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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Club Racing needs a paradigm shift

Auto racing in general, began with two manufacturers pitting disparate designs against each other. As it became commercialized and "the show" was more important than validating a product, BOP adjustments became the norm. Amateurs dream about pro racing but never consider that it is fundamentally, a cost ineffective method of providing close competition. Club racers come and go as budgets briefly bloom then evaporate like the tire smoke they generate. We have to rethink the paradigm by building a series that borrows little from pro racing. The biggest and most painful step is removing the car from the equation. This means one platform, no nooks and crannies in the rules that reward spending wars. Carefully choosing a spec tire that is competitive right down to the cord. Points tables that reward consistency over a few wins. Those are the building blocks. The mortar, as it were, is the mission statement of supporting and coaching both new and experienced drivers from within the series. It should be about the drivers experience, not the fans, promoters or manufacturers. SRF is the largest club racing series in the US and follows this formula. Supermiata was created in the same vein. One single specification for all cars, easily met and monitored performance caps. Native coaching from the "leaders" or most experienced drivers in the series. Inverted grids, short races.Sponsored BBQ for drivers and crew with high quality catered food and beverages Saturday night. Racing now becomes less about the anxiety of the car's competitiveness and more about the excitement of expanding your knowledge under the wing of the pros and national champions running at the front. We're doing things a new way and if the growing field sizes and general buzz are any indication, it is what the drivers have always wanted. Looking forward to 2017 with two new classes and expansion to the east coast with WRL. See you in grid!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I am branded

Yes I am an asshole. That is because I stubbornly refuse to spoon feed those individuals that ask a question based on several layers of misconceptions and are insulted when I don't stop to either give them the answer they want to hear or take the time to explain why their question doesn't make any sense. For this, I am thus labeled.

   I have a choice to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time walking the customer through all the reasons they are asking the wrong question. To be blunt, we are not here for that. We make parts. They are good parts, priced fairly, shipped quickly and perform as advertised.  Got a simple question about one of our products? We'll handle it. Got a giant, open ended question based on years of misinformation and conjecture that we know won't actually help you to attempt to answer? We'll redirect you to our website, or a forum somewhere so you can do some additional research. We do this because it is not any company's obligation or responsibility to be your" best friend that knows a lot about cars".  It is a pragmatic choice, though not always a popular one.

  Got a  tech question entirely unrelated to anything we sell? We'll redirect. We will do this even if we know the answer. Why? Same reason as above.

  We could, simply answer every question ever posed to us  to the best of our knowledge, in perpetuity. In fact, I did this for the first few years of my current business.  After a few years, I realized I was the only one in our little niche industry doing so. I also realized it was costing me almost a day a week. That's expensive and something we could not afford. Some of those customers would eventually buy something, most would not. So I gradually learned to filter questions pertaining to our products from the general  "I'm clueless, impatient and it's your fault if I can't find an answer" inquiries. Thus the reaction from some individuals.

  Communicate with any large company with such a impossible or convoluted question. You will usually get a patronizing, canned answer that does nothing to help you. Now try to get the owner of the company on the line for a "straight" answer. What?  You mean that's not possible? If you could, there is pretty good chance they would also not have a satisfactory answer anyway.  

 I choose to educate, to be distinguished from spoon feeding by rote. An example might be a customer asking what our wheel offset is (published on our website) so they can make sure our 17" wheel fits the back of their Honda Civic. Giving them the simple two digit answer will not help them. It will instead, help them dig a deeper hole of mis-application. I know that. The fellow on the other end of the phone does not. When I suggest that the wheel we offer will not fit his car and that they do some additional research on Honda forums to see what other Civic owners are installing, I am met with righteous indignation. Sometimes quite colorful indignation. 10 minutes later I am branded on facebook and two forums. Why didn't I just take the fellows money? I know, I'm an idiot for trying to raise their awareness instead of taking their cash.

  We get contacted for info because we are experts, professionals in our field. This is what we do for a living and we are very good at it, just like your lawyer, doctor, psychiatrist or real estate agent.  Contrary to those professions however, we do not bear a recognized certification that makes it socially or commercially acceptable to charge for that professional advice. So like your friend that is a florist, we are expected to dispense free expert advice upon demand, in perpetuity.  For this, I am branded.