In the days before the founding of Motor State Distributing, George Lane’s life was no different than that of any other “weekend warrior” drag racer. He worked at a traditional job every weekday, going home at the end of a long day to have dinner with his young family. After dinner, he went out to the garage and worked on his racecar in preparation for a long weekend of racing.
He was on a tight racing budget, and the best prices on racing parts were from mail order houses on the West Coast. A need for any new parts meant a two-week wait while they were shipped. Eventually, George located a source of reasonably priced parts closer to home, in Detroit. A six-hour round trip to Detroit and back was much better than a two-week wait. Word of his parts runs to Detroit got around, and soon George was bringing parts back, stocking his garage, and reselling to many of his racer friends.
By the early 1960’s, George’s tiny garage had evolved into a successful part-time speed shop, necessitating a move to a larger building. The evenings and weekends he used to spend on the racecar were now consumed by the burgeoning parts business. He still had his full-time job as a graphic artist, but it was starting to look like he could support himself and his family with the speed shop. He had mixed feelings. Leaving the security of a full-time job and going into business for him was a big step. After careful consideration, George made the step in 1968, never once looking back. Any doubts George might have had were soon put aside. The business not only prospered, but had to move into an even larger, newly constructed building just one year later.
While George was making the transition to full-time speed merchant, many of the larger West Coast equipment manufacturers were looking for reliable wholesale dealers to distribute their products “East of the Rockies.” Lane Automotive was just the type of business they were looking for, and soon George was buying in large volume, directly from the manufacturers. He was no longer a retail supplier, but a wholesale warehouse as well.
In 1970, Motor State Distributing was officially founded as the warehouse division of Lane Automotive, selling high performance parts to speed shops throughout the Midwest. Motor State grew steadily during the next decade, and as the business grew, so did the number of employees - and the number of additions to the buildings. By 1985 it had become apparent that a new, larger and more modern building would be need to be constructed. The building became a reality in 1988.
That new building established Motor State Distributing as a viable performance parts warehouse. The original sales force quickly doubled then tripled in size. The customer base became international in scope, with parts being shipped to all 50 states, Canada, and several overseas accounts. The next ten years at Motor State were characterized by phenomenal growth - growth that eventually rendered the relatively new building obsolete. Planning got underway for an all-new, super-size warehouse/office complex. Property was purchased, an architectural firm and a contractor were hired, and ground was broken in June 1998 for the new 153,000 square-foot home of Motor State Distributing. A little over a year later, during the first week of September 1999, the first packages were shipped from the new building.
Currently, Motor State’s work force works three shifts daily, fulfilling the high performance needs of hot rodders worldwide.
George Lane passed away on January 25, 2021.