World globe trotter Bo LeMastus jammin' the jukebox...chasin' the racin'
World globe trotter Bo LeMastus jammin' the jukebox...chasin' the racin'
(TOLEDO, Ohio – February 23, 2015) – Louisville, Kentucky’s Bo LeMastus is so pumped up, he can hardly sleep at night.
“I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning,” LeMastus said. “I’ve got three things on my mind the second I wake up…family, work, and this ARCA burn. It’s all really good energy…then I just apply it.”
No doubt he’s applying all that ‘good energy’ through a never-ending real-life stream…because it takes a whole heap of that energy to keep up with his schedule. LeMastus, in addition to his pursuit of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is also the Chairman and CEO of Crosley. When he’s not chasing ARCA, he’s often globe-trotting around the planet on business trips. It’s a careful mix of work and play, but LeMastus would have it no other way.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the future. It all fits right into our company motto…’yesterday, today and tomorrow.’”
The ‘yesterday’ part is a reference to the vintage-inspired Crosley brand, which utilizes a classic retro look for radios, jukeboxes, turntables, telephones and other electrified things, all equipped with modern-day technological guts inside.
“Crosley Radio is vintage inspired electronics. So, by that, it all looks like it came from back in the day…maybe from the 40s, 50s, 60s, but it’s all state-of-the-art electronics. We do jukeboxes, old telephones, payphones, turntables, record players and more. All vintage. Retro is kind of a hot thing.”
The business takes him to Asia a handful of times a year, far away from the American stock car scene.
“I’ve got to make three or four trips a year, and that kind of cuts into the playtime but that’s what pays the bills. I usually do 10 days to two weeks each trip.
“I’ve been there (Crosley) about 31 years. Fresh out of college, that’s where I went. I did an internship. Lots of things transpired in between, but eventually I had a chance to work into management…and eventually ownership. It’s been a good go.
“Everything we make is made in China. Everything’s from Asia. You wish you could make it here, but you just can’t do it. Cost-effectively, you’ve got to be there.”
LeMastus, who turned 52 in early January, is not your typical ARCA racer. After a career racing motorcycles, LeMastus, four years ago, decided it was time to give stock car racing a try. Without an abundance of knowledge about the sport, he forged a relationship with Daytona 500 champion Geoff Bodine, who’s helped LeMastus find his stock car legs.
“My whole background was motorcycles…then five years ago I started doing some SCCA road course stuff. At the time, I was working with a crew chief that used to work with Geoff (Bodine) in NASCAR. He got me Geoff’s number and we hit it off instantly. We met down at New Smyrna Speedway a couple years ago right before the ARCA test at Daytona. I tested a short-track car, and then we got approved at the Daytona test. We developed a great friendship.
“I had never been around an oval in my life before my Daytona test…never raced in a circle other than high school track.”
LeMastus made his ARCA Racing Series debut at Daytona in 2013, finishing 16th, the last car on the lead lap. In his most recent attempt – the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona in 2015 – he finished 23rd, also on the lead lap. While he’s getting his superspeedway legs in place, he admits he needs to work on his short-track program to be effective for the full pull.
“One of my goals is to keep working on the short-tracks. I’m going down to New Smyrna sometime next week to help get ready for Mobile. I’ve been a smidge too aggressive on the short-tracks. I need more track time…play with it more, and learn.
“With all the laps I have on the speedways now, I’m not sweating that so much. I’m so much more comfortable in the car, and my capacity to handle it is much better. I find myself racing more intuitively on the speedways now…I gotta get that to the short-tracks. At any rate, I’m really committed to getting me sharp on these short-tracks.”
Despite the distance between his mentor, his coach Geoff Bodine, they watch races together…virtually.
“Geoff and I Skype a lot during live races. We just sit there and look at each other…talk about everything going on. We’re literally connected at the table with the same race…I’m here in Louisville…he’s in Florida. It’s wonderful. The experience is really insightful. He can tell you what the crew chief is thinking before they even know...it’s funny.”
LeMastus announced earlier in the year that he was stepping up his ARCA program in 2015, and as things continue to evolve, that could mean running the entire 20-race schedule.
“We’ve got a plan in place to run all of them…we’re still sorting through some things, but we’d like to try it. That could change based on my schedule…we’ll see. I’ve got a company to be concerned with that pays for all my playtime, so I have to be realistic. I guess you could say we’re tiptoeing into a full schedule. The employees get a little nervous when the boss is gone all the time. We’ve certainly got everything we need…12 cars, the hauler…we own everything. We’re set up for a three-year program.”
Danny Glad, who was once Bodine’s engine builder, serves the team as crew chief.
“We’re partnered with Danny Glad. Danny and Geoff go way back. When Alan Kulwicki got killed, Bodine turned around and bought all those assets from the Kulwicki family, and then he hired Danny Glad. Then they won Daytona. Glad and Bodine really hit it off, hand in glove. Watching Geoff and Danny reconnect is really cool…priceless. There’s such a respect between the two. Whatever each other said, the other was listening.”
The shop for Team Crosley is located in Stuart, Virginia where Glad lives and prepares the cars. The shop is next door to the Wood Brothers.
“We’re in a much better situation now than we were when we first came into ARCA. I can’t wait to run those dirt races at Springfield and DuQuoin. I have an AMA (motorcycle) flat-track team that’s been running twice a year for the last four years at Springfield, so I’m looking forward to going there with our stock car.”
In fact, LeMastus’s introduction to Daytona initially was on two wheels, rather than four.
“I remember the first time I went to Daytona…raced the supercross there in ’86 and ’87, and then in 2003 and 2004, I raced the superbikes. It was such a thrill to be at Daytona, and the more you keep staring at the banking there, you start to get the bug to try it in a stock car. After racing bikes there, I finally said to myself, ‘I can do this’.
“Daytona’s a special place, and I’d say the same about Indianapolis. I ran a road course at Indy last year. There are probably two places that give you that special feeling, and for me, that’s Daytona and Indianapolis. Those places make you feel small…you think about all the guys who raced there, and how fortunate you are to be there.
“I couldn’t do this without Geoff’s commitment. He’s shaken the car down several times, which really helps to find out where the car’s at. He shook it down at Salem a couple years ago. He loved it. He’s got the feel. I don’t have enough laps in me. Geoff’s got the feel, but it took all those years to develop that.
“That’s what ARCA’s all about. You’re learning that seat-of-the-pants feel. Every time I get in the car, I’m learning. And every time I climb out, I’m yearning for that next time when I can do it again. I found out that oval track racing is flat out all the way around, unlike road course racing, which has more of a flow-feel to it. There’s no such thing as resting or taking it easy when you’re wide open at Daytona.”
In the meantime, LeMastus is wide open with his Crosley brand.
“Next week, I’m going to England. We just purchased two ARCA Ilmor 396 engines, so we’re completely bought-in to our ARCA program. I’m going on a jukebox business trip to England, so while I’m there, I’m going to take a tour of Ilmor’s headquarters. I can’t wait.”