February '17

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FEBRUARY 2017 THE SHOP 17 PERFORMANCE By John Carollo FEBRUARY 2017 THE SHOP 17 T he cars have cooled down. The tire smoke has cleared. And the staging lanes are empty. It's offseason for drag racers in most parts of the world. That makes it the perfect time to look at one of the biggest markets in the performance business and see what lights up the win sign at the end of the track. Manufacturers and builders talk about the upcoming 2017 season—outside factors that could make a difference, technological advancements that offer an edge, and predictions for the new season. If your shop serves competitors who drive the straight and narrow of drag racing, there are reasons for optimism as we wait for the snow to clear and the tracks to open. CASH FLOW? Money talks—nowhere more than racing. So, when trying to determine this season's drag racing outlook, it makes sense to start with the economy and if people have money to spend. "In my mind, there are three factors that will have an impact on drag racing in 2017: the (presidential) election, fuel prices and interest rates," says Steve Matusek, founder and president of Aeromotive, Inc. in Lenexa, Kansas. As far as the first point, he believes race shops were winners in November. "Regardless of your politics, the recent election was a windfall for our industry," he predicts. "Motorsports enthusiasts and small business owners were overwhelmingly for (Donald) Trump. There is a positive outlook because of the anticipation of tax reform and, as a result, more confidence to invest and spend your hard-earned dollars in what you love. The result should be positive for drag racing. It may not be sustainable, but in the near term, it will be positive." He adds that interest rates and fuel prices are linked together from the aspect of dis- cretionary income. "The more dollars saved, the more money available to dedicate to your hobby/ passion," Matusek says. "So, the result is obvious—(spending) less money for fuel, i.e. travel and debt service, the more cash available for racing." Nick Helms, director of sales and marketing for Greenwich, Ohio-based Thermo-Tec, echoes those sentiments. "The biggest factor is the economy," he agrees. "We all know that drag racing is an expensive sport. If the economy stays great, the race world stays great." Bill Pasco, product manager of the newly resurrected SouthSide Machine in Akron, Ohio, says shops will want to keep one eye on the national economic scene as they plan their inventory and workflow this year. "I think you will see the economy playing a major role in how much people are willing to spend on racing products," he offers. "This includes both race repair parts and new race parts. They will want to see what effect President Trump will have on the economy this spring when it's time to purchase. They will also be looking at the price of gasoline, sales taxes and, most importantly, their salary and healthcare costs." Narrow Straight & The 2017 drag racing market looks promising. Shops that sell on quality—not price—win in the long run in the competitive drag racing market. (Photo courtesy Aeromotive Inc.)

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