, being as you get better gas mileage with something like a hybrid. My cars do not get the best gas mileage.
That leads me to a question that I was going to ask you. Speaking of hybrids, would you ever own one?
You know I probably would. It all depends. If they made a cooler/faster model, I would be all over it. You think of a hybrid and you look at them, and they are not quite as cool. You know they do not make a Corvette hybrid right now…(CHUCKLE) I like fast cars, but, then again, there is the practical side to everything. Maybe when I settle down and have a family and all of that business, then I would probably think more along those lines. When shuffling the kids out to soccer practice.
(CHUCKLE) So, you’re talking a mini-van?
How many cars do you think that you have owned throughout your life?
Too many nightmares?
Yes…(CHUCKLE)To be honest with you, it would be hard to put an exact number on it. Probably 15, maybe even more. I had an Acura Integra, a Honda Prelude, BMW M3 and a Toyota Supra Turbo.
I see a sporty type of pattern going on here.
I did have a Ford Explorer, a Chevy Tahoe and a Jeep Grand Cherokee for a while. I did have a 1962 Corvette for a while, which was a fun little car, unbelievable. I do not know how the guys that raced them back in the day handled them with no power-steering and fighting the wheel the whole time, but they are fun to cruise in.
I had a 1932 Ford Roadster built by Roy Brizio. He has a shop near San Francisco called Brizio Street Rods. I had it built from the ground up and, unfortunately, had to sell it, being as I did not use it much. I decided that I could sell it and let someone else enjoy it and have fun with it. It was fun.
Todd seems to be a speed and racing type guy, and has no practical need for a truck. But he loves vehicles so much, maybe he is a truck guy.
Would you ever own a pick-up truck?
You know, I am sure that I would at some point, maybe to haul my race cars…(CHUCKLE)
We have the Ferrari, the Corvette. Are there any other members currently in the family?
That is all that I have right now. Being in Florida, I typically drive my Corvette every day and bring this baby “Ferrari” out on really nice days. Being down here, there are a lot of those. But, being as the Corvette is in the shop, I am driving my Ferrari,
What I took from our meeting is that Todd gives you everything he’s got, all the time. He pushes limits and pushes himself constantly, living life to the fullest. I found out he races a Corvette as a weekend racer, and has an all-consuming passion and desire to be fast and sporty.