Team building exercises are important for modern companies. They promote trust, mitigate conflict, encourage communication, and increase collaboration according to Forbes magazine. Teams of analysts, business consultants, and entire companies dedicate themselves to running the numbers to determine exact profit and productivity as they correlate to these exercises. The data drilled down to exact relationships, made into a marketable investment for employers, is presented as something that can directly influence a company’s output at the individual level. However, as a writer, I would have to look in a different direction; simply enjoying a common interest among employees as a fun activity is not a science experiment or business venture. It should be nothing more than entertainment and not scrutinized as anything beyond that. With that said, we recently engaged in our form of team building at an annual event many of our ECS family take part in for some down-home Ohio fun. While some companies go to sports games, take trips to theme parks, or enjoy a company movie night, we stay a little more true to form: we go racing.
This past weekend, while I was nearly dying in Raleigh driving my E30, the rest of ECS went to Dragway 42 for a run what ya’ brung drag race. During my first year at ECS, I took part and had a blast. I had never raced on a drag strip before, most of my experience involves corners. It was an absolute thrill and something I would encourage everyone to do at least once. Last year, the event was rained out, much to everyone’s dismay. This year, the weather was perfect, the air was dry and cool, and a ton of ECS folks went out to run their project cars, dailies, and weekend warriors down the 1/4th mile for a bit of friendly competition.
I say friendly competition, but it was more just a ‘test and tune.’ For the ECS crew, that meant seeing some disappointing numbers as they were all spanked by our VW project coordinator’s dad’s MK7 Golf R, which ran the fastest time of the evening, deep in the 11’s. That said, everyone reportedly had a wonderful time just hanging out together, sharing an evening with their cars, and actually sending them up the strip.
Some notable appearances were Thomas Demrovsky’s recently finished Euro E36 swapped with an LS engine, Dave Siebert’s VR6 Corrado SLC, and Tim’s Audi A7 that we affectionately call a ‘donk’ thanks to his oversized Avant Garde wheels and stock ride height. Additionally, a few of the Summer Drift Series boys showed up with their drift cars to see if they could drive a straight line. Just driving the cars all-out up the strip make for an excellent team-building exercise, as we all can release some pent-up energy without worrying too much about breaking anything.
With drag racing on the 1/4th mile, there isn’t too much risk. It is an excellent way to gain some seat time, get used to being watched while you drive, and allow you to set goals for your car as you chase times and tighten up your launches, shifts, and car control. It isn’t as exciting as drifting or hitting a road course for a track day, but it is a lower risk, still plenty of fun, and much less costly. If you had to choose between a movie night and a night at the strip, I can’t think of too many car enthusiasts that would turn their noses up at some racing. Unless, of course, their car has been on jack stands since we had a sane administration in the White House.
Even those without ‘performance’ cars can come to have fun. Our photographer, Hannah Miller, still runs her mostly stock Mitsubishi Lancer, and friends of employees bring what they have in the garage, like Parker and his bone-stock E30 325i. With no focus on competition, just running the cars, a relaxed evening of fun and some goal setting makes for a perfect team-building exercise.
Sadly, as I mentioned, I wasn’t able to make it this year and participate. Next year, though, I will certainly be there, provided the event doesn’t happen the same weekend as BFI’s O’Fest. Maybe I need to request that we plan that event well in advance so I can do both…