LACOSTE, Texas — For most successful business owners, balancing the demands of a busy, growing company with family life is more than enough to keep them wide open. Long days, endless meetings and travel, it all adds up to a full plate.
For 52-year-old Ray Doyon III, that isn't quite enough. This highly-driven and dedicated racer, track promoter and family man is the owner of 3D Landscaping, runs I-37 Speedway, and, oh yeah, he loves to race his Late Model, as well. He won two races last year in eight starts against stiff competition.
As hard as it may be to catch up with this inspiring racer, he took time earlier this week to discuss the 2022 season at I-37, his own racing program and what fans can expect at his facility in 2023.
“I think overall it was a successful season,” Doyon said. “From a financial standpoint, the track made a little bit of money so we're able to hold onto it and keep going. I think a big reason we did so well was that we host some of the best racing in Texas. That last Late Model race we had was incredible.
“We're getting ready now for our awards banquet on January 21. We haven't had one in three years, so I'm excited to get everybody together again. The banquet builds camaraderie among racers, and it's good to gather outside the track sometimes. There's no stress, it's all fun, and we all have a great time.”
Most race fans don't know it, but Doyon had a rough go of it during his first year at I-37.
“In 2017, the first year Michael and I ran the track, I was diagnosed with Cancer,” Doyon said candidly. “I had to go through radiation treatments for about five months. I lost a lot of weight, and couldn't be at the track much. Once I got better, I returned to the oval and tried to pitch in. It was a very tough time.”
While business and the race track consume most of his time, Doyon did enjoy the races he ran in 2022.
“I'm a harsh critic of my own program,” he explained. “I'm always beating myself up when things don't go well. I want to be the best at anything I do, no matter what it is. I'm proud of those two wins, since I had never driven a Late Model before. I started with a good car, which really helps. I still love to drive.
“I started my racing career back in 1994, when my Dad was still alive, fortunately. He died that same year, so it was kind of bittersweet. I'm so thankful that he got me started in it; I've just kind of held onto the hobby because I love the sport. Racing allows me to keep him in my memory.”
With the 2023 schedule now out for I-37, plans are coming together for a busy and entertaining season.
This will be the seventh consecutive season of running I-37 Speedway for Doyon and his partner Michael Keylich. It's been a learning curve, yet they soldier on trying to refine the product each year.
“We've learned a ton along the way, that's for sure,” Doyon added. “Our biggest challenge now I feel is to shorten the programs. We still score our races by hand, but that changes in 2023. We're making the move to full electronic timing and scoring. Transponders are mandatory and have to be mounted right.
“This is something we've been needing to do for a while, but it takes an effort. We've put a man with computer skills and a working knowledge of MRP and Westhold in charge. Mike Fortier has agreed to oversee our conversion to this, and he's working on configuring new laptops for us tonight, in fact.”
Delays in the program after a caution to get cars realigned properly has been a chronic issue at tracks.
“We should be able to get guys back into position and go back to green flag racing much quicker, every time,” Doyon added. “I know from racing myself how frustrating it can be when the program drags along. We want to have our shows end earlier, so that will be our main priority in 2023.”
With last season fading into memory and plans for 2023 coming together, Doyon says the sport of short track racing in Texas is in good shape overall.
“I think we're in a good place, but I also feel there is room for improvement,” he said. “Here in our area, so close to San Antonio, we're competing against a lot of other activities for those entertainment dollars. Folks in the city have so many options; the Spurs, the Rodeo, concerts, they have choices.
“We need to reach out to some of the folks who don't know we're here, and show them how fun it can be to spend Saturday night at the dirt track. It's a great family atmosphere, but if you've never been you won't be able to relate. I think attracting new fans to our sport will help carry us into the future.”
It's obvious that this man loves I-37, loves to go racing himself and just enjoys being around the sport in general. He's worked hard to keep I-37 Speedway thriving, and still has his foot on the gas for 2023.
“We're going to make a big push with the place this year, but in 2024, I've promised my wife I'll slow down a little and spend some time traveling with her. Thing is, we recently bought a 257 acre ranch and are also busy working on fences at that property. There's just always so much work to do.
“But I've been going wide open for years, so I'll need to start slowing down a little at some point. It's hard when you love what you do. I'm blessed with a growing business, dependable workers and a great working relationship with contractors who bring me loads of work. I feel I'm blessed in many ways.”
Indeed, Ray Doyon III has a good life, but he busts his tail every day to keep it all up in the air. With 40 trucks on the road for 3D Landscaping and 100 employees, there's no time for loafing. And when he gets time to go racing or work at I-37, his smile is wide.
“That's my happy place, and it is for a lot of other folks as well,” he concluded. “Michael and I feel a responsibility to our racers and fans to keep things moving forward. I'm pretty excited about 2023.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Rachel Plant