Monthly Archives: July 2012

G-Force Racing Gear

G-Force Racing Gear is based in Atlanta, Ga., yet has a satellite office in the Speedway Towers at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Executive Account Manager Don Stodola has been administering G-Force programs from Concord since 2008.

A peek through G-Force’s catalogs shows helmets (not just helmets, but helmet bags, supports, restraints and shields), junior racing gear, racing shoes, harnesses, belts, window nets and other safety equipment. You can purchase nose-to-toes fire-retardant underwear as well. A big part of G-Force’s business, and Don’s job, is to cater to the fire and rescue teams at tracks around the country. Specializing in fire-retardant suits and apparel gives G-Force a leg up on the competition. A track safety worker program also falls under Don’s domain.

G-Force has relationships with a large percentage of tracks that host NASCAR Cup events, as well as the ARCA and NHRA series’ fire and safety crews. Materials that make up the fire and safety crew apparel is constantly being evaluated.

Growing up in the Upper Midwest, Don’s background in motorsports included helping various short-track racers tinker on their cars and eventually announcing at race tracks as well as being one of the founders of WISSOTA – a motorsports sanctioning body of oval track racing. Don’s travels took him to Atlanta, where he landed with G-Force, and eventually to Concord.

You don’t have to be here or Atlanta to buy G-Force. There are distributors all over the country and ordering online is easy. In addition to new products, G-Force offers certified pre-owned equipment as well as rewebbing services. Visit it here.


Corinne Economaki



Pat Hill, who owns KoolMat in Mooresville, says she works “with anyone who has a heat problem, from A to Z.”

The product with which she works most, Koolmat, is a high temperature composite insulation consisting of densified silicone, cured directly into the surface and weave of a fiberglass mat.

What is really important is that this material can withstand temperatures up to 2,500 degrees. That’s hot. It is 100 percent Owings Corning fiberglass and 100 percent Owens Corning silicone cooked to 1,000 degrees, which provides the heat resistance needed for Pat to manufacture her products, both custom and not.

Pat has been doing this kind of work for more than 20 years and has developed products for auto racing applications, industrial clients, various engine uses and more specifically for side exhausts for Cobras, Corvettes and T-Bucket cars.

The list of reasons to use Koolmat include:

               Lowers sound
               Abrasion and mildew resistant
               Flexible, easy to cut and install
               Fits under OEM carpeting
               Available in bulk or pre-cut kits
               Won’t peel, crack, dry out, or curl up

Some of the products are shoe boots (to keep driver’s feet cool), wire and ignition sleeving and starter covers (see photos), and turbo covers.

So how did Pat get started in all this? “I’m just a tomboy,” she says.


Corinne Economaki

Robinson Bradshaw

Robinson Bradshaw’s downtown office is an example of a high-end Charlotte law firm. Host to 140 attorneys, it is a full-service corporate firm with more than 25 specialties. They range from corporate transactions to litigation to life sciences and biotechnology – and motorsports.

The motorsports group of 12 lawyers represents a mixed client base. Race car teams, individual drivers, agents, team members, with a toe-dipping in the now defunct American Formula One team. The motorsports group represents drivers in different disciplines of motorsports, and handles mergers and acquisitions as well as licensing, employment contracts and the formation of foundations in the industry.

Seven years ago, a group of fewer than 10 attorneys started to discuss aspects of the law pertaining to motorsports. According to Robinson Bradshaw’s Stoke Caldwell, that group – which became The Racing Attorney Conference – now hosts an annual event with more than 130 attendees. TRAC’s event is a collaboration among attorneys from North Carolina, Indiana (the only other state that has a motorsports association like the NCMA), the North Carolina Bar Association and the Indianapolis Bar Association. These annual conferences cover topics of interest to both groups of lawyers as well as students, chief financial officers of companies involved in motorsports, and certified public accountants.

The meeting alternates years in Charlotte and Indianapolis. A committee chooses topics based on input from members and submits those to either state’s bar association for approval to meet continuing legal education standards. Attorneys must have 12 credit hours a year – the TRAC meeting provides 10 – with two covering ethics.

Thanks to Stoke Caldwell and Matt Efird for their hospitality. Rather than list some of the firms’ motorsports clients, take a peek here.

Corinne Economaki


Maybe you’ve seen the Safety-Kleen areas at tracks that host NASCAR, NHRA or ARCA events. Maybe you’ve seen Safety-Kleen’s presence at race shops or automobile dealerships. And you know what Safety-Kleen does, right?

First, some background. Safety-Kleen has 5,000 employees, is headquartered in Plano, Texas, has 165 branch offices across the continental United States and does business with 400 of the Fortune 500 companies.

