Scooter grew up as a mechanic and got his first job right out of high school. He was drafted to the Navy during the Vietnam War where he served as an aircraft mechanic. When he came back home, he got a job at Racing Head Service around 1972. They were having trouble finding good camshafts for their market so they started Cam Dynamics (now Comp Cams) to fill the need.
Over the past few decades, Scooter and the team have built Comp Performance Group into a juggernaut in the aftermarket powertrain industry! Now, Scooter looks for possible acquisitions to expand their reach and offer superior products. They also recently underwent a large logistical overhaul of their company and implemented a new software system to help manage it all.
Scooter has also been very involved with SEMA. He spent 6 years on the Board of Directors and served 2 of those years as the Chief Executive Officer. He has helped the SEMA organization push the RPM Act in an effort to combat some detrimental EPA language that prohibits street cars be turned into race cars.
Larry scraped and saved up $1000 to purchase his first Canon Rebel XT DSLR camera back in 2004. He had been taking pictures with a simple point-and-shoot but wanted to step up his professionalism. He had his own business fixing & building computers but also took pictures as a paparazzi. These jobs were a means to an end that allowed him to take automotive pictures. Over the last 13 years, he has traveled all over the world and been to hundreds of events to pursue his passion.
As a testament to his dedication, Larry funded many of his photography trips by justifying them as investments. He would take a chance to travel to an event with the intent of selling his pictures, but it was never a guarantee. This drive and passion resonated with the owners and drivers of the cars and Larry became a world-renowned automotive photographer and editor.
Michelin has sent Larry to Austria to do a shoot with a Ford GT, Ken Block and the Hoonigan crew hired Larry to take pictures during Climbkhana, he took aerial pictures during the Baja 1000 for Monster Energy, and he is the official photographer for the GridLife series. Needless to say, Larry isn’t joking when he claims to take an average of 750 pictures each day!
Chris went to college at an art school in Michigan and focused on graphic design. After graduating, he worked at several design firms and worked his way up the corporate ladder. He was also running a forum called EFHonda to pursue his passion of the EF Honda chassis. He even started his own parking lot meet up called the EF Honda Meet to hang out with fellow enthusiasts. In 2004, they stepped it up and rented Gingerman Raceway on a Monday and took their cars out on to the track. They called it Westminster Honda Meet 4 (for 2004).
As the years went by, the Honda Meet grew and turned into a tight-nit community where people would look forward to the meet every year. Chris focused on making it a very professional event and created new designs and marketing material for each event. But cars weren’t the only thing he was interested in. Chris had been attending a lot of music festivals and was meeting a lot of artists all over the country.
So, he decided to blend the two hobbies and create GridLife. Taking what he learned from Honda Meet, he wanted to create an event that appealed to more than just the car culture. To do this, he devised an experience-oriented track weekend that also included live music. He encouraged people to camp at the event, grill out, and watch the racing. He also incorporated a car show segment and drifting to make it even more appealing to all the different car segments.
John bought his first Eagle Talon when he was in high school and upgraded to a turbo Eclipse when he got to college. He did quite a few mods and ran it a lot at the drag strip. Then, John and some buddies got together and rented a small shop to modify their cars and others for customers. After a few years, John separated off and took his fabrication equipment to work at another shop. That second shop began to shift to more domestic cars so John decided to go out on his own.
He bought an 8500 sqft building to house a few lifts, the dyno, engine assembly room, and an area for his fabrication. He has grown to having 4 employees and working on several different import cars. He has been focusing on only working on stuff that makes him money and has grown the business steadily over the years.
Trevor raced cars all through high school and he progressed over the years with more powerful and faster cars. When he turned 21, he bought a Trans Am that came with the new LS V8. At that same time, his now business partner Jason Mangum also had a Trans Am and they raced against each other any chance they got! Trevor graduated college in 2000 and moved to Dallas, TX to look for a job. It was at this time that Trevor and Jason really considered starting a real business.
When they pulled the trigger, Trevor moved back home to Lubbock, TX to open up Texas Speed. Their main focus was parts sales and they were early adopters to sell parts on a website. They also installed parts on cars but eventually stopped that to focus on selling parts. In July of 2014, they relocated to Georgetown, a suburb north of Austin, TX to get access to more employees.
