Moneymaker (Season 3, Article 1)
Money Maker season 3 article 1
Building Chuck's Empire
by Chuck Morris
Edited by Michael Beard
Here it is already mid March and time for a new season of racing to begin. This will be the third year Luke has graciously allowed me to bring the story of me buying a car for $6,000 bucks and racing it on a budget attempting to A.) pay for the car with race winnings and B.) get the racing to pay for itself. So far in this journey the highlights have included a win at ATCO in a gamblers race, a final round loss in Super while splitting the purse, and two other finals in the past two seasons. Total winnings were around $3,000. (Keith, the original owner of Barney [the big purple project car - Ed.] had agreed to be paid when I won and take half of the winnings as I did so) . Approximately $3,000 came from selling extra stuff that came with the car. When I look at just this part of this venture I see how I can put a positive spin to the experience. I then move over to the expense column and see the part where I spent around $12,000 (after winnings) to race the two seasons to be able to win the $3,000. Maybe this should be good enough (cost effective enough to race 20 plus weekends a year) and I should just chalk it up to the cost of the habit of racing.
The good news moving forward is both the original investors (Keith and Gary) are now paid in full. I can't thank my two friends enough for investing in me to get into the process of racing on a budget. The best feeling so far was sending Keith the final check... the week before Christmas. That means to me the rest of this adventure is ALL on me to make it work. I am much more comfortable facing a situation when its on me. I have learned through losing my first business, failure is only temporary and the deepest effects of losing will only affect you as long as you let them. I can stomach failure. I can't stomach hurting others due to my failings and I can't stomach not trying.
Long ago, right after the first time I won a bracket race (June 1998) [and no, it didn't take him all THAT long to win his first... the '70s and '80s consumed Chuck's life in other ways. Or was it the other way around? - Ed.], I wrecked my car the following week. Two weeks later, after getting the frame straightened and fixing the worn out front end I blew the motor in the same car while doing a burnout. One of the guys I used to hang out with [before he mysteriously disappeared. -Ed.] came over as I was putting the car on the trailer and told me I should give up. I turned and looked at him, and told him I would give up 10 minutes after I stopped breathing.
I don't know what the thing is in someone that won't let them quit (even when you should), but I got it. It has made me do some incredibly dumb things in the past, and likely will plague me in the future, but there is a benefit. The benefit is now with a little more experience ,some concepts I have learned from the folks like Luke, Bud, Crutchy, and Beard (the poor bastard who's editing this) [Maybe I wouldn't be poor if I wasn't wasting three hours of valuable work time trying to craft this into something readable! - Ed.] and an inability to accept "no". I am moving forward with the column, and looking forward to the rest of the journey it will bring me on.
Even if I never get to the point where racing is my livelihood (I still have my day job of driving folks in the limo world) [in which he wrecks far less frequently. - Ed.], racing the way I have the last two seasons (focusing on how to race as a business), has way more benefits than just to keep feeding the endless expense, working at getting solvent, and attempting to turn a profit.
One of the other things I have begun to refocus on was my original template for my personal empire of racing. As I stated last year, racing was my marketing for my business of rebuilding starters and alternators. [Can we make launchers for them, too? - Ed.] I have in the last year begun to sell starters and alternators again to some of my old accounts for a local rebuilder. This year I am going to start advertising at my local track, and bring more work to my friend's business.
The other new source of income has been the design of a tee shirt (Beard's design, my concept): Cheaters Union. Cheaters Union Apparel is an attitude that comes with working really hard at creating the skill set to be successful at the “game” only to have folks who haven't taken the same time and energy to learn the “game” accuse you of “cheating”. The “game” I relate this to is the one I play. Bracket racing. But the Attitude is seen in all lines of sport.
If you are one of the ones who have given up countless hours and money to learn your “game”, then Cheaters Union is for you.
