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The time has come when click picRandy LaJoie has to choose between buckling himself into a race car or building seats for other drivers to buckle up in. The Norwalk native “is putting his helmet on the shelf” and will devote more time, energy and money to putting fannies in his Joie of Seating custom fitted seats that are among the strongest and safest in racing.

In 2007, Randy LaJoie, the son of five-time Danbury Racearena champion Don LaJoie announced his intentions at a press conference Saturday morning at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "I’m going on the road with my trailer and seats,” Randy LaJoie said Thursday. “I’m also going to do safety seminars. I’ve got an outstanding seat, but I’m unhappy when I see 150 cars at events and only 10 percent of them have my seat. “I wanna grow the business and the only way to do it is to make more people aware of my product. I want my seats in 50 percent of cars by the time I’m 50,” added the 45-year-old LaJoie, who said he turned down three offers to drive this season.The two-time Busch Series champion, who also has three victories in the prestigious Busch 300 at Daytona International Speedway, said he wants to teach people how to be safe in a car. “I’ve traveled to tracks across the United States and it amazes me to see the complete disregard for safety,” LaJoie said. “They have (seat) belts with a lot of slack in them, the seats aren’t bolted properly. The materials used aren’t always the best.” LaJoie has talked to NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter, safety guru Bill Simpson and others. “I’m hoping to get endorsements from NASCAR,” LaJoie said.

Two Nextel Cup drivers using his seats REALLY put them to the test in February 2007 at California.

David Reutimann took one of the hardest hits in recent years, and although badly shaken walked away from impact with a wall at close to 200 miles an hour. "He (Reutimann) called me Monday and thanked me. That is the best feeling in the world when you see a driver in your seat walk away from a hit like that,” said LaJoie. He always checks out his seats involved in hard crashes and did so Tuesday. “The seat didn’t move a lick,” said LaJoie. NASCAR has instruments that measure impact. “It was 88G’s. That means the weight of the car was over 16,800 pounds at the point of impact,” LaJoie noted. Reutimann, who turned 37 on Friday, qualified 25th for today’s Busch Series event in Mexico, but will start at the rear of the field as a result of a pre-qualifying motor change. Boris Said, another Joie of Seating customer, was collected in the Reutimann crash, but was unscathed despite extensive damage to his SoBe No Fear Ford.
LaJoie said he has already talked to several track owners about his Safety Seminars and has received positive feedback. “I’ll be at Stafford. I’ve talked to Mark and Jackie (Arute). They’re racers to the core and want competitors at their track to be safety conscious,” said LaJoie, who will be making an appearance today at Speedway EXPO being held at the Eastern States Exposition Center in Springfield, MA. He has already expanded the seat business to include monster trucks, open wheel cars  and presently is creating a seat for a competitor in off-shore boat racing. He has talked to officials of the American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) and expects to build seats for several competitors. While no retirement announcement is forthcoming, the man who began his career at age 18 at the Danbury Racearena and won championships in every series he competed in fulltime knows his business is where the major portion of income will come from.

RL: click pic for enlarged view
LaJoie and his wife Lisa have two sons and the eldest, Corey, will be racing again this season. Corey LaJoie, 15, competed in the Aaron’s Pro Series last year and won seven of 10 events in a car his grandfather, Don, provided.Son, Casey, 12, drives in the Legends Series.  Helping his sons further their careers is another reason LaJoie is cutting back on driving. “I want to get Corey in a late model this year and I want to baby sit him until he’s 18,” said the proud father. Craftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine, LaJoie’s closest friend in racing, said during a recent chat that he also wants to help further Corey’s career.

LaJoie said he hopes to have Corey, who will be 16 in September in the Busch East Series and ASA late models in 2008.As of now Corey is carrying the banner for a family that has been in racing for close to 50 years. However, Randy LaJoie still left an opening. “I’m not retiring, but I see more of my racing career out the rear window than out the windshield,” was how he put it.

     

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