Since the move, Texas Speed has grown to almost 50 employees and has transitioned to manufacturing parts as well as selling them online. They now machine and assemble all of their engines, port their cylinder heads, and grind camshafts all in house.
Howard began his focus in the sport compact performance market building roll cages and engines for customers. He bought his first CNC machine way back in 2005 because he wasn’t able to reliably get sleeved blocks. Things were going good until the economic downturn in 2008 when they had to sell off all the assets to stay out of bankruptcy. In 2010, he started Howard’s Hot Rods with his wife. This was kind of a side business and Howard went to work for another machine shop.
As time went on, Howard decided to build a building on his property to handle his Howard’s Hot Rods business. In 2013, he decided to get back into the machining business and bought another CNC machine. He took things he learned over the years and implemented processes to ensure that everything is done correctly the first time. This organization also allows them to know exactly how many of each machining process they complete to better determine ways to save money or attract more customers in the future.
Jeremy and John met during high school and shared their love for turbocharged 4-cylinder cars. Jeremy (aka Fathouse) and John worked behind John’s parent’s house wrenching on their cars and other peoples’ cars. They met Ben at a car meet and struck up a lasting friendship.
After a few years of doing car stuff on the side, they decided to have a go at creating a real performance shop. They all brought a different aspect to the table: Jeremy was an industrial welder and had been fabricating parts for Evo’s and other cars for years, John was an excellent mechanic and had worked for racing teams, and Ben had a formal business education and worked alongside his dad at his business for many years. Together, they made a great team to run and operate a performance shop.
They jumped in feet first and purchased a set of buildings on a good size plot of land. It came with 2 buildings and a house which Jeremy actually lives in. They design and build products needed for their customer cars and then manufacture those products to sell on their website. They have expanded their offerings from Evo’s and STI’s to include Ford V8’s as well. They invested in a car and then began making products for it. To promote their products, they recently hired a part-time videographer to create content and spread brand awareness.
Jason has been hustling to make money ever since he was a kid! He started by mowing lawns, washing cars, putting grip tape on skateboards, and painting other kid’s bicycles. When he was 14, he bought a VW bug and immediately began working on it and modifying it. Then he bought a Mazda mini truck slammed it with hydraulics and did other modifications to it. During high school, he teamed up with an older friend to start working on other people’s cars and trucks.
After a brief stint in college, Jason realized that wasn’t for him. So, he got a full-time job but still did the side hustle of running his shop. He opened his own shop, employed 1 tech, and quickly expanded this side business to a larger location. As things got more and more busy, Jason decided to take the leap and run Rage Performance (now Whitfield Fab) for a living! He downsized his life to help prop up the business during this transition.
After he started working full time, the retail parts sales really took off. While this was great money, it took Jason away from what he loved – racing and making cool stuff. So, he pivoted his business model and focused his efforts to manufacturing parts, doing engine swaps, and building roll cages. Now, he is working hard to make roll cage kits for every car possible.
Chris Stephens started his automotive journey modifying and fixing Volkswagens. His family was big into cars and his brother set out to open up a shop called while Chris was in college. He joined the business and they began working on import cars. As time went on, the business continued to grow and their focus shifted to becoming an efficient service shop.
Fast forward to 2016 and Chris saw a casting call on Facebook looking for a host for a garage rehabilitation show. Both him and his brother applied, but Chris was ultimately chosen to host Garage Rehab on the Discovery Channel. This is a joint-venture spearheaded by Richard Rawlings of Fast & Loud.
The show airs each Wednesday night and can even be watched online. Chris’ main focus is to go in, clean up the physical shop, figure out what they are good at (and not good at), and advise them on how to improve their operation. This comes from focusing on services that make the most money. While the show does do a makeover for the shop space, Chris wants to ensure that the shops will be more successful for years to come.
Tim grew up in Massachusetts and got interested in cars early on as a teenager. He moved to Florida to go to college and find some better weather. After graduating, he worked at an ad agency and handled a lot of the automotive stuff. He bought a Datsun 240Z and began hosting SCCA Autocross events. He was hungry for automotive information, but all of the magazines were focused on new car specs and data, not modifying cars in your garage to go faster.
