Victory Lane Magazine, September 2015: Vol. 30, No. 9
Story and photos by Terry Johnsen
Walk through any vintage motorsport paddock on the East Coast and you’ll usually find the orange, black, and white rolling pit garage of SascoSports, Inc. Their impressive operation and stable of finely tuned machines are hard to miss. Their home operations are located in the Technology Park at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). So, while covering the 2014 SVRA Heacock Gold Cup Historic Races at VIR, I sat down and had a conversation with Owner, Dave Handy about SascoSports. A brief follow-up took place at the 2015 HSR Mitty at Road Atlanta.
Dave stated that it all began in 1977 with Charlie Gibson. Dave noted that he was a senior in high school at the time Charlie called him up. Charlie was looking for someone to work on his cars as he ventured into vintage racing. He was participating at the time in Formula Atlantic, and in the SCCA ranks before that. The partnership began at Charlie’s house, in his garage, just the two of them.
Many people have wondered about the origin of the name SascoSports, and how it came to be. Charlie Gibson lived on a street named Sasco. It’s as simple as that. Dave said that they started out preparing Charlie’s cars, but then word got around of how well the cars performed. Other competitors then sought their assistance with rebuilds. The business eventually grew, mainly through ‘word-of-mouth’. The partnership began in Fairfield, CT, and then moved to Stratford. In 1999 they moved into their current 10,000 sq. ft. facility at VIR. Charlie passed away in 2004, and Dave said he’s been carrying the torch ever since.
As an overview of the SascoSports services, Dave stated they offer everything from minor repair, to full restorations, to an arrive-and-drive program. They do the prep, maintenance, and repairs in their shop, along with full-service race weekend support. The majority of the cars they are servicing for the Gold Cup reside at SascoSports. Ten cars are in the stable for the weekend, which includes two that Dave is racing. He also noted that it was not uncommon for a competitor or two to call on them during any given race weekend, usually because they are in need of a part or tool. Dave explained the camaraderie of the paddock is such that everyone wants to assist however they can.
When asked about their involvement as a tire dealer, Dave noted that Phil Lamont, President of Vintage Tyres Limited, Nova Scotia (Canada), contacted them and asked if SascoSports could take tires to the events and sell them. It began with Dunlop’s, and then Goodyear’s too. Later, tire brands such as Avon and Toyo were offered. SascoSports offers support, guidance, and years of expertise to match the competitors with the tires best suited for them.
The SascoSports team averages about three to four crew-members for an event. Dave noted the Gold Cup is always bigger in scale, because it’s a home event. For this particular weekend they have ten members in attendance. I asked Dave to describe SascoSports and what sets them apart from other services. He explained that the collective knowledge of his guys and their positive attitude really makes a difference. He said, “The staff enjoys being here, and they make it fun for the competitors as well”…adding, “the cars are fast and safe, and at the end of the day, fun.”
In a calendar year SascoSports have handled as many as 38 events. They have ventured as far north as Mont Blanc (Canada), as far west as High Point Raceway in Colorado, and as far south as Homestead, Florida. Generally they cover all vintage events east of the Mississippi. In 2014 they ventured to Colorado for the first time. Dave said it allowed him to put faces to the voices, getting to meet people face to face. It also offered a great opportunity to provide their tire service to new competitors.
Currently, SascoSports has a dozen active drivers in their stable, who attend anywhere from three to ten events a year. Dave noted that there’s always a mix. The customers have their favorite tracks to drive and personal schedules to juggle and work around. He said, “it’s our vocation, but their hobby”…adding, “the fact that they come out and do this and support us is pretty special.”
Dave explained SascoSports handles a wide variety of cars, some with interesting pedigree and lineage. He mentioned they service a 1970 McLaren M8C, which is a special prototype, housing a special Cosworth engine. Also, there is a 1968 McLaren M6B, which they have had since 1977. He added that they work on a couple of Sports 2000 cars, which are former SCCA National Championship winners. One car that has always caught my eye in the SascoSports stable is a 1969 Lola T70 Mark III Coupe (#82), owned and driven by Hobart Buppert. It’s the first continuation car Lola built. On this particular weekend Dave was racing his 1968 Brabham BT29 that he has had for 8 years, and a 1985 Swift DB2 that he has had for 2 years.
Dave stated that his wife Robyn, is heavily involved in the business, handing the logistics, hotel, travel, and hospitality for the events, along with all advertising and public relations needs. Racing runs through the family, and that weekend of the Gold Cup featured the SVRA Black and White dinner. During the evening’s announcements and presentations, SVRA President Tony Parella introduced Robert Pass as one of the newly inducted members into the SVRA Hall of Fame. Robert is Dave’s Father-in-law and former owner of SVRA in the 80’s.
Looking forward, Dave noted that vintage and historic racing appears to be on the incline. Participation is up, and he’s been seeing new faces and new competitors in and around the paddock. He described the landscape is changing, and that some competitors who have raced in series such as SCCA and NASA are trying their hand in vintage racing.
Indeed, the future is bright for vintage and historic racing. There will be new faces, and even some new events in the years to come. But, one constant will be certain, and that will be seeing the unmistakable orange, black, and white awning of the SascoSports trailers in a paddock near you. As Dave said, “the cars are fast and safe”, which means their customers are happy. We all know that’s a tough combination to beat.