Views & Notes: July 2016 Edition | Performance Racing Industry
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Views & Notes: July 2016 Edition
By Dan Schechner on July 5, 2016

* Get Kookin: We weren’t entirely sure what to expect when our friends at Kooks Headers and Exhaust invited us to their Statesville, North Carolina, headquarters for a visit in late May. Which is just as well, because any prior expectations would have been summarily overwritten by our own firsthand experience. In a word, impressive.

Shortly after arrival—and a welcome dose of morning joe—we were treated by our hosts Mike Alvarez and Matt Neal to a behind-the-scenes tour of the company’s global base of operations. The facility, which produces upwards of 6000 precision headers each year, runs, as one might assume, like a well-oiled machine.

From the manufacturing space we were met by none other than George Kook, Jr., who told us about the company’s latest high-tech investments, including a light scanner that speeds the process of 3D modeling exponentially (20 times faster than previous methods, Kook said) simply by waving an iron-like mechanism over the vehicle, engine bay or other area. The system then transports that image directly into a design program. “It starts with the technology, the tools and the personnel,” Kook added. “That’s really what keeps us on top of the game. We’re always trying to stay five years ahead of everybody else.”

But new tools often require a new toolshed, and in Kooks’ case that translates to a 20,000-square-foot do-it-all space about 20 miles down Interstate 77 in Mooresville. The new building will house a host of functions, from sales and marketing to R&D to validation and emissions testing, among others. Move-in should begin over the summer, with full capacity anticipated by January 2017. For the latest on Kooks, visit www.kooksheaders.com.

* Life Saving: Having recently fulfilled his duties as grand marshal for the NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, former Top Fuel racer Doug Herbert will crisscross the country this month as he continues raising awareness for a cause that hits particularly close to home.

Herbert, who in 1992 became the first driver to clock a sub-4.9 at the Winternationals in Pomona, returns to the city’s Los Angeles County Fairplex in July to host his acclaimed B.R.A.K.E.S. program. An acronym for Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe, B.R.A.K.E.S. was established in 2008 as a driving school for teenagers and parents following the tragic passing of Herbert’s two young sons in an auto accident.

Since its inception, the intensive half-day training course has graduated an astounding 20,000 teens from over 30 states. A tight student-to-teacher ratio, highly skilled instructors, top-notch curriculum, and requirement that at least one parent attend with each teen ensures the program hits multiple touch points with precision accuracy. And clearly it’s working. According to a recent survey, graduates of Herbert’s program are nearly two-thirds less likely to be involved in an accident than non-graduates during their first three years on the road.

This month, B.R.A.K.E.S. will be at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. (7/9 and 7/10), followed by stops in Southern California (Pomona on 7/16 and 7/17; Fontana on 7/23 and 7/24), Manheim, Pennsylvania (7/23 and 7/24) and then back to the Southland (San Diego on 7/30 and 7/31). For more information or to register for a school, visit www.putonthebrakes.org.     

* Swan Song: And finally, it won't be the same around here without John Kilroy, our Vice President/General Manager who steered PRI through a period of transition/evolution following our acquisition by SEMA in 2012. For a full accounting of his own transition, read John's final blog entry on the PRI website.

And when you do, understand that John gave this company his all for three decades. In fact, when addressing the team, he often liked speaking in terms of sports analogies. So the best I could come up with for him is that John Kilroy left it all on the court. Every PRI Trade Show, every issue of PRI Magazine, and every opportunity to promote the industry, John came at it with an energy and optimism that was truly infectious.

We'll miss you, John, and wish you nothing but happiness and success in whatever lies around that next turn.

About the Author
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Dan Schechner is the Editor of Performance Racing Industry Magazine.
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