SascoSports rolls into racing events to service vintage racing venue
LEXINGTON, Ohio—Dave Handy's tire dealership is probably a lot like many—except that it's housed in four tractor trailers, is “open” only three to four days a week and racks up 75,000 miles of travel a year to service its customers.
Mr. Handy's business, SascoSports Inc., is a distributor of Dunlop, Avon, Goodyear and Kumho race tires specializing in service to the vintage racing world. This means he and his crew of six set up shop somewhere different throughout the U.S. and Canada about 40 weekends a year.
At a recent Sports Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Lexington, SascoSports' business site was a 1,500-sq.-ft. patch of asphalt under a canopy stretched between the two tractor trailers Mr. Handy and three employees had driven from Alton, Va., where Sasco has its headquarters.
Typically, SascoSports' mobile tire shops arrive at a track on a Thursday and open for business Friday morning. The crew is busy until the last race is run Sunday afternoon. A typical weekend's work will comprise changing 300 to 400 tires, Mr. Handy told Tire Business.
Then it's pack away the equipment and the used tires accumulated throughout the weekend and head for Alton. By Wednesday the trailers are being refilled for the next weekend, and—depending on the length of the drive—already headed back out on the road.
If that schedule isn't daunting enough, Mr. Handy does double duty most weekends, racing at least one of his five vintage race cars in the respective class races while overseeing the tire business as well.
Mr. Handy's been supplying racers with tires for more than 30 years, but he didn't start out back in 1978 thinking the tire business would become his profession.
Back then he and friend and colleague Charlie Gibson were weekend racers, campaigning vintage racers in New England and doing race car preparation for others.
As the friends became more well known among that circle, they were approached by Phil Lamont, owner of Hubbard, Nova Scotia-¬ based Vintage Tyres Ltd.—the Dunlop race tire supplier for North America—about becoming the trackside service pro¬vider for him. Since they were on the road racing somewhere most weekends anyway, it seemed like a decent way to make some extra money, Mr. Handy said.
What started out as a sideline evolved over the next several years into a full-time business, he said, and in 1999 the partners moved the business—named for the road where Mr. Gibson lived in Fairfield, Conn.—to Alton, home of the then-new Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
VIR owners Harvey Siegel and Connie Nyholm built their facility with an eye toward attracting motorsports-related companies to set up shop there in a type of racing-oriented industrial park. SascoSports was their first client.
SascoSports operates a 20,000-sq.-ft. shop there, Mr. Handy said, mostly for storing tires, tire servicing equipment and his vintage race cars—a 1970s-era Brabham BT29 Formula B single-seater; a Lotus 23 C-sports racer from the 1960s; a McLaren M8B Can-Am racer from late '60s; a Ralt Formula Atlantic; and a Lola Formula Ford.
He doubled the size of his operation there earlier this year after gaining the contract with Dunlop Motorsports to provide trackside services to BMW Rahal Letterman Racing, which is campaigning a pair of BMW M3 sedans in the American Le Mans Series' GT2 class.
That contract, for three years, has not only been a boost for SascoSports' business, it has opened a door for Benjie Ray, one of Mr. Handy's tire changers and truck drivers, to become a trained tire technician under Dunlop's tutelage.
After working with the Dunlop engineers in preseason testing, Mr. Ray was offered the chance to learn some basic trackside technician's skills. Part of that training included attending classes in England and working at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in Le Mans, France, in June.
Mr. Handy said business has been down somewhat this year, although it's picked up in recent weeks.
“Not quite sure why,” he said, “but perhaps it's a sign that people's confidence is starting to pick up.”
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