So, he told his wife they were going to start their own magazine and appeal to the weekend racer. He wanted to provide coverage of races and install guides for people for people who owned smaller and import sports cars. They got a bank loan to purchase a computer and begin assembling the magazine. Tim took his knowledge from his ad agency job to drum up advertisers and content. Then they were off to the printer!
He has stayed ahead of the technology curve over the years. He was the second company in the area to purchase a desktop publishing system which sped up the process to get the magazine printed. Their March 1989 issue was created completely digital and they have been doing it that way ever since. Their latest shift has been towards digital content. They created their website blog back in 1998. In 1999, they started the $1999 challenge (now the $20XX challenge) and their forum took off with information about this event. This forum following quickly transferred to their website information and then their social media accounts. They have done their best to provide unique content to both audiences as their viewing tendencies change. They have even started doing a Facebook live video every Wednesday night.
Ian Baker got his racing career going first as a race car fabricator. He was on the forefront of turbo charger installations in Australia. In 2007, he worked with a shop that took a car to the Tsukuba Circuit in Japan to race and wondered why they didn’t have anything like that in Australia. Over the years, he has built up World Time Attack to be the premier unlimited time attack race in the world. Even though Ian wasn’t the first to host a Time Attack event, he has worked to make it the bucket list event for a lot of racers.
Last year, they sold 33,000 spectator tickets and that number grows every year. Ian’s goal is to allow everybody to have a fun time, see all the cars and drivers up close, and watch a really cool race! It’s a little different than most races where you have to pay extra to get down and see the cool stuff. They have recently added a car show and drifting events to supply even more entertainment for the fans. And their live stream of the event continues to expand their reach.
Eric Hazen met Paul Lucas while at college at Purdue and shared their enthusiasm of cars and engineering. During college, they both had engineering jobs at top level racing companies. After graduating, Eric continued his design engineering position at C&R and Paul started working there as well. During their lunch breaks, they imaging running their own performance business. With their knowledge of CFD modeling and air flow models, they decided to pursue designing and manufacturing aerodynamic components in their free time.
Eventually, Eric moved to Phoenix and worked from home for C&R while Paul moved on to work as a design engineer at AMS Performance. In late 2013, they decided to start making products and developed the front splitter for the FRS/BRZ. They decided to go at it full time in early 2016 and have been growing ever since! They continue to develop new aerodynamic components and are branching off into different products such as manifolds and clutch forks.
Mike Lewin grew up in an environmentally friendly community and then went to Purdue for Engineering. During college, he met Dan O’Donnel through the car club and they became roommates. Dan introduced Mike to Redline Time Attack and they began working on Dan’s Evo 7 to make it faster and faster for each event. While they were building the car, Dan introduced Grant to the team to help build the Evo 7. At this point, they decided to begin calling themselves the Professional Awesome.
After graduation, everybody got real jobs and worked for other companies. But they continued to develop and improve Dan’s Evo 7. Sadly, the car was totaled at Road Atlanta in 2013 and they were unable to salvage any of it. In the true spirit of motorsports, Doug Wind and Tony Szirka donated their winnings to the Professional Awesome. Then, multiple companies stepped up and offered to help them build another car. The team hadn’t really considered giving it another shot, but the encouragement and donations from friends led them to purchase an Evo 8 and start fresh.
While building this car, they took it much more seriously and tried to design and build as many aspects of the car as possible. This has morphed their business into offering engineering support and design for other racers. They have developed several aerodynamic components and help other teams setup their suspension.
Victor Alvarez grew up in Long Island, NY and used to spend a lot of time working at his dad’s and uncle’s automotive shop. Victor was around cars since a very early age but he really fell in love with them when his dad bought a Supra. His family decided to move south to Florida to take advantage of the nicer weather when Victor was 15. When they got there, his dad started another automotive shop and Victor jumped right in to work there as well. He had plans to go to college, but he had gotten so involved with and passionate about modifying cars that he decided that career path was for him.
