Twelve years ago, Randy LaJoie, a two-time Busch Series champion, had an idea that turned into a dream. LaJoie began manufacturing seats for racecars, and his company, The Joie of Seating, was started. Randy has come up with a stamped, molded aluminum seat that fits 95 percent of a driver’s body that he says, “has revolutionized the aluminum seat market.”
When Randy was driving there was no one in the racing seat business who would build a seat that suited him. He wanted a custom form fitted seat, like the Mark Donahue design that Don LaJoie, Randy’s father, purchased and retro fitted to a modified car and made out of fiberglass. NASCAR outlawed fiberglass in 1992. No one in the industry would build a custom fitted seat instead of a standard square-style seat.
“To me custom fitted didn’t mean sitting on a bench; that’s why I patented a “Sizing Fixture” to accurately measure a driver,” LaJoie said. “Eastover Manufacturing does all of the forming via stampings for the only ‘really custom race seat’ on the market.
“The energy absorption is better with my seat, if you do get in a crash,” Randy continued. “It’s not only more comfortable, but I’ve done stuff with my stampings to make it very strong. I’ve learned myself, because I’ve been a crash test dummy for quite a few years, and I know I feel a whole lot better on Monday mornings since I started stiffening my seats than when I would bounce all over the place. Once you start looking at the videos from crashes, you can see how much movement you have in the car.”
In 2001, NASCAR’s attention turned towards safety for the drivers, working with manufacturers to help improve the driver’s safety system. In 2007, Randy hit the road. A “Safer Racer Tour” was created in which he went around the country preaching the value of safety to competitors and track operators.
“I am going to go to these tracks and I am going to talk about all kinds of safety issues, such as properly mounted seats and belts,” LaJoie said at the program’s outset. “I am going to stand there as these cars go through inspection. Some of these guys may not like me much. But, I’m going. When I read about somebody getting hurt or killed, it makes me sick.”
“We’ve got kid seats patterned after my kids when they were 11 years old,” said LaJoie, who has two sons, Corey and Casey, who race. “We have a lease program, because one year I had to build my 11 year old three seats because he had outgrown them.”
According to Randy, “It’s not really fair for the parents when kids outgrow the seat, they have to buy another one. With our lease program, you can trade it in for a bigger seat with minimum costs.”
These days Randy can be seen at local tracks, on ESPN, commentating a race, or you can listen to him on Sirius radio. And, of course, you can find him and his company at the Charlotte Racers Expo.