But cash was needed for souping up engines, mechanical and body repairs – it all adds up, fast. "We did the drag racing thing, but we didn't have any money so we couldn't do it big time."
Hayes kept working, this time for the now-defunct Gamble-Skogmo retail store chain, and learned about selling and installing carpet, honing his sales skills, all to finance his love of drag racing. After two years running a carpet store, "I went down to the bank, borrowed some money and opened my own carpet store." But his love for cars, for high-speed drag racing, wouldn't let him go. While vending and laying carpet, Hayes unofficially began to deal in cars, buying them, fixing them, selling them, anything to make a buck and keep the drag engines roaring.
"I opened a car lot across the street from the carpet store, mainly to support my race car habit. I had a friend who was a mechanic (he worked for a local gas station) while we were running race cars on the track. "I had been dabbling in cars and he was a good mechanic. When he lost his job, I was about to lose my mechanic, so I said, 'How about I rent the building across the street, we buy some cars, sell them, make enough money to support you and you can keep my race cars on the race track?'"
It was the beginning of his first partnership. "In those days, we would buy a car for $50 or $100 to maybe $1,000, do some fixing up on it and put it out for sale. Next thing you know, we had two, eventually we got up to three, and at one time, we thought we were in hog heaven with four cars on the lot!" Today, Hayes still has a business selling and installing carpet and, on an average day, his dealership has 140 cars on the lot.