Distance Racing Products owner Jeff Taylor said the slow economy has taken its toll on his business but he isn’t panicking.
“[Business] is definitely slower than it has been. But it’s been steady. We’re still busy every day and that’s all you can ask for in a hobby-driven sport. We just don’t have work piled up outside the door like we used to,” said the 41-year-old Taylor, who estimated that business is down at least 25-30 percent over their banner year two years ago.
Distance Racing Products, located in Fairfield, builds and repairs race cars and sells body parts excluding engines and transmissions.
Taylor and Sean Laplant are the only full-time employees.
Taylor used to work with Stan Meserve before buying the business from Meserve.
“Two years ago, we had the biggest year we’ve ever had. That was twice as much as we had ever done,” said Taylor. “We built 30 new cars that year. We had some stuff two years ago before everybody else had it but they’ve caught up to us.”
This year we’ve built 17 cars. But we usually average between 15-20 a year. Twenty years ago, Stan and I were only building two or three new ones a year. So we’re still in good shape,” said Taylor.
“People aren’t spending. They just get what they absolutely have to have. There’s no extra. That’s just the way it is,” explained Taylor. “It’s a money sport so it doesn’t take much for someone to convince themselves not to do it for a while.”
Taylor and Laplant work on race cars of all different types.
“We try to help as much as we can. But this is an expensive game and it doesn’t matter what level you do it at,” he said. “We haven’t been repairing as money cars as we usually do.”
Auto racing in the state has undergone significant changes in recent years.
Unity Raceway, Oxford Plains Speedway, Wiscasset Raceway and Hermon’s Speedway 95 all dropped the Pro Stock class from their racing programs within the last five years due to the expense involved.
But Wiscasset Raceway brought the Pro Stock class back in 2007 after a three-year absence. Doug White purchased the track from Dave and Sandra St. Clair and re-instituted the division.
Late Model cars, which are much less expensive than Pro Stocks, occupy the top division at Speedway 95, Unity Raceway, Oxford Plains Speedway and Spud Speedway in Caribou.
Wiscasset Raceway and Scarborough’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway are the only tracks in Maine with Pro Stock racing.
“Having just Beech Ridge and Wiscasset with Pro Stocks hinders the PASS [Pro All-Stars Series] series a little bit because that’s what they feed off. And a lot of those guys don’t have LMS [Late Model] cars,” said Taylor.
Taylor, a Farmington native and nine-time Pro Stock points champion at Oxford Plains Speedway, said he has attended races at several tracks in the state and has observed that the car counts are down.
Taylor pointed out that there are two distinct types of LMS cars, the ones that race on the American-Canadian Tour and in the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway and the other ones that race every week at local tracks.
He and Laplant built 10 of the cars that comprised the 43-car field at the TD Banknorth 250 last month.
“That’s a quarter of the field which is a pretty good average. But we didn’t win,” said Taylor.
He said the rules “are getting closer” between the two distinct kinds of LMS cars “but they still have a ways to go.”
Taylor hopes to get back in a race car some day.
“I miss it. But it all comes down to time,” said Taylor.
Williams wins Sizzler 150
Boothbay’s Corey Williams won the Southern Sizzler 150 PASS South Super Late Model race at the Orange County Speedway on Saturday night in Rougemont, N.C.
It was the fifth PASS South win of Williams’ career.
Williams is a tire carrier and fabricator for the Andy Santerre Motorsports Team in the Camping World East Series.
Farmington’s Cassius Clark finished sixth and series points leader Ben Rowe of Turner was 10th after spinning out late with five laps remaining.
The PASS North Super Late Model Series resumes Saturday night with a 150-lapper at Seekonk Speedway (Mass.).
Hallowell’s Johnny Clark has a 46-point lead over Ben Rowe with Adam Bates of Warner, N.H. just five points behind Rowe.
The PASS Mods and Sportsman will race Sunday afternoon at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H.