Years ago growing up in the small town of Ness City, Billy Briney never could have envisioned himself doing what he’s doing new.
Back then, it was all about oilfields and farming.
Today, though, Briney is more than happy to be pursuing a new venture in life with the opening of Briney Motorsports, 600 E. Eighth, in Hays.
“It’s always been a dream,” Briney said. “I’ve always wanted to open a store, just because I love racing and just doing that. … We kind of got lucky and just fell into the other parts business, and that’s helped us out so much. But it’s always been a dream. It’s a little bit out there for us because my background is all oilfield and farms. I didn’t know anything but that.”
Briney’s background with racing was all off-road adventures. But that quickly changed once the ball was rolling.
Then things started to fall into his new plans.
Area parts dealer Rob Skillet, who supplied dirt-track racers with parts and equipment for many years, was looking to sell out to a potential buyer. The La Crosse man found the right guy in Briney.
“The funny thing was I just decided I was going to open a store someway, somehow,” Briney said. “I was just going to do it. I knew the circle tracks here were big, and I wanted to get into that somehow. Then through some other people, I heard about this other stuff. They said this is what you need and pointed me in his direction. I went and talked to him, and he was ready to sell. I thought, ‘OK. Fair enough.’ ”
Briney and his wife, Jodi, took over Skillet’s business and hit the dirt tracks in August — just as the racing season was starting to hit the home stretch.
“It’s been a learning experience because I’ve always raced off-road,” Briney said. “The circle track is just different to me. I’ve picked up a lot, and Rob’s been great and so have all the racers.”
Now, Briney and his family are settled into the new location along Eighth Street, giving racers of all categories a place for parts and equipment. He eventually would like to see the business grow into servicing as well.
“It was an undertaking,” Briney said. “This building being vacant for about 20 years … it took a lot of work every day. From sun up to sun down, we were working on it. In August, we started going to tracks when we took over. The plan was to get out of my other job and have some time to just work on this. Well, that didn’t work out, which is good because we had income. But just working around it was an undertaking. Family has had to put up with a lot, and they’ve all pitched in and helped out. It’s been great.”
Nick Schwien is managing editor at The Hays Daily News.