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Performance Racing Industry

Performance Racing Magazine

diamondLife™ Brand Manager, Anil Gupta
Key Interview for "Race Shop Overhaul"
by Tina Dhamija

   

When it comes to outfitting a race shop, the good news is buyers have many options. The trick to getting it right is knowing where to start and what to use to get the most out of the available space.

“The trends are twofold:  performance and appearance,” noted Anil Gupta at diamondLife™ Gear, a performance storage and gear manufacturer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Consumers are demanding high-performance equipment for their work spaces. They are not satisfied with consumer grade equipment from local stores, and are demanding tough commercial grade fixtures. Appearance is also becoming increasingly important.”

Shure Manufacturing is a race shop equipment supplier in Washington, Missouri, and Peter Richardson has taken note of some industry trends as well. “There has always been a premium on productivity in race shops,” he said. “A well organized and efficient shop will allow technicians to maximize their productivity while working on expensive, high-performance engines and car parts.”

“Race shop owners want visibility and versatility to showcase the quality of their tools and equipment, alongside their honored awards and their care or finished vehicles.” noted Mark Learned of Corona, California-based Grid Iron.

When speaking with our contacts about the latest trends in outfitting race shops, some noticed a trend toward a stronger emphasis on flooring.

“The industry has put high emphasis on an easy-down, easy-up floor that can withstand the weight of a forklift and looks good,” said Randy Nelson at Swisstrax Interlocking Floor Tile, in Palm Desert, California. He mentioned his company receives custom logo requests for flooring as well. “We are capable of logo inserts for teams and their sponsors.”

Brian Horowitz of On the Edge Marketing in Foothill Ranch, California, agreed. “I think on the trends side, it’s the logo tile, with the interlocking tile that people are looking for,” he said. “so, they’re putting their Chevy or Dodge, or Corvette logo into the tile, and then it’s pretty interesting because a lot of these guys are taking the tile and putting it in their race trailers. Also, diamond plated anything is a hot item.”

New Products

The pursuit of an ideally organized and outfitted race shop is an ongoing one for racers. Our contacts noted that this season, there are some great new products to solve issues of storage, improved workspace, and more.

“Lista now offers a more versatile cabinet housing that allows storage of a wider range of contents,” said Ed Piotrowski at Lista International, Holliston, Massachusetts. “Eleven different drawer depths with usable widths of 18 to 52 inches can be incorporated into the new full or shallow depth ‘Combination’ cabinets.”

Shure Manufacturing also has some new offerings for the race shop market. “Our new ShureTech Bench Systems offer the combined tool storage with a large work surface in a portable or stationary bench,” said Richardson. “Shure has also introduced the Shure Reel Cabinet to house and organize the service reels (air, water, oil, electric, light). Shure’s Space saver cabinet is another new product that allows the technician access to a secured location to obtain necessary parts and equipment to maximize productivity.”

Danny Delamater of Delson Products, Santa Fe Springs, California, explained that his company has been busy building custom products for race shops. “What’s been hot is basically, a team coming in and saying, ‘We’re starting a new shop and heres our floor layout. What do you suggest?’ And then we come in there and basically decide the width, height, depth, and it allows them to create their own shop at a fraction of the cost of someone going, ‘Well, that’s a custom charge.’”

“diamondLife™ has just introduced its new line of GridWall MX™, which is a storage/organization fixture complementing its existing SlatWall MX™ and PegBoard X2™ product lines,”
said Gupta. “All fixtures are commercial grade and built for heavy-duty use. Most are even load rated – our smallest pegboard will hold up to one-half ton.”

AAP, Milford, Virginia, markets and services specialized hearing, cooling and power products.  “One of the newest things we have is a reverse cycle heat pump with back-up electric heat for the transporters,” noted Bill Harris. “We’ve gotten to where they’re using them in lower temps than they used to. So, what happens then is the hear pump is not effective. So, we have automatic back-up electric hear to supplement the heating system, should the temps get so low that the heat pump is no longer adequate.”

BEST SELLERS

Along with new product releases, our contacts, also mentioned some of their company’s most popular products for outfitting and organizing race shops.

