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Racecar Builder Moves to Manchester

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Robert Chase, the racing team's owner, as well one of its engineers and drivers, concurs that it's a little unusual to build racecars near downtown Richmond. So what's the Manchester attraction?

"It definitely ain't the taxes," he says, chuckling. But the location does help reduce his overhead, he says. And even though Chase may be used to competing in 200-mile races, his former 22-mile round trip to work, from the city to Hanover County and back, wasn't the best use of his time.

The warehouse serves as Chase's staging ground, where he and a five-man crew (which swells to 15 during races) prepare their cars. It also houses the tractor-trailer rig that carries crew and equipment to each race.

A racecar enthusiast since 1979, Chase, 48, has been building and driving Daytona Protoypes competitively for two years and recently completed his first race series, finishing in eighth place. His team also leases cars to competing racing teams for fees that range from $85,000 to $200,000 per race, depending on the distance.

The 5-year-old racing series is gaining popularity, with cross-over interest from NASCAR drivers and fans, says Nate Siebens, a spokesman for the Grand American Road Racing Association.

With all the traveling and long hours in the shop, it's unlikely Chase will be seen much by his downtown neighbors. "It's nonstop in here," he says. "It never ends. We never get a break." — Jack Cooksey

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