I feel it is time for some truth and expectations. For the new guys who are going to take a stab at this crazy culture we call Race Cars, for the guys who had a good season, for the guys who had a shit season.
Now, full disclosure: my interest in owning my company is to see everyone kick ass (atleast my customers, the rest of you are on your own), set their own PB, maybe set a world record for their combo, win races. I have news for you. If THOSE are your goals, its gonna f*cking suck long before you get to experience the satisfaction of any of the above.
The fact is that you have to EXPECT shit to go wrong. Like reallllly embrace it. When I build a car I know that we are gonna run into a certain number of hurdles (some more than others). From startup to going down the track trying to get this new car to run, you just know no matter how good you are or what you do you'll find a weak link, an underperforming part, an idea that didn't pan out. So personally when I fire up a new combo or get ready to start running it, I try to switch gears in my brain to "lets find the f*cked up stuff so we can get to racing sooner". This allows me to not dwell on and get pissed at the stuff that goes wrong but be prepared for it. The sooner you get through that, the sooner you get to the fun stuff. Side note: I have spent many days at the track where I back the car out of the trailer thinking I'm gonna race and end up pulling a transmission in a lack luster environment, no tools, or realize electronics aren't working properly, those are the days that make a guy wanna take up golf. And these are the days many wash out.
The reality of all of this is even if you do everything right, or think you did, you are absolutely 100% gonna find something that wasn't assembled correctly, that you overlooked, that was just a faulty part, or guess what that used part you bought to save a few bucks? Yep its gonna bite you right square in the rearend. This is where people start to drop like flies. But the fun hasn't yet started.
You start making passes and realize, man this converter SUCKS even though so and so thought it was gonna be great. Or this camshaft is NOT what we needed, or damn't we ran out of gear, or damn't I bought a budget transmission and this thing wasn't dyno tested and flowed and pushed the converter into the crank and wiped out a thrust. My all time favorite "my transmission puked its guts out and now I have to pull it out and have it rebuilt". Every billy bob can rebuild a th400 or a powerglide. But I digress.
I always tell people "you think building a car is expensive, wait til you start racing, you haven't seen anything yet". The truth is, the addiction becomes strong, and if you are an overly competitive maniac like myself you can't help yourself. If you watch the good guys they almost feed off the bad stuff that happens to them, it doesn't even begin to make them wanna quit. They laugh, have a smile on their face, this look of determination and a crazy sick sense of "we are gonna show the world".
Stevie Fast. That guy is by FAR the hardest working and most determined SOB I have ever witnessed. He almost seems to enjoy breaking shit because he learns from it and gets better. This may be cheesy but he's like that one alloy terminator character off the movie series, you cut his arm off he comes back stronger and better. The guy will literally scatter parts and laugh about it, put a better combo back together and come back faster than before. I remember years ago he had a transmission line blow off down track, sent his beautiful orange car into both walls, tore the whole hotrod up. He had the car back racing like 6 weeks later and dominated with it. Most of us woulda quit.
Dwayne Mills blows his Golden Gorilla Camaro over, almost nothing left. The car gets rebuilt in a short amount of time and to this day is arguably the most dominant car in the sport.
Another example is our customer Johnathan Capizzi. This guy holds the world record for the fastest SBE motor (I don't acknowledge the other record, thats not even close to comparable). Johnathan has this lightning fast SBE LS mustang that is miles ahead of anyone around him. I swear I get the most calls a week of people telling me they're gonna do what he does. And I chuckle. What most people don't realize is how many parts Johnathan has torn up to get where hes at. There is NOTHING inexpensive about what he does, don't let the stock bottom end catch phrase fool you. Also, none of it is luck. If you talk to this guy you immediately realize how much time he spends perfecting his craft, how intricate his knowledge is of everything. Just an all around smart guy.
A good friend of mine who I'll name nameless got his car running this year and literally wiped like 4 crankshafts out, had every possible problem known to man. He like the rest of us is a normal guy. But as soon as he would fix one problem he would develop another. But.... he worked through each one and learned each time. To be honest, most men woulda quit, I didn't think he had it in him. He put a 5th crankshaft in that thing and after learning the hardway countless times he finally had a working setup and then proceeded to absolutely donkey stomp people all year (mind you this was his first big project).
The main component of all of the people above is they all succeeded. The second thing they share in common is that they all coulda quit about 20 times (or more). But the failures brought them to their success. Its like a key component of success is first failing. Believe me everytime I build a new combo I think to myself, boy I should know all the failure points ahead of time and be good to go. Wrong....
So the argument I always hear is "But Doug, so and so has a new combo out this year and it only took them 2 months to get the car running x.xx". Two things here. Number one what you don't realize is that person is probably sick in the head like me. When we put my Nova together this year, I spent a couple months straight putting in 8-10 hour days on the car while also working all day running Motion. I was fortunate to have the help of good friends from time to time. But it SUCKED. I slept on the couch at the shop on multiple occasions and hated everything about it. And I'm not the only one like this. This basically takes months of half engaged working on a project and fast forwards it. You're gonna put a similar amount of time into something working the bugs out, its your choice whether you spread that across weeks or days.
The video on 1320 of my car starting 2 days before Drag Week, finishing Drag Week and then a few weeks later doesn't begin to really document how much it all sucked. In that time we spent the entire time leading up to Drag Week on no sleep working in parking lots til 3 or 4 in the morning. We sucked in front of thousands of people watching us (you know how embarrassing it is to go 18 seconds down the track with a parachute on the car and then drive 7 hours to the next location dwelling on how bad you suck). We hurt a motor due to me trying to cheap out on some hard parts, pulled it out, spent large sums of my own savings fixing this stupid engine everyone said was never gonna work. Once we get it running again we spent multiple days on the dyno failing. Get it running right and unload it for a track day and the transmission pukes. Finally at the end of the tunnel was a light and after all the days of wanting to quit things come together.
Now, if you run across someone who fails constantly and NEVER sees results, then run the other way. That person is a dumbass and likely a scam artist. Watch out for them.
The last point I will make, is possibly the most crucial point in all of this. Find someone who is willing to share their trials and tribulations. We try to steer people in a way that is going to give them the least heartache, pair a bunch of the right stuff together so it will work correctly, and is a combo that we know is applicable to someone. I stand on my soap box all the time and shout at people about not buying shit from some 20 year old kid in his moms basement, not because I don't like the kid, but because they have ZERO experience. Also don't buy some shiny chinese crap parts, they're there to trick you and steer you off course. This is called getting the best price, NOT the best VALUE. The only thing they offer is a cheap price on a product. However, that savings is going to cost you dearly when it comes time to address issues in the real world.
Anyways, I've rambled on enough. All I can say is, go be the guy (or gal) that embraces all the problems, gets past them, and gets all of the trophies, prize money, and publicity they want. And quit buying chinese made shit from 20 year old kids in their moms basement because they sell it $10 cheaper...
Go Fast, Be Safe.