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NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

LFR-Fury feud over Modified design credit continues on social media

Paul Lambert/STS

The debate over who deserves credit for recent success on the Whelen Modified Tour goes on and on.

After Bobby Santos won Saturday’s Musket 250 driving for Dave Sapienza, the Fury Race Cars Facebook page put up a congratulatory post.

Sapienza was unhappy with the post and commented underneath it.

““NEWS FLASH,” Sapienza wrote. “I’m a little disappointed to see a FAKE POST of our identity!!!! We are LFR !!! We will continue to be LFR. But thank you for the recognition on our win yesterday of the Musket 250.”

In a RaceDayCT article, Sapienza said he considered his car an LFR car, not a Fury car.

Grala responded to the story first with a lengthy Facebook post late on Sunday night to the Fury Race Cars page:

“Hi, this is Darius Grala (not FURY PR).

I just got off a 40 minute call with Dave Sapienza where we talked about his team winning the #NWMT #Musket250 and the Race Day CT (www.racedayct.com) article written about the win and the LFR misunderstanding that came along with it. After I explained the whole FURY/LFR backstory to Dave, he asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about putting what you just told me out there on social media?’

Truth is, I have thought about it, but always came to the conclusion that it was better to stay above the fray because most social media wars leave all sides looking less than great. But unfortunately, with all the misinformation out there right now, we can’t stay silent any longer. So here’s the whole story (hopefully in less than 40 minutes):

First, I ask you all to start by reading the short story about FURY.

Second, I’d like to give Rob Fuller credit for what he deserves. Rob is responsible for taking two brilliant car designs (that never won races) and putting them together with a team of extremely talented crew chiefs and racers, and winning at least one race with each car.

Here’s what Rob Fuller didn’t do – he didn’t ‘create’ the designs, he bought the designs from Steve Leavitt (of Leavitt Chassis) in 2014 and owned them until 2016. He doesn’t own them anymore because his company went out of business.

On August 29, 2016, Rob Fuller sold not only the designs and tooling to build both the Late Model and Modified race cars, but also all intellectual property and assets owned by LFR Chassis Inc, LFR Driver Development Group LLC and Rob Fuller Motorsports LLC to FURY Race Cars. The only things that Rob Fuller kept were the name ‘LFR’ and the carpets embroidered with the LFR logo. He then shut those companies down and started a new company named LFR Enterprises based in Massachusetts. LFR Enterprises has the right to create ‘LFR’ stickers, but does NOT have the right to create an ‘LFR’ chassis or any component or replacement part for an ‘LFR’ chassis.

In early 2017, LFR Enterprises became a dealer for the FURY Model M race car (which was formerly known as the LFR Modified). Every single car that Rob Fuller sold in the last three years was built with a FURY serial number and branding on it. Unbeknownst to us (until recently), Rob Fuller would cut out, grind off, or somehow cover up our branding on the cars (see an example in photos) which left some customers and fans with the false impression that LFR Chassis was still in business and that FURY was a contract manufacturer. This is the primary reason we terminated LFR as a dealer. FURY was never a contract manufacturer for LFR, nor was any other manufacturer a legal manufacturer of LFR replacement parts because we own the design rights to all proprietary parts of an LFR car, and any company that would want to build those parts would require our permission to do so.

Now, about this weekend…

Why do we take credit when an ‘LFR’ car wins a race? Because we built the car. Or if it was built before August of 2016, we own the design rights to that car. But even those old cars, they were still built by the same people that work at FURY today, so those people are still proud of that. Do we think that we deserve all the credit? Heck no! The team owner probably deserves most of the credit for putting the car on the track, then there’s the driver, crew chief, the crew, engine builder, shock builder, and countless other suppliers who deserve some credit for the win – we are just one of the ‘pieces’ that contributed to the win.

Also, when we take credit, we by no means want to take credit away from anyone else. If LFR sold the car, or did the setup on the car, they certainly should take credit for that contribution. And on the winning car this weekend they did both, so they deserve the credit for that. But since FURY built that car, we feel we deserve credit for that contribution.

If anyone has any serious questions that I didn’t answer, feel free to ask in the comments. But please don’t turn this into any more of a circus than it already is. All this negative press is making everyone involved seem somewhat foolish, and our sport and our fans deserve better than that.”

COMPLETE WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR COVERAGE

Early on Monday morning, LFR had responded with a Facebook post of its own:

“While we are not going to write a desperate story, we will gladly respond as we are forced into a social media circus. For someone outside the Modified industry to come along and not only try to take credit for what our teams are accomplishing, but also remove me as the designer of the LFR Chassis is pathetic. In 2014 I worked with Steve Leavitt to design the LFR Chassis. I had countless hours and spent a ton of money on R&D with Burt Myers and Todd Szegedy. We had several failures, but we always learned and redesigned parts to go back to the drawing board. In 10 months’ time, we were happy with the design and went into production, so to try and discredit that is just not right and redefines the word ‘arrogant.’ Many people in the Modified garage area witnessed this, so these are facts.

