Speed Secrets: Lowering Your Standards is a Race to the Bottom

Features, Racing I By Ross Bentley I July 11, 2016
In nearly 550 interviews on his Cars Yeah podcast, Mark Greene has talked to some very interesting people – all in some form of motorsport or the automotive world. What I appreciate most about Cars Yeah is how he draws out what people in our sport have learned which can apply to business (and other things). I asked Mark if he’d share a few key lessons that he’s found are common amongst his guests – that’s this week’s feature topic. -Ross
Henry Ford earned his early success through mass production and using interchangeable parts to build cars. He created an efficient automotive manufacturing system that made his car affordable to the masses. However, he soon learned that people wanted more than a cheap car. They wanted a car they could be proud of and feel safe in.
Winning the race to the bottom is like coming in second, and nobody remembers who’s second.
Winning the race to the bottom is like coming in second, and nobody remembers who’s second.
Everyone wants a deal, but more so, people want a great product. Really great brands are known for more than their price point. Even great products that are inexpensive are known for more than their cheap price. Designing and manufacturing automotive parts, accessories, racing gear, and equipment is a competitive industry. More and more companies are appearing in the online marketplace, competing for your attention and your money. Many of them garner attention by competing in the race to the bottom of the price chain. And while it’s tempting to save a few dollars here or there, that practice could cost you more than a wrinkled fender. We’ve all heard that great question when shopping for a helmet: “How much is your head worth to you?”
Lowering your price, and your standards, is a race to the bottom.
Being cheap, for the sake of cheap, is where those go who care little for what they are creating or purchasing. They are companies that care little for their customers, and even less for their suppliers, and their employees. This ultimately leads to sacrificing their morals and their mission, if they even have morals or a mission. On the track, cheap can equate to disaster when parts break or worse, when your safety equipment doesn’t save your hide or noggin in an accident. Quality-tested safety equipment is mandatory in professional racing and most amateur venues, however, when it comes to some non-professional standards, the choice of cheap is up to the individual.
Quality becomes even more important on the track.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior participating in club events or you’ve gotten serious about racing at a higher level, you should always opt for quality. Quality often relates to safety. In my line of work, I get to interview interesting people and I see some common traits. One is that the best don’t want to be at the bottom. Three of my past guests on the Cars Yeah podcast have made it their life’s mission to focus on safety for drivers.

Jim Morris is the Managing Director of Lifeline Fire & Safety Systems. They are a leading manufacturer of fire suppression and safety equipment in the motorsports and defense sectors. Jim’s an amateur racer and collects vintage cars. His parting words at the end of our talk, “75% of the race is done in the workshop,” is proof of his experience in racing. And his success quote, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is a testament to his philosophy about doing things right.

Another unique guest of mine on Cars Yeah was Yves Morizot, who is the President of Stand 21, founded over 45 years ago in Dijon, France. Stand 21 is a leader in head-to-toe, made-to-measure racing gear. Following the most stringent safety and medical standards, Stand 21 products are conceived, engineered, designed, and entirely hand-crafted within their own facilities. His success quote says it all: “I spend my life to work on safety.” After seeing a driver burn up on the track when Yves was a young boy, he decided his life’s mission would be to protect drivers from fire and injury.
Lastly, Toto Lassally is the CEO of Speedcom Communications. They are one of the most recognized names in communications equipment for the motorsports industry. They provide racers and teams with state of the art products and accessories. Communication on the track between the driver and pits is crucial to safety and having a communication system that doesn’t work well can be the reason for a loss, or worse. He’s passionate about racing and his success quote made me chuckle. “Get up every morning, grab the bull by the balls, twist them twice, and hang on for the ride!” And his final words of wisdom represent his philosophy about business and life: “Don’t ever let someone talk you out of doing something you love.” Amen.

As you can see, these guys share another common trait: they all have a guiding principle within a success quote or two. 

Toto, Jim, and Yves have built brands that focus on what they are designed to provide and not on their price points. Safety.

None of these successful businessmen are in a race to the bottom. What I learned from talking with them is something I think all performance drivers should keep in mind: The next time you are trying to decide about which parts or gear to buy for your racing or driving habit, don’t cut corners and race to the bottom. Give this some thought before parting with your hard earned money.
– Mark Greene

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