Carving Out Racing History, One Car at a Time

Story by Will Silk

Ford GT40 Wood Carving FrontI recently received an email from a gentleman in Maryland that does wood carvings of sports cars. One look at the pictures he sent along made me promptly sit down and have a closer look. The carvings were of a Porsche 917K and a Ford GT40, two of history’s most lethal and winning sports cars. So I made it a point to contact the craftsman who whittled these fine masterpieces to perfection and found a man that, although he works with wood as a passion, bleeds sports car racing through and through.

Gary Tatman resides in the town of Glen Burnie, Maryland and is a millwork installation foreman by trade. Gary’s career in carving began at the young age of 6 years, when his Grandfather gave Gary his first pocket knife and began showing Gary how to carve with his new knife. Tatman’s first encounter with the realm of speed also occurred while he was young and impressionable. Gary recalls, “The Porsche 917K was my first encounter with motor racing, as my father took me to see the movie, “Le Mans” with Steve McQueen. I still remember the scene with the Ferrari’s wheel trackside and the 917Ks screaming down the Mulsanne at break neck speed.” Once bitten, Gary began to combine his love of carving with his love of sports car racing.

A few years ago, Tatman decided to enter into the realm of commissioned art, and began taking in clients who commissioned Gary to construct a carved replica to their specifications. “It [the business] is a commission based part-time venture at present.” the master carver admits. “The intricately detailed projects can take up to 750 hours, but a fairly bland version may only take 50 hours, so there is quite a range for pricing.” Gary’s rate is $20.00 per hour, and he offers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. “Satisfaction is guaranteed on large projects, if unhappy at the end of a build; and after every opportunity has been exhausted to insure a preferred finished product; if the client is still unhappy, we shake hands and part company, I gain a display piece for shows and the commissioner loses nothing!”

The future looks bright indeed for this master carver. When asked what future projects he has lined up, Gary replied, “I’m currently working on an Alfa Romeo display table, ranging from the 1938 Alfa – the 1980 Alfa 179 for the 2010 Dayton Concours d’Elegance; and I will be working on a fairly detailed Duesenberg, for Amelia Island next year.”

Gary is currently constructing a website, but if you are interested in commissioning one of his hand-carved jewels, you may contact him at Gary Tatman, 421 Phirne Rd. West, Glen Burnie, MD 21061 or via email at [email protected].

Gary Tatman Wood Carving – Photo Gallery

Gary Tatman Carvings
Gary Tatman Carvings
Porsche 917 and Ford GT40 Wood Carving Top
Porsche 917 and Ford GT40 Wood Carving
Ford GT40 Wood Carving
Ford GT40 Wood Carving
Porsche 917K and Ford GT40
Porsche 917K and Ford GT40

[Source: Will Silk; photos: Gary Tatman]

Show Comments (9)

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  1. Wow. i remember building a 1/24 scale 917K plastic kit and it took a lot of time, this is crazy!

    1. Hi Matt, I’m the crazy carver of these mahogany scaled replicas. The 917k took 750 hrs to complete, and I still have a steering linkage to install to allow front tires to turn by steering wheel and a drive linkage to spin-up engine cooling turbine fan, when rear wheels are spun or rolled. Thanks for the compliment, I appreciate you taking the time to comment! Take Care! Gary

  2. I’m doing a homework project on cars and I need to know if the wheels on your models turn or are they stationary.

  3. Also do you make each piece separately before joining them together or do you carve the whole thing as one piece?