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Guest Column: A Day at the Races

Industry veteran and longtime Babcox contributor Dave Caracci gives us an inside look at the races with a professional sports car team; or, in his words, he shows us “how an aftermarket guy relaxes in retirement.”

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Following a long aftermarket career and his retirement from Bosch, Dave Caracci continues to serve the aftermarket industry as executive director of the National Engine Parts Manufacturers Association and as the chairman of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium.

In my youth, high school, college and after, I was a car racer. I built engines, drove on tracks across North America, won some national races and a state championship. I even designed and built a championship-winning formula car. What I couldn’t do was make enough money to pay my bills! So, at the old age of 29, I joined a major parts manufacturer as a salesman for the state of Florida. Time to go to work.

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Over the next 30 years, I worked hard, got really lucky and met a lot of great folks in the auto parts business all over the world. At 56, as VP of Sales for the world’s largest auto parts manufacturer and chairman of AAIA, I retired.

So now what?

Well, since I don’t need to make money in retirement to pay my bills, the most logical thing to do is go back to car racing. Now, as one of my hobbies, I work as part of the crew on a professional American LeMans Series Team. The funny thing is, every time I bump into one of my auto parts colleagues, they say “tell us about the racing.” So, this summer I will report to you on what it was like at the race, what we did, why and how it went. Whenever appropriate, I’ll relate it to something in your world — the auto parts business.

The team (and business) name is Performance Tech Motorsports. The shop is located in Hollywood, Fla., and takes care of dozens of race cars for amateur and professional racers. I work with an American LeMans Series part of the team. We race prototype sports cars. Some in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Series (30 minute races) and others in the longer American LeMans Series races (two hours to 12 hours). The tracks are located all across the country from California to Connecticut, Florida and Ontario, Canada.

Beginning in this month, we will race at a different track about every two weeks, bringing a total of five cars, in two semis with a crew of 12 to 18 people. I do a short report on each race and link you to the same report our fans read. And, like I said, I’ll always relate it back to the parts business.

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This week, I wrote about our experience at Sebring. If you are a real race enthusiast, click here to read my report from Sebring on Facebook.

This week, my experiences on the track bring to mind that age old aftermarket debate on quality compared to total investment value.

How many times have you heard something like “I don’t want to spend any more than necessary. It’s just a new starter, not an entire engine!”

Well, how would you like to have a car that costs more than $300,000, two semis and 18 people at a track for a week and when you finish the first pit stop, the **** car won’t start?

Yep. That’s already happened to us once this year.

Same thing applies to our aftermarket customer. They have a $30,000 vehicle, and we worry over the difference in a $100 starter versus $150 starter. Sure, for you the business person it’s 50 percent MORE. But frankly, for the gal with the $30,000 car that takes her to work everyday, it’s ONLY fifty bucks! Think about the value and investment of our vehicle owners. Are THEY driving the search for lowest price or are WE?

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I hope you join us back here at aftermarketNews.com in a few weeks for my race report, funny stories and aftermarket comparisons. And for you car nuts that may need a “race fix” during your coffee break, be sure to “friend” Performance Tech Motorsports on Facebook. To do so, just click here.

 

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