“The System 7 and Action Station products are growing significantly in popularity,” noted Roger Hiscock at System 7 North America, Campbellville, Ontario, Canada. “Our Action Station is an ideal product for areas of limited space. With its patented lock and fold-away work surface (which incidentally can support 136 pounds), it has become very popular with the weekend racer for their trailers, and vans, etc.”

Hiscock noted the following trends in race shop cabinets, fixtures and flooring. “By utilizing the modular concept, our clients can mix and match the components and accessories to best suit the type of products that they are working on and their working environment,” he said. “Our customers have fallen head over heels for the height adjustable bench legs, the infinitely adjustable accessory rails that allow the user to place the cabinets, tool boards, louver panels, overhead lights and power source to their desired working height for overall comfort and increased productivity.”

Ricky Sanders at Pitboxes.com, Stockbridge, Georgia, noted the following trends in the race shop cabinets market. “The main thing we do is mobile stuff, such as the pit boxes, because a lot of guys are using our boxes around the shop.

“Overall, our boxes are all aluminum construction,“ he continued. “so, they’re more durable and lighter, which works more for transporting them, but it also helps the boxes be very versatile around the shop.”

“For guys buying stuff for the workshop, it’s usually our work bench series box that’s most popular, which is work bench height,” he continued. “So if a guy’s putting a motor in or out, then he can lay out his parts and such on top of the box and just have everything there, real handy. You can work right off the top of it and it’s protected with the spray on bead line finish.”

diamondLife™ Gear’s Gupta noted, “Our storage and organization products and flooring products are our strongest sellers. However, our line of MX moldings gets overlooked, but actually is one of our strongest lines. Real aluminum and stainless steel moldings that are self adhering not only protect a race shop from unsightly wall damage, but also add a great appearance.”

Workbenches and portable pit carts are some of Delson Products’ most popular products for race shops. “Strong sellers are our work benches for the shops and pit carts,” said Delamater. “We build a wide variety of them and we only advertise for a few because everybody likes to change.  Our most popular would be our work benches because we can make them in any length, we’ll give you any style or deign and you can pick out your drawer sizes that you want to go with, you can also pick out your shelving cabinets. You can make it all drawers or all shelving and we can build it to your liking.”

Aside from new releases in cabinetry and overall organizational products, our contacts also had some solid product recommendations to report in race shop safety, flooring, and cleaning items.

“Non-Skid Tape is a popular item for outfitting a race shop,” noted Paul Northrop of ISC Racers Tape, Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. “Non-Skid is the easy way to prevent slipping and falling with its instant, self-adhesive, anti-slip surface. It makes walking, stepping or climbing safer for everyone.”

Swisstrax’s Nelson also had some feedback about what flooring types sell best for those working on outfitting a race shop. “The solid surface floor – Diamondtrax and Floortrac – are hands down the highest in demand,” noted Nelson. “But, our Ribtrax product solves the issues for ease of maintenance and has the added benefit of durability and design.”

“Any of our automatic floor scrubbers with cylindrical scrub brushes have proven to be strong performers in the race shop environment,” explained Sara Thurston of Nilfisk-Advance, a manufacturer of professional cleaning equipment, located in Plymouth, Michigan. “The scrub brushes are available in various materials ranging from very soft to varying degrees of aggressiveness. These work well on the painted and finished concrete that is being used as a flooring surface. The cylindrical brush action also sweeps the fine dust particles as it scrubs the floor surface”.

PIMP MY SHOP

Taking your race shop from dutiful workspace to sleek hub of productivity can take some hard work, and knowing where to start and what to buy are the keys to achieving your goals. Here are some valuable tips for anyone planning on purchasing products to effectively organize and outfit a race shop.

“Racers need to consider two factors when planning their race shop workspace: versatility and mobility,” advised Pitrowski at Lista. “Most teams work in limited areas with limited budgets; consider combining storage and work surface into one footprint. It will save your floor space and put less pressure on the budget. Also, consider workspace mobility; you’ll probably want to take your workspace with you, from the shop to the trailer to the track. Also, cleaning up around the race shop becomes a lot easier and faster when your equipment is on caster.”

