Then we backed it up. It’s one thing to go that fast, it’s another thing to do it again. That whole weekend, we just kept hitting those same numbers back to back. In our third race, we qualified No. 2 again but the track temperature was over 130 degrees. Because we had no experience to run at that track temperature with this vehicle, as soon as I let out my clutch to get the car moving, it just spun the wheels and I got eliminated in the first round.
After that, our crew decided we needed to test in between the races in the same hot and nasty conditions that we’re going to be racing in the rest of the summer. So in July, we went to some invitational drag races, like the one in Grand Bend (Ontario). We had the same hot conditions as before, again spun the tires and came back after some suspension changes. By the time we got to the third qualifier, we qualified No. 1. We came second in the final but we learned so much in that week.
Q: What effect has going back into racing had on the company?
A: I think it shows leadership that we’ve come up with a brand new car and team following environmental green practices. It’s a bit of work to be environmentally conscious and still focused on winning, but we’ve done it.
The thing about racing is this: It keeps the mind going and it’s taught us to overcome challenges. We’re always building something and testing it. We’re seeing what went wrong, what went right and we record everything. Then we take that data and keep making our changes.
Racing is absolutely part of our research and development. There isn’t a race car in the world that has emission controls technology on race cars. For our last race of the year in September, we’ll have emission control technology installed on that engine because we’re so sure it won’t affect the performance.
Racing has also created public awareness for us. It has let people know that we’re reducing emissions from a race car and actually winning races. Go green, go fast.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge in juggling all these different roles?
A: At one time, I used to think I had to do it all myself. Most entrepreneurs think that there’s nobody else as good as them but I learned about eight years ago that wasn’t true. You’ve got to surround yourself with the right people. When I’m out racing, I’m not concerned about what’s going on at Global Emissions because I know that Gary has everything under control and my brother Charlie and my wife Sue runs Redline like a well-oiled machine.
Q: What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs?
A: Focus and consistency. What I mean by consistency is that in everything you do, you have to follow up the same processes over and over again. You don’t start developing something using very stringent policies, and then once you start manufacturing and get the company going, allow standards to fall off.
If you’re coming out with innovative technology today, if you want to market it, you have to keep developing that technology and know what you’re going to need to have six months or a year down the road.
Look at BlackBerry. RIM’s a great company – they grew it very strong and I wish them well – but they just didn’t keep up and listen to the customers who wanted different technologies. So they fell back. I think they can fix it but they lost the focus on the actual consumers buying the product. You can’t do that.
Special to The Globe and Mail
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