To many, southern Indiana serves as a hotbed for dirt racing.
With tracks within hours apart, hundreds flock to the area every year to take to the tracks.
When Ryan Thomas saw a chance to move his company, Diamond Race Cars, to Seymour, he took full advantage of the opportunity.
Now, in a garage off North Ewing Street, Thomas constructs, builds and sells modified stock cars.
Thomas opened shop this past summer.
“I started building cars in Morgantown, where I’m originally from, and in 2010 I moved to Gosport,” Thomas said. “I was there until this past summer. This area, there’s a lot of racers. I think it’s a better place to prosper.
“Within two hours, you have five or six racetracks. There are a lot of racers in the area. That’s another thing that attracted me to this area to move my business. I think there’s a pretty big customer base. It doesn’t have to just be a Diamond Race Car — all cars need parts and repairs. I think that will help, too.”
The initial move didn’t go as Thomas had planned.
“It has been a little hectic,” he said. “I got sick right after I moved, and then I had to get employees and everything rolling. Everything is going pretty good now. I’m hoping to get our front room stocked with parts to sell.”
Including himself, Diamond Race Cars has three employees and one sub.
Thomas first hopped in a car as a teen, where he found his passion for racing.
“I started racing in a super stocks when I was 16 years old,” Thomas said. “In 2001, I began racing modified. In 2008, I decided to build a modified for myself. I never would have dreamed to be able to sell cars. It just kind of took off.”
In 2008, Thomas was the sole driver for Diamond Race Cars. That number grew to four in 2009, and by 2010 there were 15 cars.
The shop solely concentrates on modifieds, and Thomas plans on keeping it that way.
Thomas said that he works with a number of racers in the state, and his business has grown since the move by making more connections.
While Thomas has his hand in local racing, he also sells cars nationwide.
“We have cars in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virgina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana,” Thomas said. “The business is based on winning. The more you win, the more you’re going to sell. Our cars have won a lot, and I think that’s helped us.”
This past weekend, Thomas traveled to Springfield, Illinois, to show off one of his cars at the annual United Midwest Promotions banquet and trade show.
“It was kind of a way to market yourself,” Thomas said. “People go through and look at the cars and see different ideas. Sometimes you even sell cars. Maybe not at the show, but six months down the road.”
In the back of the shop, the sounds of saws and welding bounced off the walls — creating cars for the next racing season.
“This time of year is our busy time,” Thomas said. “It’s building season. Right now, we’re 16 cars behind, and everyone wants them by racing season in April. In the summer time, it will slow down, but cars will still need repairs and parts.”
For Thomas, building cars serves as a fun work environment.
“I still enjoy it — it’s better than punching a time clock and working for somebody,” he said. “It’s just one of those deals where it’s a lot of work. I really enjoy fabricating and building. You can go out and see success with it, whether it’s for yourself or another racer. I enjoy the competitiveness of it.”
Thomas said he plans on selling car parts in the front of the shop in the future.