2011-08-20

Racing-Numbers.com -- my new venture

Racing-numbers.com sponsors my race car Wasabi
Many of you know, but some probably haven't heard about it yet. Last weekend, at a NASA race day, I have launched my new online business called Racing-Numbers.com.

While looking to refresh the looks of my car, I discovered that vinyl can be very expensive, but also very cheap, depending on who you go to. I was lucky to find a supplier who could help me get the numbers, letters, and stripes at a price I could not believe.

So I told him: "Dude, you should sell these to racers, that's so cheap!"
And he said: "Dude, YOU should sell these to racers."

I thought about it for 30 seconds and said Yes.

It took me about a month and a half to figure out the best online storefront provider and to set up the first minimal inventory of products, with examples of each number and letter in all the different colors.

I had to abandon a half-done storefront I was building on an Amazon cloud platform, because there was no way to add comments to the product before or after checkout. That was important so my customers could tell me what exact numbers and class letters they want, such as "23" or "STU" and such.

My next move was to build a store with Volusion, and that was really awesome. Should have gone there from get-go. Everything was easy, and I quickly caught up, and was ready for the launch at Thunderhill.

The reception from my fellow drivers at the track was awesome! People were very supportive and also quite pleased with my prices. Yay!

Racing-numbers.com sponsors my race car Wasabi
I had a box of 500 business cards--fresh off the press--with me and gave away at least 100. Also, I added a spiff new window shade and a decal to the windshield, and another decal on the rear bumper. It was really cool to see physical manifestations of my online business in real-life.

So last night, an order came in from a friend, and this morning, I woke up to an order from someone I don't ever remember meeting. From Massachusetts. Yay again!

I ran a few searches, and it turns out that I make the top 5 results for "racing class letters," and I haven't even done much SEO yet, beyond setting up of the products with clear and consistent descriptions.

All in all, I am super-excited, and am very motivated to add more products as well as get my toes wet with paid online searches to drive some more sales.

Wish me luck!

2011-08-16

About coaching

I love coaching. That's one of the reasons I went to instruct beginning track drivers with NASA. That moment when you see the lightbulb go on, and they get that look on their faces saying "Oh, now I get it!" -- that's what makes it all worthwhile to me.

It is also cool to see my former students at later events, graduating to advanced groups, getting faster and more comfortable on track. Knowledge that I have contributed to a lasting passion is really cool. They may be cursing me later for getting them addicted to the very expensive crack pipe of going fast, but they will be grinning ear to ear while burning through that cash!

I am usually generous with my knowledge and see no reason to not share if someone asks for help.

Sometimes however I think that the advice the person is asking for is not the advice they actually need. Let me tell you a story.

A friend of a friend who I haven't met yet is about to launch a community site for their startup, and asked me to help with some advice and pointers how to make an online community succeed. The community I run has been around for a long time, and I can't claim all of its success, but it sure works, and I have learned a few things about why it is as popular as it is with our users. As is my custom, I emailed back saying that yes, I would be glad to help.

The person asking me for advice proceeded to say, they were available for a conversation in San Francisco, SoMa district. Seriously? Call me old-fashioned, but this is not the way to ask someone for a favour. When I ask someone to help me out and they agree, I usually ask the other person when and where they will be available, and go meet them there instead of offering them options to meet me on my schedule.

Finally, we agree on a time for a phone call, but when the calendar invite arrives, it's for an entirely different date!

I am afraid the person is not going to like my advice.

2011-08-15

Back to school

After much thought, I have decided to step back from racing for a while, and to go back to perfecting my driving. I will be back when I can comfortably turn a 2:15 at Thunderhill on a bad day. That way, I will have people to race with when I come back, instead of turning expensive TT laps all day long.

Being the woman of action, I immediately asked for advice and coaching from some of the great drivers at my club and was able to improve my results by full seven seconds over the course of one day.

I rode with two great Miata drivers, Barry H. and Darsie E., with Barry driving my own car, and I also received in-car instruction from another awesome driver Mario L. who yelled "Gas! Gas! Gas!" and held my right knee down so I would not lift too soon for turns. As a result, I picked up 12 or so mph of exit speed in T1 and T8, cleaned up my line in T9 somewhat, and got to the point where I am almost topping out of 3rd gear in T2.

What made the difference was a combination of several factors:

  • Watching Darsie and Barry get the car around the track fast and noticing the calm in the cockpit.
    The unhurried, relaxed way these two get the cars around corners faster than I ever have, making small corrections here and there, but basically just doing their thing without any drama... I would think of that, and immediately, serenity would descend, and I'd be in the groove.
  • Seeing (and feeling) my own car do great in fast turns and stick at speeds I have never thought possible.
    Knowing that I have a tool comparable to what the good guys work with makes a huge difference. Now at the slightest stir of uncertainty going into a fast turn, I can say "I know she'll stick. She'll do it." It is remarkable how much faster I can go now, just knowing that.
  • Mario's comment that I had good car control.
    I have never heard anyone say that to me before, and I doubted my ability to control the car. Feeling out of control was preventing me from pushing the car to the point where I may need to correct, effectively keeping my performance down out of fear of screwing up.
  • Finally, observing Barry's driving style and realizing that there is nothing wrong with not sawing at the wheel.
    You'll laugh, but let me tell you something. I have many friends who are fast drivers, and all of the ones I observed in-car happen to have this "pitch-and-catch" driving style. I however am more of the smooth and precise kind of driver, the "set it and forget it" type, if you know the jargon. It was really making me uncomfortable, thinking that I had to become the master of the chaos to go fast. Now I see that there is a way to go fast that doesn't go against my nature, and it's really empowering.

So now suddenly driving is much less stressful, and I have made more progress in two days than I have in a year. Somehow, driving even became more fun, even though I thought I was already maxed out.

2011-08-02

Exciting features from Berkeley


The City That Hates Cars has issued me a parking violation for daring to park my car legally, and paying for it, yet only running one license plate on it. The car came with only one plate from the dealer, so I am not even sure it is a violation of the VC 5200(a) as stated in the ticket. But my time is worth it to me, so I will rather pay the fee than contesting the citation, which can only be done in writing (snail-mail) or in person.

So I go to their payment page and there in addition to the $28 that the ticket is for, they are also assessing me a $2 "convenience fee." Like, really? Convenience?

I call BS.