Genoa 410 sprint driver Brian Lay, a 1998 Lake graduate, has been racing sprint cars 12 years.
Starting this year, fellow drivers know Lay is going to be a contender on any given night. That’s partly because of his family history on the track and partly because of his performance last year.
When Lay became Attica Raceway Park’s first repeat 410 sprint winner of the season last year, the first thing he did was credit family.
“I have to thank all my sponsors, my dad, Uncle Kenny, my cousin Rick…all the guys that come with me and help me on a weekly basis,” Lay said.
“It takes so much time and so much effort to get this thing to go around, let alone the money, but it’s so sweet when you are standing here,” added Lay in victory lane as his car belched steam. “It was about 250 (degrees) when I crossed the line…I hope she ain’t hurt. But, we’re celebrating tonight.
“There’s been a lot of monkeys on this back and as long as I can get as many trophies as monkeys that I had we’ll be doing just fine,” added Lay beside his No. 45 car.
In the caution-free 30-lap feature, only nine cars finished on the lead lap as Chris Andrews and Lay set a blistering pace. Lay passed Andrews, the early race leader, on lap 18 and pulled away for his second career sprint victory.
In Fremont Speedway’s 62nd year, Lay ended the 2013 season sixth in the 410 sprint standings. He competed in 12 A-mains and recorded seven top 10 finishes including a season-best second on Sept. 7. His average feature finishing position was 10th.
At Attica last year, Lay was eighth. He competed in 14 features there, missing only opening night. He racked up his first two ever Attica wins on July 19 and Aug. 17. Lay recorded five top 10 finishes and besides his wins scored a pair of third place finishes. His average feature finishing position was 12th.
In one race at Attica, Lay brought the crowd to its feet with a win over veteran Gibsonburg racer Craig Mintz.
For most of the season, Lay had served notice he was going to be a force to be reckoned with at Attica with numerous top five runs. He finally closed the deal, storming from 15th starting spot to take the lead with a slider on Craig Mintz on a lap 24 restart and going on to score his first career 410 sprint car win on dirt.
“I knew this was coming eventually. I just tried and tried…I’ve put my dues in,” Lay said. “I’ve flipped, I’ve crashed, I’ve wrecked and I came back for more.
“Right now this is what it’s all about. It’s for the fans, it’s for more crew and it’s for my old man,” said an emotional Lay.
“I pulled a Hail Mary…I pulled the wing all the way to the trunk and said go and I did,” said Lay of his winning strategy. “I knew I could get him (Craig Mintz) in one and two I just had to get a good restart. I said ‘it’s now or never’ and I told my guys that I gave people room before and I’m not giving it anymore.”
In his blood
Lay, who was raised in Millbury, says racing has always been in his blood.
“It’s about the only thing I’ve ever known. I started racing two-wheelers when I was a young kid, about 4-years-old, and the ‘old man’ was always into cars and stuff like that,” Lay said.
“We went through some three- and four-wheel racing and got into go-karts, and from ’87 up until ’99 was our last full year of go-kart racing, and then in ’02 we got a sprint car. We realized we had so much money in those go-karts we decided we might as well buy a real race car. It’s been everything I’ve ever known.”
As a youth, Lay won some local track championships in go-kart racing, plus a runner-up finish in a national championship and multiple race wins.
“I was always up front, always on the podium,” Lay said. “We never really liked points racing because you are forced to go to certain places at certain times.”
Lay said his idles while growing up were race car drivers, even local drivers, and it was considered a privilege to scrape mud off a racer’s sprint car after it had been running on dirt or clay.
“I remember when I was that age, just to have a driver in a driving suit come shake your hand, that was ‘Oh my God,’ and that kid will never forget your name,” Lay said. “It’s pretty much been in my blood ever since.”
When he began driving sprint cars, he went straight from a 125-shifter car to the 410 sprint car, which is the larger of two classes of sprint cars that Attica and Fremont race.
“We originally wanted to go 305 racing, and we bought a car that had a 360 in it, and we found out that the 360s runs against the 410 anyways, so we traded the 360, before I even sat in the seat,” Lay said of the April 2002 purchase that got him started. He was just 22-years-old and never raced a big car in a competitive race.
“It was one of those things. I said, ‘I’m going to have to figure out how to put it on the floor and see what happens. It was out at Sandusky Speedway, and it was an open practice day, and we wanted to go out there and shake this thing down,” Lay said.
“I waited until I got in a straight line, and I stood on it. When I get out of it, I wasn’t used to the suspension and things were moving so much that I was kind of falling out of the seat and holding on to the wheel at the same time.”