COLUMBIA CITY, IND. (WPTA21)-“Kids nowadays I don’t think they even care about cars,” says sprint car racer Paul Hazen. “It’s just something I wanted to do I guess.”
At 81 years old Paul Hazen moves a little slow these days. But not too long ago this slight man from Columbia City was an absolute demon. It looks like a cross between NASCAR and the soap box derby but no soap box derby car has 900 horsepower under the hood. When sprint car racing was born in 1958 Paul Hazen was there and sixty years later Paul is still tearing up the track.
“Everything was homebuilt then,” he says. “I mean you built everything. Even back then I built my own motors.”
Paul started out racing stock cars as a kid, joined the sprint car circuit in 1968 and earned a reputation as one of the winningist competitors in the Midwest. The proof lines the dusty shelves above his Columbia City garage.
“I got so many trophies around here I don’t have anyplace to put ’em anymore,” he says, “so I been letting the driver take ’em.”
Paul actually quit driving years ago and started his own racing team, building the cars and hiring drivers..he’s had more than fifty drivers work for him. Today he runs the business, builds the cars and marvels over how things have changed.
‘How expensive can this be?’ we ask. “Oh it can be as bad as you want to make it,” he says. “There’s guys out there spending fifty thousand dollars just on a motor. ‘Just on a motor?’ Just on a motor and we’re running against ’em.”
Paul survives, and wins…using a lifetime’s worth of know how, tricks and techniques to build cars younger guys don’t even know exist. And you won’t find any hi-tech stuff in his cars, no electronic ignition, no fuel injection. Just old fashioned technology that, in the right hands, still wins races. For now at least.
“It’s getting tougher you know and I’m getting tireder,” he says. “I’m sure when the time comes I’ll miss it. Probably be lost. ‘So what would your advice be to some kid who’s thinking of doing something like this?’, we ask. “Have a lot of money!”