In terms of organization specifics, Gupta at diamondLife™ Gear offered the following advice. “Figure what equipment needs to hang from a hook and what needs to sit on a shelf, then decide what style of fixture you like from a functional and aesthetic standpoint: pegboard, slatwall, or gridwall,” he said. “Get rack shelving units for the sitting stuff. Get hooks for the hanging stuff.  Install, organize, and smile every time you walk into your shop seeing how wonderful it looks with everything in its place and a place for everything!”

Thurston at Nilifisk-Advance had some specific advice for purchasing race shop cleaning equipment. “When outfitting your race shop with cleaning equipment, look for equipment that offers new technologies – such as detergent dispensing that will increase the operators productivity and will also protect the environment,” she said.

When asked to prioritize the top three things people are looking for when outfitting a race shop, out contacts offered the following insights.

“One, space. The more space available the better,” said Shure’s Richardson. “Two, organization.  A more organized shop is a more efficient shop. Organization affords less time looking for parts and more time being productive working on the car. Three, image. A clean, organized shop with matching color equipment is a great environment to work in. Technicians are more likely to stay or be recruited into a great shop, and customers and friends will love to visit.”

Nelson at Swisstrax cited the top four things he feels business owners should look for when shopping to outfit their race shops. “Durability, design, functionality, and price point.” He also stressed the importance of getting flooring samples.

Other contacts agreed that quality flooring is very important when outfitting a race shop.

“The most important thing in the shop is the floor,” noted Mike Ramy at Precision Epoxy Products in Douglasville, Georgia. “So you want to make sure you have plenty of square footage and protect the base as much as possible, and you want it to be as aesthetically eye pleasing as possible. And you want to do it right the first time, so you’re not always having to redo it every few months. If you use a cheaper product, you’re going to have to be recoating that floor every six to 12 months.

Valspar Flooring, Minneaplois, Minnesota, has a new flooring solution for race shops this season. “Valspar Flooring’s new EC-17 UVR Epoxy uses advanced polymer chemistry to deliver a UV-resistant, color-stable option in the low odor, very low VOC, epoxy-based flooring,” explained Lysa Young. “While epoxy coatings are an excellent medium for decorative quartz and flake broadcast systems, over time, UV exposure can give traditional epoxies an amber hue. The discoloration could make the floor appear dirty and not true to its original color scheme. EC-17, also provides good chemical and wear resistance, making this product ideal for storefront areas and lighter maintenance areas.”

Describing the durability needed in race shop flooring, Young also mentioned her company’s most popular product. “The cost effectiveness and improved color stability of Valspar Flooring’s highly versatile EC-15 UVR Epoxy makes this performance floor coating the epoxy choice for vinyl chip, quartz broadcast and colored, seamless, floors,” she said. “The chemical resistance and scratch resistance of our product offers great benefit in race shop maintenance areas. These concrete coatings retain their color and gloss in these highly demanding environments, enabling facility owners to show off their shop floor.”

When shopping for the right race shop flooring to meet your shop’s needs, Young advised, “Use color and patterns in your flooring to differentiate areas and to guide traffic flow and consider any area you customers see – including vehicle maintenance areas – as an opportunity to make you company shine. Concrete coatings and seamless flooring systems provide a durable, attractive and easy-to-maintain solution. Ultimately, determine the demands of each area – chemical exposure, heavy pedestrian or wheeled traffic, color stability – and choose a flooring product that matches those needs.”

“Don’t be nervous,” said Gupta. “Start slow if it suits you better. Start with a few fixtures and see how you like them. Rome wasn’t built in one day. Your shop didn’t become a mess in one day.  Oh yeah, and have lots of fun with it. As Henry Ford said – doing a common thing uncommonly well brings success.”

Lista’s Piotrowski stressed the importance of quality and durability when outfitting a race shop. “Invest in quality,“ he said. “Your equipment must be durable to endure the rigors of the racing world. Look at the materials and the construction. Investigate the product warranty. Second best doesn’t win races.”


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