As time went on, he continued to work on Supras and eventually met Alpha. Alpha was tuning lots of different cars and Victor’s customers would request Alpha to tune them. Victor and Alpha struck up a friendship based on their aligned business expertise and formed Induction Performance. Fast forward 5 years, and Induction Performance is about to move into a larger building to better suit their customers.
Victor also organizes FL2K every October in Florida. It is a sister event to TX2K and Victor works closely with Peter Blach (Episode 50) with the goal of bringing shops and fast cars together to drag race and roll race. It is located at Bradenton Motorsports Park on Oct 6-8, 2017.
Rory has spent most of his life working at various automotive businesses. He grew up working on and racing go carts in California. Then went to Wyotech for a formal automotive education in Pennsylvania. He then moved back to California to work for a boat shop, a hot rod shop, and a shop which recorded the Wrecks to Riches tv show. His next job was as a fabricated at West Coast Customs where he got to work on all sorts of cool projects. He transitioned into the parts department there before moving on to Callaway Cars.
This is when he really got involved with SEMA. He had been to the show many times with West Coast Customs, but decided to volunteer for the Select Committee once he got to Callaway. He was featured in SEMA’s 35 under 35 award which helped him get his next job at Body Armor 4X4. Rory then moved on to become the VP of Sales at Gibson Exhaust. His latest venture is as a sales director at Advanced Accessory Concepts where he is developing and selling a new product that he helped design.
Rory recently transitioned into the Chairman of the YEN Select Committee. His main goal is to give young people more opportunities to get together, make connections, and improve their situation at work. YEN hosts the Launch Pad Competition this year at SEMA and various networking events across the country
Dom Tucci has been exposed to hot rods his entire life. Both his dad and grandfather built many customs cars during his youth. But Dom didn’t originally envision himself working with cars. He went to Syracuse University for Industrial Design and fell in love with 3D modeling and design work. As he progressed through the program, he was still helping his dad out at Tucci Hot Rods and really did enjoy the work. It was very hands-on and required a lot of visual details that he was learning in school.
After graduating he created Dom Tucci Designs. He did renderings for his dad’s Tucci Hot Rods customers, designed various logos, and created branding material for companies. 3D printing has also become a large portion of his business. Using his design, Dom established a relationship with a 3D printer manufacturer and built over a dozen unique parts for their Ford Fiesta featured in the Ford booth at SEMA 2017. Dom is trying to showcase how this technology can be used to push the aftermarket industry to new levels.
Ben started tinkering with cars when he got into high school. When he enrolled at Georgia Tech for Mechanical Engineering (with a minor in Chemistry), his interest grafted towards electric cars. He participated in making a solar vehicle and modifying a Camaro to be a hybrid. Then he took it to the next level and made a tube-chassis hybrid car from scratch using a V-Twin engine, a forklift AC motor, a snowmobile CVT transmission, and batteries from a Smart Car.
Ben kept bumping into Kevin Patrick of Exomotive at car shows around Atlanta. They got to talking and decided to team up to produce the Electrocet. It’s an electric version of the Exocet using driveline components from a Tesla Model S. To get the company going, Ben applied to an incubator at Georgia Tech and they decided to invest in Eddy Motorworks. They have created a teaser video that you can watch here.
Their business model is to assemble the Electrocet’s and sell to customers as well as doing electric car conversions to conventional vehicles. They have been chosen as a semifinalist in the 2017 SEMA Launch Pad Competition. If they make it to the finals, they get to pitch their company and compete with 9 other business ideas for a chance at a free booth at SEMA in 2018 and lots of publicity.
Sasha started his automotive career by buying a small shop just to work on his own car. He started to help friends with their cars and then began charging for his service. He worked at it for several years but just couldn’t make it profitable. So he closed the shop and moved on. He worked a corporate job and realized very quickly that he just didn’t want that life, so he decided to go back to working on cars.
Sasha decided to start tuning cars and use a mobile dyno to travel to the customer and called it OnPoint Dyno. He also does vehicle setup and driver coaching on top of the mobile dyno business. He now has 1 employee and a small shop to store equipment and tune cars. His latest big project was to transforming a Lotus Evora into an electric car. Sasha used the motor from a Tesla Model S, batteries from the Chevy Volt, and a MOTEC for traction control. They recently finished the car and went 11.4 in the ¼ mile on their first time out.
