out hot rods
Ind., is unlikely home
to race car builder Trout
driver says Indiana
is hotbed for auto racing activity
FRIENDSHIP, Ind. (August 2006) Turn
right at the Dairy Queen, drive almost eight miles through rolling hills
and corn fields, turn left and go one and a half miles through more
corn fields, and look for the NASCAR sign.
by Konnie McCollum
Trout recently converted his
Friendship, Ind., storage facility
into his permanent workshop.
Yes, that is correct. Out in Friendship, Ind., a small
rural town in the southern part of the state, stands the only shop in
Indiana that builds NASCAR autos.
Gary Trout Auto Sports, owned and operated by Gary Trout, takes plain,
flat sheets of metal and turns them into those premium racing NASCAR
machines. The shop also builds Indy cars, concept cars and hot rods,
and every car is hand fabricated.
Trout became interested in automobile racing as a hobby about 30 years
ago. At that time, he decided to race formula cars, which look like
little Indy cars. He said that at first he won quite often, but as he
moved up in the racing world, it became tougher, and money became a
major issue. He made the decision in the 1980s to run Indy cars, and
in 1984, he bought the car that led the Indianapolis 500. While he no
longer drives professionally during races, he will still occasionally
test drive his own creations.
Instead, he is the driving force behind his successful manufacturing
Trout comes up with the idea for each of his new cars, and he decides
when and where to race each of them. While his team has never won a
race yet, he said the racing world is his passion, and he simply loves
what he is doing.
Trout, who was born in Indianapolis and lived in Cincinnati most of
his life, owns another shop in Charlotte, N.C., the town that NASCAR
put on the map. Everybody thinks you have to go to Charlotte to
be successful with NASCAR, he said. He had other plans, however.
He wanted to return to his roots in Indiana, which he insists is the
true birthplace of motorsports.
by Konnie McCollum
Trout builds a variety of
race cars in his Friendship, Ind., shop.
The autosport shop in Friendship was originally used as
a storage site for up to 30 cars at a time when his business operated
out of Charlotte. It was also the stopover point in his travels with
his racing crews. But after giving it careful consideration, Trout decided
to move his day-to-day operations to Indiana.
He said there were many reasons for his change of address, but one of
the most important was the sense of community in Friendship. In
Charlotte, we were just another shop, but here in Indiana, we are exclusive,
and people around here appreciate that.
Small businesses throughout the community love to participate in the
process, and everyone is enthusiastic about his business.
Trout added that his operation is good for the area, too, because he
has trained many people to work in NASCAR, and then they have gone on
to work in other places in the industry. Apparently, people have traveled
from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana to work in his shop.
It gives many workers an opportunity that they would not get anywhere
else around here, he said.
Although his operation is run on a small budget, it still takes millions
of dollars to keep his manufacturing shop open and his cars racing.
He said every time his team goes out to test a car, it will cost $125,000
for the engine and about $30,000 in tires. An entire weekend of testing
could run well over $200,000. Each time a car is raced, a new engine
is usually needed. So with those kinds of figures, the price of racing
adds up fast.
Trout said the hardest part of his job is the continual search for sponsors
and long-term partners. He believes that continuity, which is what he
is striving for in sponsorships, is the reason behind the success of
many NASCAR and Indy car teams.
Some of his sponsors include Brute and the city of El Paso, Texas. Having
a city sponsor a NASCAR is quite unusual, but the partnership works
well for both sides.
He is interested in adding some local sponsors, such as the factories
in Madison, Ind., that are already a part of the automobile industry.
Trout said he builds specific cars for specific tracks, and the car
he will race Aug. 4-6 at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis is ready.
Chad Chaffin will drive the Gary Trout Autosport car for that race.
To contact Gary Trout Auto Sports, call
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