If you are one of the ones who would rather talk crap behind people's backs in an attempt to bring others down, because you are unable to see how hard work allows the ones who play “the game” to do so at a level that appears to be unattainable without cheating, likely you won't want to be part of the UNION anyhow. Cheaters Union Apparel, where the 1 percent win 99 percent of the time... because they CAN!
Neither of these small business ventures will pay for my racing completely at this time, but they do help offset costs. Anything I can do to add income to my race program that doesn't come directly from my paycheck is my focus on how to build my empire. I may not be able to win enough to support the “habit”, but I can sell things. The part I was best at in my business, back when I got it, was getting new accounts. Unfortunately, I lost sight of my greatest asset to my own business after a couple years and didn't continue looking for new accounts while I was mired with the daily routine of keeping the lights on.
Going out and looking for marketing partners may be a good avenue for lowering costs, too, but when I do, I would rather show them what I have done for my own business ventures instead of telling them what I could do for them.
Times are a changing
In the last article, I wrote about three things that have already changed due to sticking with the budget theme. The first and the biggest is I didn't switch to EFI. The main reason I didn't make the big change was I wanted to try not to change too many things on the car all at once. Instead, I bought an APD750 alky carb from Luke and bolted it on. Barney hasn't had ANYTHING close to this kind of quality for a carb and I truly believe this will cure a bunch of consistency issues.
The only other mechanical change to the project was another th-350 trans with a low gear set. This one is a light gear set, so we have my other th-350 being freshened, because we don't know how durable the lightweight stuff will be. The trans will be a bit quicker in E.T., but more importantly, it should be quicker in reaction time. I am still trying to get the car capable of leaving shallow on a Pro Tree in an RPM range I find most useful.
I am still going to stick with the template Luke lays out in the tutorial Building Your Empire, such as racing locally and only going to big money events WHEN I am already winning locally. If I don't win at home, there's no need to go invest in getting my teeth kicked in elsewhere. Been there, done that, got the tee shirts to prove it. [Coming soon, the new "Teeth Kicked In Union" t-shirts... -Ed.] However, there is one exception. (isn't there always at least one exception with me?) I have already bought an entry to the Shootout at the World Footbrake Challenge, because likely there would have been none left if I had waited until I raced, and I really like shootout formats. My plan to race with my friends at Lebanon Valley Dragway weekly and qualify for the Bracket Finals is still on, but the deal got even sweeter for us Div. 1 racers who live up here in da north. The Bracket Finals is AT LVD this year! To qualify for my home track and race the championship race at that track is something I never even thought would be a possibility and I am pumped!
The last change is a biggy. In talking with my editor (Beard), he and I came up with an idea. I am going to change the format of the column from written to a video blog. During the time I have been writing and Mike editing, we have had a bunch of conversations, and Mike pointed out that he felt a lot more could be gained [things like time, money, sanity... -Ed.] by me doing the columns by recording them. Although Beard begged me to keep typing the column because editing my well-crafted sentences [it's not just the sentences... it's the "words" they are comprised of. - Ed.] have become a highlight of his existence and he can't imagine his life without the experience (yeah, that's what you said, right Mike?) I thought, "What the heck? Let's try it." [Phrases with which Chuck is quite familiar. - Ed.]
One word of advice to anyone who chooses to do something with video editing and is as UN-tech savvy as I . You should learn what you will need to edit vids and how to use that software BEFORE you tell the guy you are going to present the idea to (Luke) your intentions . I now have a new laptop and am getting better at the process of editing but my first few attempts where BAD. As in not watchable. "Less is more" will be the theme as I practice how to do the editing stuff but I've got to say it's a lot of fun, and since the new format will be on YouTube and available to all, I am real excited to see if we can get folks to tune in who may be from other worlds [He misses "his people", presumably from the planet Mongo. - Ed.] and may like the story of bracket racing on a budget.
So that's it for now from the MoneyMaker column. I hope you tune into the new video blog format, and good luck racing wherever you may be partaking in what we do... unless you are in the opposite lane, then I'll take all the luck I can get, because I will likely NEED it to turn on the win light.