You know, if we all ran our race teams like our new government is planning on running our country, we wouldn't be racing very long at all. I heard a couple of figures on a Fox News financial broadcast this morning that caught my attention and I thought I'd pass them on to you. Rewind the clock 18 months ago to 2007, on average Americans spent $1.20 for every $1.00 they made. We were spending ourselves into debt all the while fueling a robust, albeit artificially inflated, economy.
Fast forward to today and you find that we Americans are spending $0.95 for every dollar we make. That nearly 21 percent decrease in consumer spending over the last 18 months has, in many sectors, stalled the economy. The good news is that Americans have seemed to figure out that you can't continue to spend more money than you make and hope to be able to maintain a certain standard of living. Something had to change and, my friends, it has.
Racing is no different. I talk to a lot of racers from around the country every week and inevitably there's always some concern about where they'll be budget-wise in the meat of the season. Answer this question: Are you going to have enough cash on hand to make that late-season championship run? Or are you going to be the one racing on old tires hoping and praying that your closest competitor suffers the plight of a mechanical gremlin. The only way to avoid being racer No. 2 is to take a critical look at your program now.
Ideally, this should've been done prior to the start of the season, but if you're like most of us racers, then the focus was more on getting the car ready for opening night than planning for how much cash you're going to need on September 12. Tires, fuel, and diesel for the tow vehicle are all critical items to include in your spending plan, but properly budgeting for the unforeseen is the absolute key to have enough cash to make that late season push.
Let's say for example you're coming out of Turn 4 to the white flag and the guy inside of you decides to use your car as a cushion to get a better run off the corner. You end up in the wall with some damage to the right front. Upon further investigation, "some" damage turns into "a lot" of damage and now you've got to spend $550 to get the car race-ready by next week.
If, in your early season prep, you didn't plan for an incident like that you're likely going to have to scramble for the cash to cover the new parts. However, you could be better prepared for just such an event. In my pre-Circle Track racing days, we always had a "crash fund." Basically, what we did was take a percentage of the winnings each week and put it in a separate savings account. Over the course of the season, that savings grew, sometimes quickly, depending on how well we did. If we had a wreck, such as the one I described, we had the money to cover parts replacement.
Now there are two critical things to remember if you're going to follow that type of practice, under no circumstances can you take money out of the crash fund for something other than critical parts replacement. Notice I said "critical." Fixing cosmetic damage by pilfering your crash fund is a no-no. In the heat of the season, race cars don't need to look pretty, they need to go fast.
The second thing to remember is that the crash fund must be kept separate from the main racing budget for tires, fuel, food, entry, and so on. Treat it like money you don't have and it'll be there when you need it most.
Finally, and this possibly could be the hardest temptation to resist, but if you were lucky and you haven't used a dime of the crash fund by the end of the season then leave it right where it is for next year. You'll have a bigger nest egg for the upcoming season and a bigger cushion in case something major goes down.
By the way, that Fox News report also said that the President's new economic stimulus package equates to government spending of approximately $2.00 for every $1.00 they make from our taxes. So gang, until next month, save your pennies and remember...