Thousands of local residents have 538 Two Notch Road as part of their year-to-year travel plans, and it’s extremely familiar territory for Chad Ingram, known in large part for his role as chairman of the Aiken training track.
Ingram and Bill Gutfarb, the track president, help oversee approximately 78 acres of prime equestrian territory, with an overall facility dating back months before the United States entered World War II.
Some of the big names of the day included William B. Wood, F. S. von Stade, and Devereux Milburn, all joining forces and leading to the track being chartered on May 6, 1941, with G. H. “Pete” Bostwick as president; von Stade, vice-president; Wood, secretary/treasurer; and Norm E. Cullen, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer.
More than 80 years later, Ingram uses his business background to help keep horses running and a mile-long field in gallop-worthy condition. He and his wife, Mandy, live close to the track, just across the road.
The busiest time of the year is also approaching, with the 2022 Aiken Trials scheduled for March 19 and the Aiken Training Track as the host site. This year’s event represents a rebound, as the 2021 competition was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I really wouldn’t consider myself a horse person,” Ingram said. “My wife loves horses and I’m more of a business background, so I try to help Aiken Training Track by supporting whatever I can do to help the business side of things and guide it towards sustainability. . to come up.
“I get pleasure from trying to help the organization…to help improve it a bit, to fix the problems, to solve the problems that arise, and everyone who is involved is involved in it for a good reason. , so it was They don’t have to be involved in the track. They’re involved in the track because they want to help it. They don’t do it for a paycheck.
Gas and convenience store paychecks have played a major role in the history of Ingram’s family, which includes the Kent’s Korner chain of businesses that dotted Aiken County decades ago. Barney Garvin, one of Ingram’s great uncles, started the process through Garvin Oil Company.
Growth eventually meant Ingram, a Savannah native, moved to New Holland to spend most of his childhood there, as the family business needed everyone on deck.
Garvin, Ingram recalled, “had, I think, two full-service stations—one at Wagener and one at Salley—and there was also a store at Williston.”
“My dad moved back to New Holland, to be with his uncle, basically, for the winter of his life, and started helping with the business, and then decided to not only help my uncle with his business, but to start his own business, and it was the convenience stores, and it was the Kent’s Korners.”
The chain started in Williston in the mid-1970s, said Ingram, whose parents are Kent and Phyllis, and they ended up sending their son, for high school, to King Academy, “between Batesburg and Saluda”. followed by an acquaintance with Clarke County, Georgia, as part of a successful pursuit of an English degree from the University of Georgia.
Back in County Aiken, the decision was finally made to offer Kent’s Korner stores for sale, and the locations were divided among a variety of buyers, with Circle K and Brabham Oil (eventually leading to some facilities Enmarket) into the mix.
The family now spans several hundred miles, with Ingram’s eldest son, Colt, attending Monmouth University in New Jersey on a golf scholarship and racking up honors in pursuit of a career in business. The youngest son, Winston, is just across the border, a sophomore at Westminster, Augusta.
Back on the home front, the challenge of maintaining a training facility is considerable, with the racing industry “not…thriving like it once was,” in Ingram’s estimation.
Cary Frommer, he said, is among the most frequent users of the Aiken practice track, with dozens of horses being part of the track’s four-legged population.
The colder months mean prime time for the track — “between Thanksgiving and the Masters,” as Ingram put it. Over the past few summers, two trainers have decided to keep their horses in Aiken, rather than retreat to cooler surroundings, so the track has remained open.
“It can be like 25 horses, at most – 15 to 25 – in the summer… They basically train from daybreak until noon.”
He also offered a description of the facility. “It’s called sandy loam, which is basically the sole. It’s a sandy loam track, and that’s really where we hang our hats here,” he said. “It may be one of the best in the country.
“Our board is made up of all volunteers, and it takes a lot of time,” he said. “I hang out with people at the Aiken practice track, and you might find me once or twice a week at the Track Kitchen, and maybe at the Palmetto Golf Club. I’m there in the evenings, usually, to do a little contest putting with someone.”
While much of Ingram’s daily attention is focused on horses moving over 30 miles per hour, he personally enjoys moving much faster hundreds of feet above the ground.
“Flying is…a lifelong hobby,” he said. “I like going to golf tournaments with my eldest son – junior golf. It’s over now, but we went to a lot of junior golf tournaments, like father-son trips, and then I play golf too.”
His vehicles of choice include a Piper J-3 Cub, a 1966 Mooney and an Aerostar, with trips normally based at Aiken Airport, he said.
“I’m also qualified for helicopters, but I don’t fly them much anymore,” he said.
Gutfarb, one of Ingram’s most frequent collaborators, described him as thoughtful, calm, quick to respond to inquiries, and generous in providing office space for track-related meetings.
Ingram’s roles also include a place on the Aiken Equine Committee, which exists to advise “Aiken Town Council on matters affecting the Aiken equine community”.
The committee also includes Jack Wetzel, Courtney Conger, Brooke Thomas, Tara Bostwick, Deborah Taussig-Boehner, Susan Trotter, Dr. Lisa Handy, Lela Wulf and Sarah G. Widasin.