The thinking behind this electric vehicle is preparation for the future. Sasha is betting that manufacturers and consumers are shifting towards electric cars and wants to be a leader in the performance market.
Susan is the VP of Finance for Moore Automotive. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and started her career at a CPA firm. She worked at that firm for a while and then helped several other businesses “fix” their accounting and ensure that everything was setup correctly. She now has a total of 20 years of experience in Finance and Accounting. In 2010, she met Bill who owned Moore Automotive and they got married a few years later. She officially joined the business in 2015.
Moore Automotive is an interesting business story in that it actually started by a different person and was originally a service shop. Bill bought the business in 2003 and began branching out to more performance installations. They learned to tune EFI, purchased a dyno, and started working on import performance. While they still do a lot of maintenance stuff, the performance mods are the fun part!
They are in the process of doubling their square footage with a new building which they bought. Their current space isn’t very efficient and has over 30 years of accumulated stuff cluttering up the space. The new building allows them to optimize the layout and increase the process flow throughout the shop.
Susan has taken running the shop very seriously and focuses on getting the most out of the operation. She excels at using data to predict future revenue and make changes to increase efficiency.
Andy’s enthusiasm towards cars came from his father. They would spend nights and weekend working/modifying older cars. Then they got into carting and quickly graduated up to racing shifter carts. This transitioned into a quick stent learning to race open wheel cars at the Skip Barber Racing School. Throughout all of this, Andy held on to his passion of filming and sharing his experiences with outdoor activities. To pursue this as a career, he enrolled in Sacramento State University and majored in video Production.
Years later, he got married, moved to Temecula in southern California, and got a job at the TEN (The Enthusiast Network) in the motorcycle group. He even raced motocross for a while and produced a video series about racing. When he and his wife became pregnant, Andy moved to a more stable and secure job at Wilwood Brakes as a media coordinator.
Then an opportunity came up at Seibon as a project manager. This job turned out to be a marketing strategy to launch a new brand directed to the domestic market. Seibon has been a well-known name in the import market, but they were having lots of trouble getting a few dozen different parts to sell to domestic cars.
Andy and a few other employees were tasked with creating this new brand and set out to utilize all of the core strengths and hit the ground running. Within 1.5 years, they grew from 35 part numbers to over 300 different parts and continue to make new parts all the time.
Episode 100 features a very special guest! Reid Lunde sits down on the other side of the table for his own interview. He has spoken with dozens of other influencers in the business, but never had a chance to really share his story. Now, he gets his shot!
Reid’s first experience with cars came in the form of RC racing when he was a kid. Not coming from a car family, he pretty much went out on his own to find inspiration. When he got into high school, his love of full size cars started. He made money at a telemarketing agency and saved up for an engine for his Honda. He spent a short while taking business classes while dreaming of speed. He finished his Associates degree and had plans to finish up his Bachelor’s degree. But, he just couldn’t get excited about school and just wanted to get to work.
In the early 2000’s, he started modifying cars in a friend’s backyard. Then they stepped it up and started renting a building. He has been growing the business in the Honda market for over a decade. A few years ago, Reid dove into the Chevy platform and that provided a whole new set of challenges because the market is so much different. But he persevered and now offers warrantied performance upgrades through a local Chevy dealership for his Corvette packages. To expand the business like this, Reid separated the business into two unique entities: Kaizenspeed for the domestic side and KS Tuned for the imports. This way, he can separate the content between the Honda and Corvette platforms and focus on each customer base independently.
Ron Sledge has spent his life excited about cars and knew from an early age that he wanted to work on them as a career. He started his career in the aftermarket in the early 70’s at Michigan Engine Bearings as an industrial engineer. He got them involved in NASCAR in the early 80’s and traveled all over the country going to the races. In 2010, Ron starter working at King Engine Bearings. Ron has worked to double the sales since he started and solidified King Engine Bearings as a premier motorsports-grade bearing.