You probably knew that Safety-Kleen recycles oil. But did you know it recycles 300 million gallons of oil annually? And out of that 300 million produces 180 million gallons of “new” oil that is sold to retail customers under brand names EcoPower, America’s Choice and Performance Plus? Some of it is sold to government entities, to municipalities, to the United States Postal Services and to Enterprise and National car rental companies. Some of the used oil is used as refinery fuel.

In addition to oil recycling, Safety-Kleen, whose business is half automotive related and half industrial manufacturing based, hauls off byproducts from foundries, disposes of goods like light bulbs according to Environmental Protection Agency specifications, and works with customers to reduce employee hazards and promote alternatives to petrochemical use as well as complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Transportation and EPA standards.

Buddy Judy, who works with the race teams in the area around Charlotte-Mooresville corridor, shared a challenge some of the shops were having regarding hazardous waste. In North Carolina, 220 pounds of what is designated as hazardous waste is exempted from regulation each month. Once a facility goes over that number, EPA steps in and the rules are more stringent. Buddy found that most shops were not recycling spray cans (used for a number of different applications); Safety-Kleen stepped in to solve the challenge. Cans are collected, drained, and the contents recycled and cans scrapped. One race shop can produce 15,000 cans a year; Safety-Kleen helps keep the shop under the 220-pound monthly limit by dealing with the cans.

Safety-Kleen also installs and maintains parts cleaners in all kinds of shops, pulls pigments out of used paint cans (pigment is not hazardous) and extracts and recycles the thinner.

Ever had a jewelry store clean a piece of jewelry in its sonic cleanser? It comes out sparkling. Well, Safety-Kleen has something just like this except bigger. Big enough for engines! Yes, the water is filtered and removes oil and grease and during the scheduled maintenance the water is recycled and filters changed. Amazing.

Corinne Economaki

The Joie of Seating

Randy LaJoie’s racing career started at a young age in a go-kart, and is still going. The Connecticut native competed in modifieds, NASCAR’s Busch Grand National North series, and is a two-time Nationwide champion.

During his early racing career, Randy used a driving seat that belonged to the late Mark Donohue that Randy’s father had purchased. It was a custom, form-fitted fiberglass seat and it sits in his shop to this day. After NASCAR outlawed fiberglass seats, seat makers started using other materials, mostly aluminum.

To say that Randy didn’t like what was out there is an understatement. The Joie of Seating was born and Randy started producing custom form-fitted seats for stock cars, sprint cars, trucks, karts and even racing boats. All seats produced are quality and safety certified by The SFI Foundation, which certifies products for 50 different sanctioning bodies. The seats are mostly aluminum, with sprint car seats a hybrid of aluminum and carbon inlays.

All seats are custom built and are designed to keep drivers from moving during impact. The testimonials on the Joie of Seating website attest to the safety of the seats.

One of the neat aspects of Randy’s business is his focus on safety and his focus on young racers. Since kids grow so fast, Randy will re-figure a growing driver’s seat, again and again if necessary, and they can trade up to another division as they improve. In addition, he started a non-profit foundation, Safer Racer, in which he takes his act on the road to promote safety seating to racers and their benefactors across the country. He will visit up to 40 race tracks in a single season.

Even if you can’t afford the $3,000-$4,000 price tag for a Joie seat, you can purchase add-ons for your existing seat. It’s all about being safe.

Corinne Economaki

Performance Industry & Training

Performance Industry & Training (PIT) in Mooresville is a three-tier operation, starting with pit crew training. Eleven years ago the company started training young men and women on all six pit crew positions in an eight-week program. After they are finished with that, students are invited to participate in a graduate program, which General Manager Bob Plott says is very intense. PIT boasts 19 NASCAR Cup level placements in 2011 and 10 PIT alumni are Cup coaches.

The second tier of the business is contract work for existing race teams in ARCA; NASCAR Cup, Trucks and Nationwide. The PIT folks may be sent to the team facilities, or teams can come to PIT. Practicing pit stops is done outside on a quarter-mile track surrounding the PIT facility, and everything is up-to-date and real – except for the fuel. The PIT training vehicles have an auxiliary water tank and the gasman position uses water instead of fuel. Not only does this reduce risk, water is heavier than fuel so the workout is a little more difficult than under at-track conditions. The pit stalls can be sized to duplicate any track to represent actual at-track conditions. And (yes, there is more), each pit stall has a bullet camera over it to record all stops for further training. And (honestly, this is the last), there is network-approved lighting so the facility can be used for commercials and training videos. Nothing is left to chance.

