Chautauqua Star

Maloy Still A Winner Three Decades After Hitting Track

For the 34th season, Rod Maloy of Panama can be found every Saturday night behind the wheel at Stateline Speedway.

But his time at the track goes well beyond simply spent years as a competitor.

“I’ve always lived around the corner from Stateline and growing up I was there every Saturday night,” Maloy said. “I found an old clunker and that’s how it began.”

Maloy began as a driver in the spectator diviwsion in 1976 and worked his way up to the top of the Stateline heap. Though thought by many as always a late model driver, Maloy didn’t begin racing in the top division until the 1990 season. Maloy has driven just about everything on wheels down through the years at the track.

“It costs a lot of money to run the late model class, and I was never able to do that in prior years,” he said.

Starting out, it was all about following in the footsteps of some of Stateline’s biggest names from the era.

“There was Timmy Johnson, Bobby Schnars and Ron Blackmer. They’re the names that are always mentioned because of their notoriety and how good they were – and the sportsmanship they had on the track,” he said.

Maloy has done just about everything there is to do at the track locally. In recent seasons, he’d starting thinking about hanging up the driver’s helmet, placing a “for sale” sign on the side of his race car.

“I’ve done it long enough that I’ve tried to get out of the sport the last couple of years,” he said. “I’ve tried to sell my equipment but that hasn’t developed so I continue coming back.”

Not only has he kept coming back, but Maloy has continued to be one of the men to beat in the late models.

“I had a really good year last year – won a lot of races and contended for a lot of feature wins and that’s a fortunate position to be in,” he said. “It makes you want to come back. If the desire isn’t there, there isn’t any sense in doing it.”

Not one to keep his own stats, there’s one win that stands out over the many he’s racked up over the years. A 100-lap victory at Stateline leaves its mark in Maloy’s memory.

“A few years back, it was a $7000 to win 100-lap race. I had just gotten a new type of chassis at the beginning of that year and it hadn’t been working all that well,” he said. “For some reason, I clicked on something that night, There was some bad luck involved for a couple of other guys that got flat tires, but in the end, when you’re holding the checkered flag, it doesn’t really matter.”

Sometimes the racing gods owe a driver a break, though. Maloy remembers when he was on the other side of a bad racing break.

“I remember leading a race and spinning out on the last lap in the last corner,” he recalled. “That was way back in the sportsman days, but you talk about embarrassing. You just want to go in the corner and hide from everybody after you do something that stupid. I did it all on my own. I had no one to blame but myself.”

After considering retirement last year, Maloy made a late decision to enter again in 2009. as a result, his car was fairly bare of sponsorship. A strong season a year ago and a plan to drive the full season from the outset, landed him a few extra decals on his No. 78 late model this season – longtime partner Craiger Race Engines is back along with the Rowdy Rooster Restaurant, Crandall Nyweide Law Offices, Goldberg Plumbing and Heating and Green Star Automotive.

For the most part a one-man operation, Maloy does all of his own repairs on the car during the week. He has long been able to run up front despite a short budget.

“There’s a couple of guys at Stateline that have the backing to spend whatever it takes, but 70 to 80 percent of the guys are on a limited budget,” he said. “Unfortunately, I happen to be one of them.”

Budgets are one of the big changes he has seen in racing over the years. The technological explosion in racing over the years has blown up the cost of the sport.

“Technology has changed everything,” he said. “It’s tremendous. Probably the worst part of the change is what it costs to race nowadays. It’s out of control.”

The one thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the support structure at the track. Racing has always run in families, and the friends and fans met at the track often become another extended family.

“I’ve been racing 30 years and if it wasn’t for the support of people I surely wouldn’t be doing it,” Maloy said. “People don’t understand how much time is involved in racing; you sacrifice so much. Without the support of your family, a lot of these race teams would disappear.”

Another thing that has stayed the same throughout the years is Maloy’s desire to win.

“I’ve had a few dry spells and there’s nothing better than when you win a feature,” he said. “When you go around with the checkered flag in your hand and you look up at the stands and see people clapping, there just isn’t anything better.”

Maloy taking a victory lap around the track is a familiar sight at Stateline – and the one the veteran would like to repeat often this summer.

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