We’ve got to admit that this may be a first for us. Every month, Circle Track brings our readers tons of hard-core tech articles showing you how to make your racing life a little easier, safer, and more successful. We’ve done stories on everything from engine builds, to organizing your pit crew, to building your own race trailer. But—at least in recent memory—we’ve never run a tech article on a store.

But Roush Yates Parts is doing things differently enough that we think it’s worth taking a closer look. On the surface, it may not seem all that unique. After all, NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have been selling their used, unwanted components for years. But never before has a anyone involved with top-level stock car racing made this much effort to help Saturday-night racers find the parts that they can use and need.

“Previously, you just about had to buy directly from the teams,” explains Bucky Gregory, Roush Yates Parts’ Vice President of Sales. “And some teams may be willing to sell you the stuff they don’t want any more, but they don’t make it a priority because their primary focus is winning races. Selling parts doesn’t directly correlate to winning races, so it’s like they see it as a waste of resources. If they can get the money they need to keep racing from their sponsors, race winnings, and other resources, then making a couple extra bucks by selling used parts really isn’t worth the trouble.”

Gregory points out that even though some Cup teams were willing to sell parts, they didn’t put much effort into sorting components or identifying what required special attention from the teams buying the stuff. Mainly, they were only interested in selling to other professional teams that already knew exactly how to use what they were getting and were local so that they didn’t have to worry about packaging and shipping a bunch of heavy race parts.

And while Roush Yates Parts is part of the same business family as Roush Yates Engines Group, which builds engines for everyone from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to the local Saturday-night racer, Roush Yates Parts isn’t involved with any specific race team, and its primary goal is to sell parts.

“Every race team works on a budget,” Gregory says. “Even the Cup teams, but they just work on a budget that’s hard for the rest of us to imagine. Most Saturday-night guys, you can tell what type of night they had at the racetrack by how many torn up parts are piled up outside their shops on Monday.

“Most Saturday-night racers, even if they have a fairly good sponsor,” he continues, “have trouble getting all the quality equipment they need. So they have to cut corners if they are going to get on the racetrack. And when you cut corners with your engine parts you break down more than you need to. With your chassis parts, you don’t handle as well as you could, and with your safety equipment, you simply aren’t as safe as you can be, and that’s a shame.”

In the Sprint Cup Series, because the stakes are so high, teams that are competing for wins and championships simply can’t afford a broken part. So components are removed from cars well before their useful lives are up. Even if the cost is thousands of dollars or more, the Cup teams consider it cheap insurance to replace it rather than risk losing a race purse that can be upwards of a million dollars.

“There is lots of stuff on a Sprint Cup car that can be used by even someone racing a Street Stock,” Gregory says. “We sell window nets for $25 that have never been in a wreck. The Cup cars are only outside when they are on the track, so they haven’t weathered. You can buy a new net for 25 bucks but it isn’t going to be anywhere near the quality the Cup teams use.

“The same thing goes for other safety equipment. We sell guys from all levels fire bottles, thermal panels, leg braces, even racing seats. Because Cup teams have put the stuff through a few races, we are able to sell it very affordably. And that way a racer can have the very best safety equipment available.”

Roush Yates Parts doesn’t just sell components from Roush Fenway Racing and Roush Yates Engines. The company actually sells used parts on consignment from the majority of the top teams in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. But you can’t go into the shop or call them up and ask for something off of Tony Stewart’s Chevrolet (except for possibly collectible sheetmetal). Everything is sold based on quality so even the Roush Yates Parts employees pulling the parts don’t know where they came from.

One of the issues, no matter where the components come from is making sure they will work for your application, on your car, and the way you like to race. If you can get to the store in Mooresville, North Carolina, to search through the warehouse-sized facility and choose your own parts, then you have nothing to worry about. But that’s simply not a possibility for race teams in other areas of the country. For that, Gregory says Roush Yates Parts has chosen a group of customer service specialists specifically for the job. Some are former fabricators, some are engine builders, others have worked on NASCAR Sprint Cup teams, but all have extensive racing experience.

“In the last year we’ve moved our facility and gone from 10,000 square feet to nearly 70,000. We’ve gone from six employees to 32 and growing. But we’ve also been very picky about the people we’ve brought on board,” Gregory says. “The guys behind the counter working with customers are all racers themselves or have been with teams.

“And that’s important not only for helping our customers find the right parts they need, but also for making sure we never sell anything that isn’t a good, quality racing component. Everything that comes through our doors goes through our quality control checks. We don’t sell anything that we haven’t inspected ourselves. We’ve even got a guy with an engineering degree helping us keep watch over our inventory and get rid of anything that can cause a racer trouble before we sell it to him. Everything gets at least a visual inspection and all electrical components are tested on a bench.”

Items that aren’t sold aren’t simply thrown into the dumpster as was commonly the practice with many race teams previously. Instead, RYP has installed a recycling program to keep as much as possible out of the landfill. Steel, aluminum, and other metal parts are sold for scrap. And other materials, like tires, batteries, and oil, are also recycled wherever possible. Lots of racing series brag about going “green” by burning ethanol additives in their race fuels, but this is actually the most environmentally friendly action we’ve heard of being taken in the racing industry in a long time.

Going green is nice, but we understand that the main concern is improving your results on the racetrack. To get a better idea of just what’s available, we asked Gregory to give us a quick rundown of some of the best deals he normally sees.

“There are great values throughout,” he says. “Cup teams spend millions on R&D, and the normal rule of thumb for them is to cycle out parts at about 25 to 30 percent of a part’s expected lifespan. So you can get a lot of laps out of this stuff. And some of it will practically last forever; like carbon-fiber cooling ducts, a collapsible steering shaft, or overflow tanks.

“And then there’s the stuff we’re able to sell that the Cup teams have never taken out of the box,” he continues. “Because of the limited test dates those guys have, they are forced to do a lot of their testing on the racetrack. So when they find something new, that means all the old stuff is instantly obsolete. Not only the part on the car, but that same part on the backup car and they usually have a couple of spares on the truck. And if we’re talking about a multi-car team, now we’re talking about multiplying that by two or three or four. That stuff is still good, the guys on the Cup team have simply found something they like better.

“We know racers have been struggling in this economy,” he adds. “I know lots of guys that have had to park their cars because they just couldn’t afford it. I think what we are doing can help a lot of people enjoy racing again. And not only that, but we can help them do it better and safer.”

SOURCE
Roush Yates Performance Products
122 Knob Hill Road
Mooresville
NC  28117
877-604-8077
www.roushyatesparts.com