Corporate training / team building is the third tier of PIT, what the company calls “Lean Performance University.” In 2006 the company won the Best Training Company in America award from Elliott Masie. Corporate clients from all over the country come to PIT, and PIT goes to corporate clients all over the country. It’s a big part of the PIT business, and Plott says clients come back and back again. If you are interested for your business, visit here.

PIT has 12 “race” cars and two trucks as well as a 15-bay garage. There is a full gym and an agility room. PIT also has an in-house catering kitchen and dining area used for corporate meetings and/or functions. So far, students have come from 48 different states and four foreign countries, average student ages are 22, and three ladies a year sign up for the program.

Dixon Hughes Goodman

You might think that accounting firms are dull, boring places peopled by tie-wearing, pocket-protected accountants who crunch numbers all day long.

Not at Dixon Hughes Goodman across from the SouthPark Mall. Go in and you see foosball, dartboards, whoopee cushions and handshake buzzers.

OK, I made that up.

Yet DHG is a pretty interesting place once you dial down into what the firm does. Like a lot of accounting firms, it has areas of expertise, and in this case, Dixon Hughes Goodman represents dealerships – automotive, heavy truck, heavy equipment and motorsports — in all 50 states. With more than 1,700 employees, and 30 offices in 11 states and the District of Columbia, DHG also counts the healthcare field among its specialties. Other areas in which the firm concentrates its abilities include financial institutions, government contracting, insurance, manufacturing and distribution, construction and real estate and not-for-profit and government.

All in all, it’s a pretty comprehensive resume. In addition to plain old taxes (remember, these are the folks who read all the tax codes so we don’t have to), DHG also offers services in the following areas: assurance; corporate governance; advisory (for example, OSHA compliance); mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; sales and use and property tax; fraud, forensic and litigation support; IT risk. If you don’t know what all that stuff means, the DHG staff will be happy to tell you.

If you think you can’t afford a big firm like DHG, think again. It’s worth speaking with someone who could at the very least offer some guidance on what you and your company might need. It might be the best hour you ever spent.

Many thanks to Kevin Dyck and John Snyder, Sr. for their time.

Corinne Economaki



CV Products

CV Products

In 1988 in High Point, N.C., Clyde Vickers opened CV Products in a 1,200-square-foot shop that grossed $600,000 its first year. Today, his Thomasville location, started in 1996, has four buildings for a combined 93,000 square feet. Add to that the Mooresville retail location, 16,000 square feet, and you can see just how far Vickers has come. Oh, and CV Products’ sales are currently in the $30 million range.


Out of the product line offered, 40 percent are manufactured by CV Products: engine parts, valve train and drive system components, pulleys, belt drive systems, chassis parts; and is used by motorsports customers in stock car, dirt late model, sprint car, drag, formula one and Indy car racing.

When Vickers was a boy, his father, a truck driver, use to take him all over the Carolinas to races. He fell in love and even drove in the Southern Late Model series (which morphed into the NASCAR Busch Series). He drove 10 years from the early ’70s into the ’80s. His career path included working at car dealerships and a stint at Richard Childress Racing in the engine department. In 1988 everything changed.

The Thomasville campus houses a distribution center that includes the corporate offices, a retail store and the marketing and sales staff. The 35,000 square foot manufacturing plant is chock full of high-tech equipment and the engineering staff, an incredibly talented group of young folks who design and execute new and revamp products. The hard-coat and anodizing building runs all day, and parts can be processed in different colors! The 10,000 square foot CV Xchange is the newest venture, a retail shop of parts that may have been discontinued. Sort of like bargain basement shopping for motorsports customers.

CV Products still produces a print catalog and even hauls parts to different types of races to support teams at track. Its website offers parts, tech tips and customer service. Take a look for yourself.

Carbotech Performance Brakes

Carbotech Performance Brakes

Carbotech Performance Brakes in Concord. Brake pads. Sound boring? It isn’t. Danny Puskar showed me around his shop and it was fascinating. Carbotech produces brakes and brake pads for cars competing in Grand Am, SCCA, World Challenge, Ferrari Challenge, European rally, and South African road racing to name a few.

The compounds used come from American companies and each box of Carbotech products has a “Made In USA” stamp. There are more than 2,000 different shapes of brake pads, and eight different compounds for different cars and types of racing.

Occasionally Danny will field an unusual request, like the customer who owned an antique tractor that needed new brakes. Could Carbotech help? You bet. The customer sent his old brakes shoes, and new pads were fitted.

Tractors, lawnmowers, military Hummers, fire trucks, vintage cars, you name it, they can help.

Motorsports is 85 percent of Carbotechs business. The other is made up mostly of club racers.

Not boring at all.

Corinne Economaki



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