LOLMDS team owner talks business operations from the highway; Details the financial goals of his race team
For 61 days of the year, Ronnie Stuckey can be found at the dirt track for a race. He and his new driver Earl Pearson Jr have hit the road with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. 61, that doesn’t count travel days or even testing days, which are probably just as frequent as actual race days.
In between all that, Ronnie Stuckey has a few businesses to operate. He’s the owner of Black Diamond Chassis which is based in Louisiana. In addition, he’s also the owner of Advanced Powder Coating.
It’s easily 100+ days of road work between February-October alone. Through the 9 month season, about 50% of the time, the team is heading to or already located at a dirt track at a wide range of locations.
How do you balance running a business and a race team that’s on the road so much?
“Well, there ain’t no doubt that comes from having good help,” Ronnie Stucky explained to RacingNews.co.
“So, you got good help running your businesses as far as your assembly of the race cars and the building of the chassis with the fab shop. Then, you have to have good help on the race team also.”
“That way, you can kinda just oversee the guys that are doing to the lead performance in each of those businesses. So, it’s really not that tough, if you have good help in each of the industries.”
So, you’re just managing one person and they’re taking care of the rest?
“Yeah. Now, granted that one person, your shop foreman or your crew chief — He has to have good people underneath him too. As long as you get good people around you, you can make it work without too many headaches.”
Did it start with you welding up the cars?
“No. Myself and BJ Robinson used to do a lot of clip repairs. We’ve done a lot of clip repairs for Moyer’s Victory Circle cars and MasterSbilt’s.”
“But, when it came to building the chassis, we brought a welder in.”
Mike Humphrey was the lead welder for Stuckey Enterprises. In April 2017, he was killed in a car wreck at age 52.
“He brought him in from the get-go. He helped us on the tubing bender and the notcher to kinda get all that up to speed.”
This interview came in two separate pieces. At the track, it can be hard to find Ronnie outside of the trailer. Generally, he’s glued to the shock dyno that sits inside the hauler on race days. Shocks are basically an endless puzzle. Though, he’s currently looking for an employee to delegate that shock responsibility to.
But, when the team owner ventured outside of the hauler I had a few more questions…
Profitable race team?
Is the goal to make the race team profitable? Or is it more of an R&D write off?
“I don’t know if you look at it from a write off perspective. In the house car program — We test all the time.”
“You’ll put your data system on there, run some laps and make some changes. Then, you wanna be able to take them changes back to your shop and help your race program. But, you’re also wanting to help your racers.”
“I think the whole point of it — You’re gonna get your money back selling race cars. There are some teams out there such as Scott Bloomquist and Mark Richards that at the end of the year, they’re profitable.”
“If they do their homework, stack their sponsors together, take care of their sponsors so they can keep them for the following year. Then, add to them.”
“As the sport has increased in the amount of money that you spend a year racing these series. Then, you need to be able to increase your sponsorship to be able to have a profit at the end of the year.”
“So, there is a way to put it all together and make a little bit of money out of a race team. But, it takes a lot of good contributors around you to make that happen.”
So, you’re saying it probably can’t be done with a blank car?
“It would be tough. If you have some regional companies in your area that help you, such as motor expenses, insurance, employee’s. If you have some people in your area that contribute to you and you put that with your winnings and you don’t pay the driver then it can be profitable.”
This year, Stuckey Enterprises set out on a new venture with the national dirt late model team. They are currently running full-time with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Earl Pearson Jr brought the Black-Diamond Chassis #1 to victory lane for the first time at Boyd’s Speedway. He collected the $10,000 check on March 23rd via a thrilling last lap pass on Scott Bloomquist.