'There's Nothing Better': Competitive Drive Draws Student to Dirt Tracks
Twenty-three-year-old Coleby V. Frye has been racing cars for more than seven years. And he's been building them even longer.
Frye fabricated 13 race cars this year - three that he will drive and 10 for customers - and plans to run about 50 late-model dirt-track races this year. Also a full-time student in Penn College's welding and fabrication engineering technology major, the Dover resident returns home immediately after his last class each week to devote his time to Fryeco Motor Sports before returning to Williamsport for Monday classes.
"It's typical to put in a 40-hour weekend," he said in May, just a few weeks into the 2008 racing season. "It's not unordinary to miss a night's sleep. For the past month and a half, I haven't slept on Friday night."
His father, who owns a "speed shop" that sells equipment and parts, taught him about sheet-metal work. Frye also took machining courses at York County School of Technology, where he attended high school, placing third in SkillsUSA competition. While he currently works with a welder, his welding degree will help him take on more of those tasks.
While fabricating cars for his growing customer base demands his time during the winter, a weekend during the racing season often includes racing Friday and Saturday, then waking up Sunday to clean the equipment and put it away.
Not one to idle, Frye often boosts his schedule to between 80 and 100 hours during summer. But this summer, he decided to bolster his resume by taking on a full-time welding job at York Haven Fabricators.
"I just never stop," he said. "I've got to keep moving."
His hope is to race professionally after earning his bachelor's degree - which he plans to do in May. His father, who as a car owner holds 200 wins and a handful of track championships, introduced him to motorsports, but Frye's competitive drive continues to draw him to auto racing, which he says no other sport can equal.
"I've played pretty much every competitive sport," he said. "Competition-wise, (during a race) you're out there against 24 other teams, and everyone is going for the same thing. Everyone's out there to win. It's a team sport, sort of, but when you get out there, it's on you. There's nothing better than to beat them."
Among his other sports endeavors, Frye played on Penn College's 2006 and 2007 conference champion men's soccer teams.
Frye participates this season in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Series, which features short-track events in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. He also plans to drive in events of two national circuits - the Lucas Oil Series and the World of Outlaws Series - when they are "in the area," including the World of Outlaws World Finals at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., an event televised nationally on the Speed channel.
Many of the drivers in the national series, as well as MACS, race professionally. "I feel we can definitely run with these guys," Frye said. "I think we can be in the Top 10. They are the best in the country. They're elite. They are tough to beat. You're not going to get any better competition."
Among his goals this season are to win multiple features and to finish in the top five consistently. He believes he has built a good car, and his results will come down to his driving experience. As of July, Frye was ranked fourth in points for MACS and first in points among eight drivers in contention for the MACS Rookie of the Year title.
The 2008 racing season will continue into October, well after Frye's Fall 2008 classes start, and while some may feel stretched a little thin, he is simply spending his time in a pursuit he loves.
"It's not really a hobby anymore. It's just my life, I guess," he said.