EP180: Speedway Announcement, Modifieds, and TGR Lazer Chassis

EP180: Speedway Announcement, Modifieds, and TGR Lazer Chassis

Published by Crate Insider on 6th Mar 2024

Taylor Griffith from TGR - Lazer Racing & Development and Lavonia Speedway joined Jimmy and Kate on the latest episode of the Racing Insider's Podcast.

They discussed Taylor's journey in motorsports, services they offer, and the secrets behind TGR Lazer's success.

Taylor, I think you've been keeping real real busy. I know you've got an exciting announcement to, to make. So tell us tell us the latest and greatest. (3:00)

Yeah, well, actually we did a little bit of an announcement a couple weeks ago on the Facebook page, but we bought Lavonia Speedway. So I've really stepped in it now. So we'll see how that goes. We actually had our first race last Saturday and everything went really good. Had a good crowd. So it's gonna be a learning curve, though. I'm sure that good.

From your first night, what was your favorite part? Was there anything that was rewarding or anything really went well, or what was your favorite part? (4:12)

I'd say, you know, Lavonia has got a good staff. And most of those guys have been there. 10 plus years, you know, so everybody kind of knows what they're doing. Everything went smooth. We didn't have any major hiccups. Nobody told me I was only gonna get to watch like 10 laps of race cars. So that was unexpected. We spent most of time in the office at night, but we got Joey Grove, he come down and he kind of helped us race through it and he's gonna help do some promotion type stuff. So that was fun. There's a lot of things that unless you've done that you can't accurately describe to anybody and then believe you you know what I mean to this there's a lot of moving parts so trying to keep up with everything you feel like you should be doing versus the things you should be just letting other people handle that was the main thing you got to there's there's so much going on you got to be able to step back and trust that the people that are there already know what they're doing and not not try to over manage. 

So what was the most challenging part? (9:09)

The logistics of getting all of the money accounted for and then getting the pay envelopes stuffed in a timely manner. That's that's a project and that's something I had no concept of whatsoever. And that that took up 90% of our time at the track like say, Oh, I probably only walked 10 or 15 laps and racing because you're constantly having to deal with things coming in and get back right and going back out for pay. Whether that for racers are employees are the ambulances. There's just a lot of things that have to happen in the office for everything else to run like it's supposed to run, keep and change the concession stands. And there's just the logistics of everything is there's a lot hang on that's that's what we would have had the most trouble with without Scott there because he's he's got a knack for that stuff. He's been doing it so long. So it was, it was handy having him there.

How did you get hooked up with Lazer Chassis originally back in the day? (14:19)

Well, we actually met Jim at PRI and I was when I went I went to the show we knew going into the show we were looking for something a little different chassis wise. And I wanted to be somebody we could be a dealer for as well. And GM stuff. I know both of y'all seen it. It's like so fabrication is second to none. And just seeing the car and they had cut away some of the body off. It's beautiful. And that's really what hooked me. And then I was I was still kind of back and forth between him and another outfit and we went up to his open house. that following January after PRI and and that same day I took money with me to the open house I wasn't sure I was giving it to him yet but but we we had a lot of success with their cars gross drove for us for the first two years and we want a pile races with those things and we've had a lot of guys do really good in the rental car.

Taylor when is your next race at Lavonia? (22:03)

Oh, we got a practice this weekend. It was originally scheduled for Saturday we've moved it Friday because Saturday is looking like a wash and then we race again on March 23.

Are you going to try to race every week or you know, for the summer are you doing like specials? (22:17)

Kind of be a little more often than every other weekend. We're gonna try to we're pretty close to Toccoa Speedway down here. And we're gonna try to kind of alternate weekends with them. We've got a bunch of race cars in our area. But by the time you know, we've got Winder here with us too. And they've they've got their own crowd that are going to go there no matter what but Toccoa Lavonia share a lot of cars. So we're gonna try to try to stay off top of each other and still have somewhere for people to race every weekend.

Are you gonna do any other events besides racing? (22:51)

We're gonna do a Halloween themed monster truck show on Halloween weekend, talking a few people about some different concerts. We're going to next year, there'll be a lot more of that. But I got the reins for this thing pretty late this year. So we're, we're focused on staying operational right now. And then we'll get creative next year.

