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If not the most successful drag racer in Kansas history, Emporia’s Gary Stinnett is certainly on the short list of contenders for that honor.
But as much as he’s won on the track – two national titles and a ton of Division V crowns – Stinnett has been just as successful in the racing business, even through a tough economic environment over the past several years.
“We've been swamped,’’ said Stinnett, the owner of Stinnett Automotive and Racing in Emporia. “I keep adding personnel and we keep needing more.''
Stinnett, who continues to race Super Comp and Super Stock in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, also continues to expand his operation.
“We're kind of branching out, more nationally and even internationally,’’ he said. “A year ago we did a five-engine deal for a country -- the United Arab Emirate Islands. They added a drag strip and they bought five cars and we did all five engines and carburetors.
“This year when they rebuilt them we had to send them parts (and) I sent out carburetors to Mexico, Finland, Sweden, Hawaii and Arabia. Probably 75 percent of our business is now out of state.''
Like almost everybody else, Stinnett was concerned when money got tight, but the advice he got from a friend has turned out to be true.
“A friend of mine in the engine-building business, 10 years ago when I was worried about it at that time, I mentioned something to him about the upcoming year and he said, "Don't worry," Stinnett recalled.
“He had been in business for a number of years and he said, “Racers are recession-proof. They're going to race. They may not race as often, but they're going to race and if they're going to race they've got to have their engines and transmissions and carburetors."
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