Few individuals on the sprint car scene are as busy as Lynton Jeffrey. The Australian-turned-American entrepreneur can still be found winning races on the track behind the wheel of a sprint car, but he enjoys even more success through his manufacturing skills at Vortex Racing Products.
Jeffrey grew up the son of a late model racer in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Like his father who built his own cars, Lynton and brother Paul found a passion for fabrication and building a faster mousetrap.
It wasn’t long before Jeffrey was winning 85 go-kart races and moving on (and winning) in Formula Vee competition at the age of 16.
“I was lucky enough to be involved with one of my dad’s good friends, Terry Bennett,” he said. “He always made sure I had something to race.”
The Jeffrey boys’ parents made sure they got out of the house and were active. The brothers were athletes to be sure. Whether it was cricket, golf, tennis or basketball, they were involved. The youngest in the group, Lynton, honed his basketball skills to a high level.
While his family was active in racing, it did take a while for Lynton Jeffrey to catch the bug.
“There was a point where I found a love and passion for racing,” he said. “I think I enjoyed the individuality of sports like golf and tennis, and that’s why I liked racing. The challenges are within yourself and you supply your own pressure.”
Jeffrey won during a brief midget career before moving to sprint cars. It was a natural move for someone who idolized driver/builders such as Bobby Allen, Doug Wolfgang and Donnie Kreitz. The road to the United States was not paved with glory — an opportunity in California in 1998 ended before it started.
Two years later, he cobbled enough deals together to get to Iowa with a car. The “Sprint Car Capital of the World” had been on his bucket list since birth and his introduction to the facility was unique.
“I had never been to Knoxville Raceway,” he remembered. “One day, we headed to the track. I’d never actually been there. I was emotional. It had been a dream of mine to go there. We finally arrived and it was Register’s Annual Grand Bike Ride Across Iowa. It’s a big party.”
Jeffrey removed himself from the group for a time.
“I don’t know why, but I went up and sat at the top of section J or K,” he said emotionally. “It was emotional. I can still take myself back to that time now. It was a place that I had revered and I couldn’t believe that I was going to get a chance to race there.”
An offer came from Pennsylvania to race. Having been through a divorce and having a son pass away, times were dark. However, from the darkness came opportunity, including starting Vortex Racing Products with Paul. The business had been booming in Australia and the time was right to move it to the states.
Not everything was roses in Pennsylvania.
“When I got out east, the promises weren’t delivered, but the owner really tried,” Jeffrey explained. “We did get a car together. Steve Siegel had a nice car and Gary Stanton got us a motor. We worked out of (Danny) Dietrich’s shop. We got to run at Williams Grove and we were able to run well at Port Royal right out of the box.”
A chance meeting in a New Jersey diner, united Lynton with veteran racer Kevin Frey. They ran 10 times in 2001 before Jeffrey headed for the Midwest the following season. Parts were scarce, but the team scraped by. For a time, he worked for Maxim chassis in Springfield, Ill., helping Chuck Merrill with his big-rail chassis.
“I was proud to be there and that’s when people started believing I had something to offer,” Jeffrey noted.
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