NORMAN — In 1963, Louis and Tootsie Boyd sold their house in Del City, liquidated their assets and opened an auto machine shop in Norman. Boyd’s Auto Machine has been building performance engines for drag racing, sprint car racing and off-shore boat racing ever since.
Now, 50 years later, they have customers from across the United States.
“We’re meticulous about our engines,” Louis Boyd said. “Longevity is very important to us. We don’t want to see an engine until the end of the season.”
Quality of craftsmanship is not the only factor that has propelled the couple to decades of success.
“Louis still has that curiosity,” Tootsie Boyd said. “We feel like we are pioneers in the state. When we got the engine dyno, it was the first one.”
The couple said they are lucky to have customers with money who are willing to turn Louis loose to “build what he wants to build.”
One customer dubbed Louis the “Guru of Speed.” Most customers just call him a friend.
“Louis has a very close relationship with all of his customers,” Tootsie said. “And he’s been a father figure to employees.”
Boyd’s Auto Machine first opened in 1963 at 127 E. Gray St., across from Norman’s city hall and police and fire departments. The city’s operations were housed in a two-story, red brick building.
“We were in a one-story brick building on the north side of the street,” Tootsie said.
The couple had met when Tootsie was still in high school.
“His sister was one of my best friends,” she said. “He was street racing. He had the fastest car in Hartshorne, Okla.”
Despite those early racing days, Louis warns that street racing can be dangerous. Cars were slower back then and there were fewer people.
“We don’t condone street racing,” he said. “That’s what the drag strips are for.”