What Sports Car Racing Taught Me About Business

What if I told you that running a business and car racing were almost identical? Most people do not know that car racing is one of my passions. You might not know that when I was a kid, I used to drag race cars and race Motocross. A few years back, I was on the pit crew for Starworks Motorsports. Because I did not move as fast as I used to, I wouldn’t be one of those guys you see jumping over the wall. Instead, I did lollipop. Lollipop? The sign looks like a lollipop! The lollipop guy holds the sign to stop the car coming into the pits at the exact right spot, so my pit crew can fuel the car, change tires, and/or do a driver change. After I get the car to stop, I hand a tire to a member of my crew and then I pull an air hose back over the wall. All this happens in less than 40 seconds. It is a tightly choreographed process. If a mistake is made in the pits you can lose a race.

Why does all this matter? I have come to realize how car racing and running a business both require a highly coordinated team to succeed. It is not a one-man-band. Like race car drivers, business owners are confident in taking risks because of the team they have behind them. Business owners wear many hats; many times, we deal with the financial gains and risks of owning a business. Like driving a race car, owning a business is for the hard worker, risk-taker, and visionary. Their lives and our livelihoods are at risk. Performances by the team have the most significant impacts on us from the eyes of our fans or clients. To succeed, our teams need to know the goals and be motivated to reach the finish line.

As proven by the Chinese virus, a successful business does not pause, it adapts. A business owner must take the time to lead, manage, motivate to ensure that employees perform at their full potential. In racing, inadequately trained pit crews can result in wasted time where every second counts. The best teams are the ones that learn from their mistakes, improve their processes, and recover quickly. Even with the best pit crew, there is still a risk associated with being the driver. Like drivers, business owners take the highest risk, putting their blood, sweat, and tears into trying to win the race.

Confidence on the racetrack and in business is essential. The crew must be ready, motivated, and focused on doing the job. The driver must have confidence in the team. We cannot win the race alone and it is crucial to be completely confident in your teams’ ability to complete their task.

I want my team to know that they have my support and that I have confidence that we can succeed, whether it be securing a new client or winning a race. The employees and the pit crew can only do so much, but without trust and a leader in place, it is not easy to find the motivation to work as a team to get the job done.

My team should feel just as accomplished as I do when things go in the right direction. We all must celebrate our accomplishments together, just like how we learn from our mistakes together. The first person the driver hugs after he wins the race is his crew. Similarly, when things go well, we as owners thank and show appreciation to our employees first. It is surprising what people can do when they are a part of something bigger than themselves.