When Doug DeAngelis created FinishLynx in 1992, the Orrington native and president of Lynx System Developers had a vision.
His dream was to push timing of track and field meets — and other sports, such as cycling, speed skating and horse racing — into the digital age by not using expensive photographic paper.
Eighteen years later, the Brewer High School and University of Maine graduate has produced a successful computerized timing system that is used at world-renowned events.
Among them: The 2002 Winter Olympics, where DeAngelis used his system to time the short-track speed skating events, as well as the Penn Relays and the Tour de France.
“It’s fun to have the equipment used at these high-level and prestigious events,” DeAngelis said from his Haverhill, Mass., office. “The company has been on a slow growth path for almost 20 years.”
The FinishLynx timing system works by linking a camera at the finish line to a laptop computer, eliminating the use of photographic paper. The system’s software can send a competitor’s place, time or distance to stadium scoreboards, other computers and even Web pages.
In 1994, DeAngelis, now living in Ipswich, Mass., donated his system to Brewer High, the first high school in the state to use FinishLynx to time track meets. In 2010, you’d be hard-pressed to go to a meet in the state and not see FinishLynx being used.
“I’m pleased that people find value in the product that we make,” DeAngelis said.
Today, the FinishLynx versatile digital photo finish and timing system has branched into international markets and has also been used for horse racing, greyhound racing, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, skiing, soapbox derby and street luge.
DeAngelis was back in Maine over the Fourth of July weekend. He finished 17th overall in Sunday’s 30th annual Walter Hunt 3K road race in Bangor with a time of 9 minutes, 56 seconds and won the 40-44 age group.
“What I can’t remember is the last time I ran it under 10 minutes. I don’t know if I had gray hair at the time,” DeAngelis said.
DeAngelis didn’t run the 2009 race, working the finish line with former coach and friend Dave Jeffrey. But after his nephew Tyler, who will be a junior at Maranacook High School in Readfield in the fall, offered a challenge, DeAngelis decided to run in 2010.
“My nephew challenged me to beat him the year before,” he said.
It turns out DeAngelis got the best of his nephew, beating him by nearly three minutes, but enjoyed celebrating a hometown event’s 30th birthday.
“I always try to come up for the Fourth. Even if I’m not running the race, I like to watch the race,” he said. “It’s definitely one of my favorite races.”
Of all the meets DeAngelis’ company has timed over the years, he figures the one that has been transformed the most is the Penn Relays, one of the biggest events in collegiate athletics.
“They couldn’t do the Penn Relays the way they do it now without our technology,” he said. “There’s too many bodies, too many people, and to actually get the results out on a timely basis with the number of people they have now would not be possible without us.”
And at big meets such as the Penn Relays, where spectators would like to see final results on the scoreboards soon after a race or media personnel need them fairly quickly, FinishLynx is a huge asset.
“The whole idea was to link the finish line to the outlets, scoreboard, Internet, and there’s no better place than the Penn Relays to demonstrate that,” DeAngelis said.
The timing system is also used extensively overseas, having timed meets in Mexico, Brazil, Poland, France and Bulgaria.
DeAngelis’ FinishLynx wisdom was passed down to Jeffrey, along with Brewer High teacher and coach Glendon Rand, both of whom time cross country and track events throughout the state and New England.
When DeAngelis entered Brewer in 1980, he admittedly wasn’t a fast runner, but leaned on Jeffrey for support.
“The thing about Dave and a lot of coaches, he was able to make everyone on the team feel like an individual and to feel like he actually cared about their individual performance, which was very hard, especially with the size of the teams that he had,” he said. “I had never run before high school, there was no good reason for me to keep running, and the only reason I did was because Dave supported me.”
DeAngelis specialized in the middle-distance events, and went on to run for UMaine, from which he graduated in 1988.
Luchini wins 2-miler
Ellsworth native Louie Luchini decided to head out of state to race over the holiday weekend, and returned home a winner.
The 29-year-old won the John Carson 2-mile race in Chelmsford, Mass. The race featured 1,766 finishers and Luchini completed the race in 8 minutes, 49.85 seconds.
This is one of the bigger holiday events in Massachusetts, as it has drawn more than 1,800 participants in the past and averages 1,500 per summer, with as many as 50,000 spectators lining the course, according to the race’s Web site.