How To Pick The Right Teammates For Your Crapcan Racing TeamS

Now that you have the right car for your crapcan racing project, you need other people to drive and/or work on it with you. Choose wisely, or you'll be at each others' throats.

If you've designated yourself Team Captain/Head Chump/Czar of All Things Mechanically Horrible in the Universe, congratulations! This is my absolute least favorite part of it: trying to play one-woman HR, except with racecars. My racecar.

My problem is that I am too nice to really tell people "no" the way I'd like to sometimes, yet there are people who I know, love and respect (or not) who I know I'd want to stab if I ever had to share a racecar with them. Sometimes personalities just clash with mine: too easily distracted, too lazy or too braggadocious. Other times, their reputation for mechanical wear, tear and destruction precedes them.

Alternately, I would not want to be on a team with carbon copies of myself, either. While I've got the persistence to make it all happen, I don't have the mechanical ability. I need other people who are capable of balancing out most of the things I am suck at doing.

Because of this, I consider myself highly lucky that no one's wanted to stab me over a beater enduro car, either. (Yet.) I have been very, very lucky to find good teammates every time I've attempted to race a crapcan.

Don't be shy about researching potential teammates—especially ones you may not know very well. Ask for references if you've opened yourself up to arrive-and-drive-type situation: both personal and driving-wise. Ask about their prior experience with racing or track driving, and pay close attention to any warning signs they may give off when discussing it. Ask what they're willing to do to make the team happen. Ask, ask, ask. Don't be afraid to say no if any part of what they say or how they come off makes you uncomfortable, either. After all, it is your car.

So, what qualities should you look for in a teammate, exactly?

Like-Mindedness

How To Pick The Right Teammates For Your Crapcan Racing TeamS

Let's get the really obvious one out of the way first: you need to form a team around a common goal. If your goal is to be the fastest team out there, your friend who dreams of importing a Zaporozhet isn't the best fit. Likewise, if you're all in it to have some fun, someone who's ultra-serious about gunning for a trophy will probably just frustrate everyone on the team who's doing this to have fun.

Look for someone who wants the same thing as the rest of the team. Be clear with your team's purpose from the start, and that will help weed many of those who aren't a great fit through self-selection. (Even if that purpose is "we're racing a bunny for total Organizer's Choice domination.")

Experience

How To Pick The Right Teammates For Your Crapcan Racing TeamS

In a perfect world, you'd be able to find crapcan diehards who've done too many events to count without a single black flag or wreck to their name all day long. Empty seat? No problem.

In the real world, most people looking to hop onto a crapcan team haven't done a lot of racing before. Depending on your team's purpose, that is totally fine.

I'm probably scarred for life at this point (especially as I get closer to my first race after one that was ended prematurely via crash), but my advice is to prioritize the ability to make a car last over speed. There are a lot of people who are fast, but hard on equipment. If your goal is to win on laps, finding drivers who both have a lot of experience and have a proven ability to make equipment last should be your first priority.

Again, ask for references. Has this person's prior races proven that they will keep us out of the pits? Do they drive clean, without a lot of bumps and damage? Crapcans are too fragile and contact is discouraged enough for "rubbin'" to have anything to do with "racin'" in most of these series, so this is key. Have they driven the track we're going to next? Where all have they raced before? And most importantly, do all their fanciful stories of domination check out?

For everyone else, though, just make sure they know how to behave on a road course. Track driving is a bit different than street driving, and even more so when surrounded by race traffic. So, look for experience that shows they have a basic understanding of car control. Other track and race events are best, but autocross, drifting and even rallycross are good indicators that they know how to handle a car's limits.

Even if they haven't before, try to make sure your teammates get on a road course at least once before you race the car—preferably with instruction. If that's something you're comfortable doing, toss a seat in the passenger side of the car and offer to help your teammates get better at driving. A crapcan race still really isn't the ideal place to learn the basics of how to handle a racecar at speed. Get it out of the way before you show up.

Mechanical Ability

How To Pick The Right Teammates For Your Crapcan Racing TeamS

Cars that are allegedly worth $500 break a lot: fact. They also take a lot of work to get ready for the race, as I'm now finding out with my basket-case 944.

At least one person on or around your team needs to have some wrenching affinity. Look for people who can work on things without getting impatient, mad or frustrated. I am not this person. Anyone like that is an asset to a team.

