Kryptonite Racecars make a name for themselves
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — As the temperature in the shop neared 90 degrees, Richard Gillespie finished welding pieces of metal together.
Taking off his helmet, he wiped the sweat from his brow after producing a top-notch weld.
“This is my dream job,” he said.
Even though the phrase is used sarcastically at times, Gillespie meant it.
Gillepsie works at Kryptonite Racecars, a late-model race car manufacturing company on Dupont Road. The company, which started in 2011, is owned by Freddie Carpenter and run by his two sons Chris and Tyler.
Freddie has been racing late-model cars for decades and passed the tradition down to his sons. Chris said his father had the brothers racing at 12- and 11-years old, driving four-cylinder race cars at the dirt track every weekend.
“He had to put 2-by-4s on the pedals so we could reach them,” Chris said.
“We didn’t even know how to drive a standard,” Tyler said.
As Freddie’s skills increased, he said he wanted a car to match his driving style and meet his standards. So he and his sons decided to build their own race car chassis.
“All we had was a Sawzall and a hand grinder,” Tyler said.
Freddie said the process of building the first car took a month to complete.
“We really didn’t know what we were doing,” Freddie said.
But the family learned quick and their cars began competing with nationally dominant car manufacturers on the dirt oval, drawing attention and customers to their brand. Their reputation has grown so much that they have sold their cars in 22 states and have five dealers who also sell their racing products.
“It feels really good that we’re growing,” Freddie said.
The company has hired five employees to handle the added work, but Gillespie said coming into Kryptonite every day isn’t work to him.
“They treat you like family, like an equal,” he said. “It really is my dream job to build race cars.”
That feeling is shared by Derick Hamrick, Kryptonite’s marketing, public relations and customer service agent.
“It doesn’t get any better than working around people that are like family,” he said.
Hamrick said he grew up with Chris and Tyson and has shared in their evolution in dirt track racing.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” he said. “To see where we’re at compared to where we started.”
Chris said that Kryptonite treats their customers like family, too. He said another reason his family started building their own cars is because of the lack of support they received from other car manufacturers.
“We’d call them with questions and they wouldn’t give us any real good information. They’d want us to go to one of their training courses,” he said. “At Kryptonite, we could be at the race track on the weekends racing, and if we get a call from a customer, we stop what we are doing to help them.”
David Pryor owns D and S Auto Body in Belpre and has been racing late models for the last decade. He was at Kryptonite picking up body panels for his new Kryptonite car.
“Everybody’s switching to Kryptonite, so I thought I’d jump on the band wagon,” he said. “They’re hard to beat.”
He said the company has always been there when he had a question about his new race car.
“Freddie will give you a lot of knowledge,” he said. “They help everybody.”
He said the company’s helpfulness and the most important racing necessity is what’s catching the eye of drivers like him.
“They are all about customer service and speed,” he said.
Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), http://www.newsandsentinel.com