Kaufman: Cars themselves are biggest change

MIFFLINTOWN – Keith Kauffman has seen a lot of things change in sprint car racing since his career began in 1970.

The cars are faster, but safer now than they were. Many of the parts are mass-produced now instead of being hand made like they used to be. Anybody can buy speed now, but when Kauffman started it wasn’t that way.

“Everything changes, the car owners change, the drivers change, but the sport keeps rolling right along,” said Kauffman, who is preparing to retire at the end of the season and will be honored by Port Royal Speedway Saturday. “Guys like me retire and a few younger guys step in. There have been a lot of changes over the years and most of them for the good, I think. The cars are so much safer now than what they were.”

A lot of things have changed on the cars.

“The cars are so much lighter than they used to be,” he said. “The motors run better and they’ve got more horsepower. The shocks are better, the tires are better and the cars get a hold of the racetrack so good. It’s an endless revolution of parts and pieces. Everything is better. The drivers get better, sharper. Guys got to be in shape. The whole aspect is better … cleaner, nicer, safer. It’s different. The cars kind of look the same, but it’s unbelievably different.”

When Kauffman started, things were not as equal as they are today.

“Now, you can buy everything,” he said. “Years ago, you had to make a lot of the stuff. Or find a motor builder that was a little bit better than the next motor builder. Or find a little bit better tires or a little bit better car. Now, you call a motor builder up and say I want a motor and he asks how fast do you want to go? Everybody now has one good motor.

“The racing is really tough. It’s not like it was 20 or 30 years ago. The big money teams have three or four good motors. You bought pieces. You didn’t go to a motor shop. We built our own motors. The availability of parts is probably the biggest change now.”