CT’s Haynes Group Takes the Racing Plunge, Comes Up Big Winner

Fri August 15, 2003 - Northeast Edition
James Van Horn

When brothers Tom and Paul Haynes, who operate the Haynes Group, Seymour, CT, first got into auto racing as sponsors, they weren’t dyed-in-the-wool motorsports fans (sometimes called “motorheads”) at all. In fact, until several years ago, neither had ever been to an auto race and had no interest in doing so.

But when the brothers were contacted as potential sponsors, they approached racing from a business standpoint — a way to attract and keep customers for their wholesale and retail material supply outlets and construction business. Now Haynes is firmly attached to auto racing in Connecticut and, for the second year, the brothers are sponsoring one of the hottest talents in the Featherlite Modified NASCAR Touring Series: Todd Szegedy and his No. 50 Ford Mustang.

And they go to every race they’re involved with, sometimes by private plane.

The Haynes Group was founded by Raymond Haynes in 1961; his sons Thomas and Paul took over in 1985. The Haynes Group has two arms: Haynes Construction and Haynes Materials.

Haynes Construction started primarily in the construction and renovation of private residential housing. Now the construction operation focuses on the public sector; projects have included schools, police facilities, post offices and senior housing complexes. Currently Haynes is the general contractor for a major expansion of Manchester Community College in Connecticut.

Haynes Construction, which employs 130 people year-around, offers construction management services as well as general contracting, site work and masonry.

Haynes Materials runs masonry and landscape stores in Deep River, Oxford and Southbury, CT; aggregate quarries in Deep River, Naugatuck, Oxford and Torrington, CT; and a ready mix concrete plant in Seymour.

For its first foray into racing, in 2002, Haynes, appropriately chose a rookie in Todd Szegedy, but an outstanding one. He won his first race, the Richmond International Speedway 150, less than halfway through the season, and took the Butler Built Rookie of the Year award in the Featherlite Modifieds. Now, in his second year, Szegedy is currently in second place in the points standings, with five top-five finishes. He was first after the initial six races of the year, including a win in the Lake Erie 150.

Szegedy, 26, hails from Ridgefield, CT, within Haynes’ trading area. He worked the local short tracks, running several years in SK Modified cars, then joined with owner Don Barker and his Creative Racing Team of Oxford, CT. His crew chief is Tom Moran.

Szegedy’s class, the Featherlite Modified, as the name implies, features lightweight cars — they’re only around 2,600 lbs. (1,170 kg) compared with 3,400 lbs. (1,530 kg) for a Winston Cup racer. Featherlite Modified is an outgrowth of the old Modified stock car, the first division created by NASCAR. Running a 364-cu.-in. engine that develops approximately 600 hp (450 kW), the Featherlite Modifieds are the only open-wheel racers in the NASCAR group. They feature very wide tires and a ground clearance of only 2 in. (5.1 cm).

This year NASCAR is running a slate of 19 Featherlite Modified races from April through October at tracks in Connecticut (Stafford Springs, Thompson and Waterford), Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

According to Ed Several, spokesperson of Haynes, the regionality of the Featherlite Modified Series works to Haynes’ advantage. With three tracks in Connecticut, the Featherlite Modified Series has a substantial local following. At the races Haynes entertains major construction and aggregate customers. Off-track the company runs extensive in-store racing promotions for its retail customers.

According to Tom Haynes, many of their customers are auto racing fans, so there’s a natural fit, especially as they market not only to contractors but to do-it-yourselfers. They have found the racing-themed promotions and contests are very popular.

As a result, Haynes has expanded its racing activity. The company is the new — this year — sponsor of the Featherlite Modified Series event at Stafford Springs, CT, Motor Speedway, now named the Haynes Connecticut Classic.

As Tom Haynes explained, “We have entertained our customers at Stafford many times in the past, so we felt that our first race sponsorship should be there, at the finest NASCAR racing facility in the Northeast.”

In addition the company sponsored a car in the national NASCAR Busch Series race at Lime Rock, CT, last year.

“Our involvement with Todd Szegedy, Don Barker and the entire Creative Racing Team has been the perfect platform to build our business,” concluded Tom Haynes.