Lelchook loving the fast lane

For Foresthill drag racer, burning rubber has been good for home-grown business
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Mark Lelchook has plenty of reasons to put the pedal to the floor when he’s behind the wheel of his 1969 Plymouth Barracuda. One of the Foresthill resident’s main reasons for racing is to fly the flag for his one-man business — Performance Welding. And like the old commercial says, he’s not just the owner, he’s a client. Lelchook’s reputation has grown to the point where he does not need the advertising anymore. Earlier this year at the Sacramento Raceway he broke the national record in the Stock Eliminator Division (F/SA class) in the quarter-mile with a time of 10.73 seconds and that was good for business. “That’s why being fast is so important,” Lelchook said. “It shows that my product is the best.” Lelchook designs and builds headers, mostly for drag cars, though he’s also worked on motorcycles and boats. The custom exhaust systems are highly sought after. Summit Racing stars Greg Anderson and Jason Line both use Performance Welding headers on their cars on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. “It’s high-end stuff,” Lelchook said. “It’s the exhaust system and on a competition car, that’s very important. It’s basically part of the engine.” Lelchook travels around the country each year, racing his Barracuda and finding new clients around every turn. This weekend he’s close to home. He’ll compete in the FRAM/Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. Lelchook placed eighth at last year’s NHRA Nationals and is hoping to do even better this weekend. Last weekend at the NHRA’s West Coast division competition, Lelchook placed third in the qualifying rounds, but was eliminated in the first round of head-to-head competition. While he’s won dozens of championship trophies in his racing career, Lelchook said for him, it’s not about winning. “I’m not one of the real competitive guys out there,” Lelchook said. “My primary objective is to just go fast. That’s what I get a kick out of.” Lelchook’s business is now booming, but it had humble beginnings. After moving to Auburn from Southern California, Lelchook could not find work as a fabricator, so he founded Performance Welding in 1998. “I’d go to the racetracks and do whatever I could to get work,” Lelchook said. “Now I’ve got customers all over the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia.”