How you how you operate your rental car program from a profitability and legality side? (24:21)

we've talked a few people around the country about how we're conducting the program in the asphalt world. This is old news. Like if you go run asphalt late model, I'd say 40 to 50% of the cars you're racing against are rented. That was my background, we raced legends cars for a long time before we swapped to dirt. So I saw a lot of that. So I've always had in the back of my mind. And when I first decided to really look into it, I called Jim and Jim thought I was crazy at first, I think but but the on the profitability side, it wouldn't be profitable enough to mess with it if we didn't have everything else involved. So we've got the part store, we're selling tires and fuel. With the main thought behind it was with us being a dealer for Lazer, if we could get these people swapped over from asphalt and their first experience in the dirt car was in a Lazer Chassis that's properly maintained properly set up, if they did decide to go dirt racing, that we will be at the top of the list for car purchase. So that was the first thought is how do we increase Lazer Chassis sales. And from there, we started doing a lot of tests Irequire tests before race unless you're some superstar. And started, when we were doing those tests were having to rent the track out and then it turned into a scramble of finding enough cars to help cover the track rental too. So all everything I charged for the rental didn't go to the track for rental. And that started looking like it was adding up the enough to make a payment every month. So that's where the track idea come from.

So but as far as a tests, which charge $1750 for a three hour test, so we're not making a killing on on just the rental aspect of it. But when you tie it together with everything else, it starts to make a lot more sense. And then the race is a normal Weekly Race. We're in the $2,500 range including tire. So it's not like we're making a killing. But I've already got Ricky in the shop working on everything else. So it's if you had to hire just somebody just to work a rental car program, and you had to have a shop, and a truck and a trailer just for a rental car program. If that was the only thing you were doing, there's nowhere near enough money in it unless you're charging $5,000 Every time hit the track. But when it's tied together with everything else, it kind of comes out in the water.

It's a form of marketing for everything else for too because now especially with the track, that's where we're taking them test and 90 I'd say 90% of the people or more that we've dealt with or asphalt racers, so we're bringing people into the dirt side, they realize you can have way more fun for a lot less money. And if their first good experiences at a dirt track is that Lavonia then then it's more likely that they're gonna race regularly at Lavonia. Yeah. So then you've got them and their fan, friends and family and they're all buying, you know, pit passes or grandstand passes, come watch. So it all kind of snowballs together but if it was just a pure rental program, we'd have to charge twice or more of what we charge for it to workout. 

So have you seen that happen like it since you've been doing the rental? Have you seen people that have bought like new cars? (28:24)

The first guy that did the rental, I put it on Facebook and like 30 minutes later, a guy named Cole Dockery messaged me he's a legends car racer from Charlotte area Gastonia. I think he'd run a couple thunder bomber races didn't have a ton of dirt experience. But he came down and did a test and he was like, he was good, like straight out the gate. And he signed up for four races with us. We took him to Lavonia first first one, we put him in the Lavonia has a 602 charter class, which is like a beginner 602 late model class. And he won it by like a straightaway first time out and he was running 16.9s and I think the guy that won the regular 602 was running 17.1s. So he he sold his Legend's car the next week. He was hooked after that. And we built him it was actually a 21 model car. So it wasn't a brand new chassis, but it never been raised. We found that Pennsylvania for him brought it down, put together. And he we keep his car up in the shop. He runs Lavonia with us now. 

I always thought it'd be super cool if you had like a garage area at a racetrack. But then you had one main area that had like some of the common tools like a brake and a shear and, you know, stuff like that. And then people could rent space from you and keep their car at the racetrack. Now, you don't have to have a truck and trailer, you know, you just like drive from the garage area, you know, onto the track and you go back. I figured that would be like super cool. (30:33)

I'm grinning because I'm working on that.

Dustin is asking "just bought the KSC fuel regulator, does it have to go behind the fuel log, or can it go in front? And also does the 602 -10 fuel line feed? Or do you need a -10?" (38:23)

So Dustin, to answer your question, you can put that fuel regulator anywhere within the system, so you can put it before or after the fuel log. And then also, as far as the, the bypass regulator fuel line, it's actually set up for a -8. So you can bring it with a -8 line back, you can always do whatever you want to do as far as an adapter but the in the fuel regulator itself, it has a -8 Inlet in there.

Of course, we all do the CARS Racing Show together. Taylor, you've been an exhibitor at the show since the reboot - 4 years now. I think if you didn't find an advantage, you wouldn't keep doing it. But, what has been some of the reasons that it's been the most helpful for you? (51:48)

Yeah, we definitely wouldn't be expanding our footprint, if we didn't say it's really focused is my main benefit that we see there's, you know, PRIs fun to see everything but you'll talk to 10 people that you will never sell anything to, for everyone that you talk to, that might become a customer. And every everybody at the CARS Show is a potential customer for what you're doing. So that's, that's one benefit we see of it, is it's it's super focused on the people that we do business with. And it's good too, because it's, you know, with Jim and Lazer being in Pennsylvania, we get to bring him and his product all the way down here and really showcase it in front of the people that need to be seeing it. So the just the fact that it is only people that we deal with on a daily basis is probably our favorite thing about the show.