It has been no secret who was manufacturing the chassis for LFR that we sold after 2016, so to say that we were misleading teams is another outright lie. In effort to promote our brand, we were placing our logo wherever possible. The Fury logo on the crossmember was a recent change, so not all chassis had that. In fact, we spoke to Tony Jr. about placing our LFR logo in the crossmember in the referred to picture, being that was a LFR redesign showing two lower pick-up points in the crossmember.

We all know the LFR Chassis is a Troyer knock-off. There is no IP to purchase. The legal definition of IP is any trademark, copyright or patent referring to a specific design. There are none. There is a confidentiality clause in the Asset Purchase so we legally can not go into details but there is no legal IP or non-compete.

To say we can not manufacture parts is also false. We can manufacture Spafco parts if we wanted to, but out of respect to them, we do not, so that is also a lie.

We had a plan to execute a respectful company purchase in the beginning with a company called ‘LFR cars.’ This left me with a minority interest and kept me involved at a support and consultant level. The direction was changed and the decision to start over with Fury was made. This left LFR with a large debt, but we still owned our brand. The debt was paid and the rebuild of the brand began. The last lie we will touch on is that LFR was ‘dropped’ as a Fury dealer. If we were a Fury dealer, why were we never spoke of in their LOUD social media stage? We were having major success and not one word or post? Strange. The very first phone call I made before purchasing Troyer was to Darius. I spent several weeks redesigning our front clip and made changes throughout the Chassis. I also redesigned the fixtures for them to eliminate their expense, and they delivered the first chassis with their logo in it. I asked if we could somehow work together to have a clear cut plan to ensure that both brands stayed strong and he responded that anything he manufactures, no matter who designed it, would be called Fury and he would own it. I went into Troyer’s and signed the papers. I refuse to work the hours I do, implement the knowledge I have, spend time with teams EVERY weekend, all to promote someone else’s brand. I might be selfish, but I refuse to do that.

The Troyer purchase was done the correct way. The assets were purchased as well as the company rights. This IS NOT the case with the Fury-LFR purchase. Troyer does in fact own IP. There are trade marks and designs that were purchased. The debt was paid off and Billy remained on board. This is the correct way to conduct a business acquisition.

The Fury spoiler brace is a Troyer brace with their name on it. Fact. Troyer does not have a patent on this part so there is nothing that can be done. IP is difficult. When a IP purchase is made, there are several pages describing the actual IP. Usually, the original designer is the brain behind the design, so you want to take extra time and conduct due diligence to make sure there is clarity on the matter and design being purchased. In this case one sentence is nowhere near enough description. I am not a lawyer (neither is Darius) but I have several great ones that are advising along the way. I have enough going on in life and do not need distractions, so in effort to stay the course and remain focused on my customers and the LFR brand, I have been consulting with layers in Boston and Charlotte to insure what I do and say is correct. At some point all these posts will be printed and addresses on a higher, more educated level. That I promise.

When the dust all settles, folks will remain loyal to the companies and people that are loyal to them and help them succeed as a team. There are no design rights to any chassis, other than the TA2, which we purchased. LEGALLY. This industry moves too fast to make patents worthwhile. Since 2015 we have implemented over 40 design changes at LFR, and will continue to evolve.

LFR Chassis manufactured Chassis 001-052. We did not sell a time machine to Fury which would have been the only way to change that.
Lastly I would like to apologize. This is embarrassing for us, and it should be more for them, as they are the ones firing off desperate comments and embarrassing SM posts (and remove all the comments that they don’t want folks to read) that we are left answering to. If you purchased a LFR, Spafco, Raceworks or ANY other chassis YOU own it and YOU are responsible for its success and YOU can call it ANYTHING you want! We would never try to take that away for any reason what so ever. We just enjoy helping out where and when we can and love being a part of the Modified family. We have been involved with the Modifieds for over 30 years and look forward to the next 30 years with the LFR and Troyer brands combined!
#letsjustrace

COMMENTARY: Sapienze and Santos end tumultuous season on high

What happens next isn’t known, but it wouldn’t be a shock to anybody at this point if the back-and-forth between these two companies continues for the foreseeable future.

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Paul Lambert is an aspiring collegiate journalist. A writer and broadcaster, Paul's excited to cover New England short track racing in 2019. Paul has also been published in Speedway Illustrated and on Autoweek.com.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. jack jensen

    September 24, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Where does Southern driver Brian Lofton’s front end design fit into this?

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