VOLUME XX,  NUMBER 10 - OCTOBER,  2018

getting down to business w/Scott Gardner

Scott Gardner has owned, co-owned and operated several successful drag racing facilities and is a past president of the International Hot Rod Association. He is the proprietor of Gardner Race Track Consultants, a member of the Motorsports Strategy Group. He can be reached through email at office@gardnerrtc.com

It’s All From Perspective

I try to make it a habit to look at any challenging situation from another person’s prospective. Case in point is when I was a track operator; I would make track operations decisions from the prospective of a spectator, a racer and as the facility manager. This came naturally for me because I was and continue to be a true drag racing fan, I also raced both on the sportsman and semi-professional level, and I worked in various organizations, and owned and operated several race tracks. I drew from my experiences and occasional frustrations while being a spectator and/or racer and applied that knowledge to track management. Some of those experiences as a racer or fan could make me pull my hair out, but I learned from the experiences! I believe the practice of making decisions while considering another’s prospective has made me a better person as I now use the same philosophy in dealing with other matters.

 

Lately I’ve noticed various crew people, crew chiefs and drivers appear to react to race situations from a narrow prospective. For example, a funny car blows up and dumps oil all over the track. From a track operator prospective it’s an expensive annoyance but it’s an unfortunate reality in this business and you can’t get over-the-top upset when it does happen. Machines are going to be pushed past their ability to survive, mistakes will be made by crew, and every component has limitations resulting in failures due to no fault of anyone. The fans, while disappointed, usually also understand that it’s just part of what can happen when machines are pushed past their capacity.

 

So why, when a mistake/problem occurs from the track’s position, does tolerance in some cases seem non-existent? Back when I was a track manager during an NHRA national event we experienced a timing system problem during one of the professional qualifying sessions. The timing had performed flawlessly up to that point and there was no reason to suspect any timing concerns. Then boom, the stage light in one lane wouldn’t work. Thankfully, the Compulink specialist was on-hand and quickly tracked the issue to a starting line wire inside a conduit that appeared to have been dinner for a critter. What was bewildering to me about that incident, was that a prominent crew chief that wasn’t directly involved in the situation, came up to me and said “why don’t you get the damn lights fixed?” I was blown away by the statement especially coming from a crew chief that earlier oversaw his car blowing up creating an oil-down delay. I felt like saying “why don’t you get your car fixed so the fans don’t have to watch tractors clean up oil for 20 minutes?” --- but I didn’t. It’s because I understood that the crew chief wasn’t planning on his race car oiling the track any more than I was planning that there would be a timing problem. The point is, no matter how hard we try to have everything perfect, it’s not going to be and things are going to happen.

 

Many of us today have become jaded and expect perfection in everything, except, of course, if we are on the side that is the problem. I’m as guilty as anyone but I’m trying to do better. We have become a society spoiled by success and we don’t deal with failures very well.

 

So, next time the food comes out wrong at the restaurant, the power goes out at the house, the traction wasn’t perfect or the timing system burped at a race track, be thankful it’s not a mistake you caused. Remember, what goes around comes around. Just as we learned as kids (or at least we over the age of 40) when you point your finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you. Considering another’s prospective before reacting shows great maturity and character. Plus, you never know when a prospective sponsor is watching and your actions could certainly make or break a deal.

 

 

Scott Gardner has owned, co-owned and operated several successful drag racing facilities and is a past president of the International Hot Rod Association. He is the proprietor of Gardner Race Track Consultants a member of the Motorsports Strategy Group. He can be reached through email at office@gardnerrtc.com 

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