He has stayed in Kentucky, and now gets to work from home. King Engine Bearings employs several people scattered all over the country to maintain operations in North America. King Engine Bearings is actually headquartered in Israel, so it is paramount to have good communication among all employees. In total, King has about 250 employees with manufacturing and sales worldwide.
King focuses on OE replacement bearings, high performance upgraded bearings, and even aviation bearings. They work closely with customers to determine which platforms to develop new products for. They will be releasing a new coating this year which they released at PRI 2016 to address some of these customer concerns.
Kenny immigrated to the US from Vietnam and acquired his love of cars through his cousin who subscribed to every car magazine imaginable. They would pour over pictures and specs and dreamed of owning one of these sports cars. His passion for cars continued to grow and in 1995, he started to work at Jo-Tech which was started by his brother-in-law. Kenny was going to college for business administration but decided to purchase Jo-Tech instead of finishing his degree. The opportunity was too good to pass up, so he took the plunge and bought the business.
Kenny quickly grew the business and began sponsoring a drag racer to get his name out there. They were doing good and going faster and faster each time they went out. Sadly, while his team was repairing the car on the side of the road one night, they were hit by a drunk driver and totaled the car and severely injured several people. Kenny tried to bounce back by building his own car, but that was also hit by somebody and totaled. Not one to quit, Kenny went and purchased a Civic with lofty goals of making it run 11’s in the quarter mile. They were successful in their first night with the car and then quickly got down into the 10’s.
Coming from this success, Kenny decided to take the car to California to compete with the big guys. They were able to set the world record for a Honda Civic and solidify their name as a very fast performance shop. While going to many races each year, Kenny happened to meet a marketing director at Scion and they wanted to partner up on a drag car. He capitalized on this new relationship and then leveraged that to work with other companies to join as partners with the racing program. Kenny has taken this success and built up quite the reputation as an elite GTR builder but he also works on many other platforms to meet the needs of his customers.
Sam Barros came to the US to pursue a mechanical engineering degree at Michigan Tech University. During college, Sam interned at a nuclear power plant as a system engineer and loved the idea of working at a large engineering firm. But, when Sam graduate, he went a completely different direction. He moved to California and worked as a special effects engineer doing high-voltage special effects.
One day, Sam got a random phone call from a very prominent businessman, Nermal Mouliea, who proposed that Sam come work for him on a new fuel efficiency project. Sam did a little research to find out if this was the real deal, and it turned out to be true. So Sam packed up his stuff and headed to New Jersey to head the project. The idea was to spray water directly into the combustion chamber to reduce heat losses within the engine. While the idea is similar to water/methanol injection of many forced induction applications, this idea took it to the next level and very accurately injected fine water particles into the cylinder. They were able to achieve 25% increase in fuel efficiency with this system. While this was an excellent result, the problem was implementation. It is very difficult to modify an existing engine and even more difficult to get an OEM manufacturer to implement it in a new engine.
So, they took this technology and applied it to fuel injectors. While the OEM’s were coming out with Direct Injection (DI) engines, the aftermarket had not been able to keep up. They now manufacture and modify injectors for many engines to supply the aftermarket customers looking for more power in their DI engines. EFI University is teaching a class on DI tuning using Nostrum Energy’s Cadillac featuring their injectors. They work with companies such as Lingenfelter who provides a larger high pressure fuel pump for many applications. In addition to the DI applications, Nostrum Energy also manufactures their own Port Injection (PI) injectors. They are unique by integrating a divorced spray pattern to inject fuel directly down each port.
Thad Norman teamed up with a long-time friend, Safa Yousef, with aspirations to turn up the performance on the McLaren cars. Safa came from a racing background in both cars and motorcycles, while Thad came from an engineering and automation background. Together, they knew they could push the limits of what is capable with a factory car. They weren’t shooting for straight line performance, but were more focused on all around improvements.
Thad and Safa had to seek outside funding to get the business going and had to try several different avenues before finding investors willing to put money into this sort of business. After securing funding, they purchased a 12C and began development for the next 2 years. The result was the 800hp package and cooling kit. They have since gone on to develop a 1000hp option and a 1200hp option that utilizes their globally-patented tri-boost technology. They are developing even more parts to step the power up to 1500hp.