The Modified racing world lost a legend on Thursday. Maynard Troyer passed away at the age of 79.
Troyer’s impact on Modified racing, both as a driver and as a car builder, is hard to quantify, but it can be seen in just about every current Modified race held, whether on asphalt or on the dirt.
“When you say Troyer, the first thing you think of is an asphalt Modified. The names are synonymous,” said Joe Skotnicki, the owner of the Race of Champions Aspahlt and Dirt Modified Series.
Maynard Troyer was born in Ohio, but raised in New York. Troyer won his first race in 1958 driving a 1949 Ford that he turned into a race car after buying it for $50.
Troyer won four Modified track championships as a driver at New York’s Lancaster National Speedway. He also won three straight Spring Sizzlers at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway from 1977-79.
Troyer opened Troyer Race Cars in 1977 and eventually retired from driving in 1982. Troyer Race Cars has since become one of the leading chassis suppliers in asphalt and dirt Modified racing. His cars can be found on paved tracks and dirt tracks all over the east coast, driven by some of the best drivers in Modified racing.
2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece races a Troyer chassis for car owner Eddie Partridge. For the last few years, his car has been stylized after Troyer’s famous designs.
“We run the paint scheme because of his legacy,” Preece said. “He had a huge impact on Modified racing. He developed that race car and it’s developed into what it is today.”
Skotnicki said that the current RoC logo is also meant as a tribute to Troyer.
“When we did our logo, the orange is for Richie Evans, and the checkered flag comes from the six on Maynard,” Skotnicki said. “We had a professional designer do it and I sent her a picture of the six with the flags on the side and that’s what she came up with. The influence that those guys had is even reflected in that logo because we thought it was important to carry it on.”
One person that Troyer had a large impact on was five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, Tony Hirschman. The Pennsylvania native said Troyer was one of his idols when he got into racing.
“When I was growing up, even before I started racing just looking through all of the racing papers all the time and following the Modified racing, he was the guy that was my favorite,” Hirschman explained. “The cars, the looks of his cars. I idolized Evans and Cook and those guys, but Maynard was my guy that I always looked up to. He won a lot of races and at the end of a lot of those seasons he’d sell his car off and build something better.”
Hirschman, a long-time Troyer Race Cars dealer, said he first got to drive a Troyer car at the end of the 1978 season.
“It was his son’s car, Kenny Troyer’s. We went up to look at it. It was at his shop when he was just getting into the chassis business. I ended up buying it and I was the first guy in Pennsylvania to own a Troyer car. That was for like a year or two before they all caught on and a lot of other guys started buying them once he went into production.”
Hirschman said that he eventually developed a “really good” relationship with Troyer as the years went by.
“From day one when I bought that car he was always good to me. I was just a small-buck guy and he tried to help me out. He had an experimental car and he had a bunch of guys drive it. I was really honored when I got to drive it. I got to drive it at Pocono on the three-quarter mile and at Martinsville. We really got along really well. I’m just thankful for what he did for me.”
When asked how they would describe Troyer’s legacy, Preece, Hirschman and Skotnicki all used the same word: Innovator.
“He was an innovator, along with other people that worked with him,” said Preece. “They had a vision for how a race car should work. Without guys like him and Art Barry and any chassis developers, I don’t think we’d be where we are today with Modifieds and have the continued development. They started the whole process about the way people think race cars should work.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: MoJo Photos