NORMAN — When Louis and Mildred “Tootsie” Boyd opened their small machine shop in 1963, they had $500, four small children and another on the way.
“It was pretty rough going for a while,” recalls Louis Boyd, 77. But the business for decades has been filling a specific need in the machine business — a need for speed.
Boyd's Racing Engines, 1202 N Flood Ave. in Norman, will celebrate 50 years in business next week. The business makes high-performance engines that are used in drag-racing cars and some of the fastest race boats in the world.
Surviving in business for 50 years is a lot like building a good engine, Louis Boyd will say — the devil is in the details.
Treat your customers well. Pay your taxes, he said.
Louis Boyd presides over the business from a cluttered wood-paneled office off the main machine shop. The clanging and whirring from the shop drift in through the door. The walls are covered with yellowing framed photographs of his early drag race cars. He will turn 78 in November, but says he's not ready to retire.
“I still enjoy coming to work every day,” he said.
Even as a teenager, Louis Boyd was known for speed. “He had the fastest car in Hartshorne — and that was for street drag racing,” Tootsie Boyd said.
Always mechanically inclined, he learned how to drive a manual transmission when he was 12 years old by closely observing how his father shifted gears. Boyd helped restore his first car — a Model A with wood floorboards — when he was barely a teenager.
Louis Boyd raced the family car — a souped-up '55 Oldsmobile — on the local circuit before building his own roadster in the 1960s. He soon decided to open the engine shop to trade on his mechanical talents.
Reputation for speed
The shop has gained a reputation on the racing circuit for building some of the fastest engines in the region. Louis Boyd's shop has built engines for racers including Harli White, an 18-year-old sprint car driver from Lindsay who is making a name for herself on the area racing circuit. The shop also has built engines for record-breaking speed boats.
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