People who can do work the right way (or at least questionably rig something together in a way that works) in a timely manner are a must-have for a crapcan racing team. Look for teammates who come with knowledge of the car you're racing or something similar: past owners, mechanics and/or outright nerds.

The car is going to break. It's really just a question of when and how.

Organizational Skills

How To Pick The Right Teammates For Your Crapcan Racing TeamS

This is another category where you need at least one person around your team's space who is full-on type-A to a loveable fault. Even if you actually have to get someone's mother to pick up after your messy selves, it's absolutely necessary for the team's sanity to have someone who's good at organization.

Every step of the way from building the car to organizing test days to running the actual weekend needs to be put together in a mostly organized fashion. There are items you can't forget. Pieces you can't leave off. Steps you can't skip or show up late to if you want to enjoy the whole weekend of track time.

Not being able to find things like tools or tech sheets at critical times will, in fact, drive you all insane.

Find someone who can still get along with the rest of the group and keep your team neat and tidy.

Enthusiasm

How To Pick The Right Teammates For Your Crapcan Racing TeamS

Ideal teammates aren't just looking for a team to join. They're excited about the team itself.

Enthusiasm is a good enough substitute for ability in any kind of amateur racing that I can't stress its importance enough. Many half-finished racecar projects are sitting untouched in peoples' yards due to waning enthusiasm.

This is how you find people who want to get better at driving, so they lend the team their data system or sign everybody up for practice time in the car. These are also the kinds of people who want to get better at wrenching to the point where they buy their own tools, or get a copy of the factory service manual.

Is it preferable to find someone who both really, really wants to do a crapcan race and has the talent already there to make it happen? Of course. But can a handful of newbies who have the follow-through and desire to do some racing finish a car on time and go race it with some modicum of success? Absolutely, and sometimes they might be better to keep around than some of the more jaded guys with experience.

Complementary Personalities

How To Pick The Right Teammates For Your Crapcan Racing TeamS

If you've noticed a theme throughout this article, it's that everyone you pick to be on a team needs to balance each other out. You need a couple members who can roll with the punches, but an entire team who's all so laid-back that they can't follow through and get a car done is the worst of all worlds.

Teams without anyone who can wrench also often suffer a similar fate: the car gets declared "over their heads" and sits, untouched, in someone's garage indefinitely.

Likewise, a team where one person is doing all the work is more likely than most to implode upon itself, usually either by someone blaming that one guy for a significant issue with the car or for that one guy getting fed up and tired of the whole situation. If you've only got one singular wrench on the team, it really has to be a guy who's overly enthusiastic about being the fixer-upper.

Teams with clashing personalities tend to implode spectacularly, too. Sometimes, it's unavoidable given the levels of stress, but not choosing someone you constantly fight with or know to cause a lot of drama is a start.

Conclusion, or Qualities to Avoid

If "Flat Out" guy was a real person, he'd be a pretty accurate summary of everything to avoid in a beater enduro teammate. Arrogance, terrible driving, the inability to back up anything he says with fact and the idea that everything bad that happens is always someone else's fault are four reasons I'd avoid someone for life, much less invite them to be on a beater enduro team.

Everyone has that personality that they can't stand to be around. If you know that type to look for, by all means, avoid having these people on your crapcan team.

Furthermore, if they lack the ability to follow through on things, they probably aren't a good fit for your team. Again, references are a wonderful thing and can tell you which teammates will show up with a car that's ready and which ones will send you scrambling for forgotten items that cause you to fail tech.

You need other people around who look at your timeline, pronounce it doable, and proceed to help make it happen. If someone around your team is always taking a dump on your plans but has no specific, helpful feedback on how to make them better or more feasible, by all means, kick them to the curb.

Granted, the exact opposite of unrealistic yes-men is just as undesirable. Nothing is more crushing than being led to believe something is doable only to find out that you don't have the time, resources or skill to pull it off at the last minute. Find people with reasonable expectations of the team and its abilities who are reliable and willing to work a bit, and you're golden.

Realistic expectations are a must. If you quote someone a fair share of the cost, for example, and they try to argue that amount down based on one outlier team's fees, the cost of running cheaper events, or what have you (or worse: they put off paying you at all with no good reason why), that's a good sign that they might not know what they're getting into. Avoid. That's another good reason to set all expectations and collect fees up-front, too, by the way.

If I could sum up potential teammates in one phrase, it's that you need to find people capable of doing and finishing things—not people who whine about how unfeasible they are or people who only give you false hope in the impossible. Believe me, when you're staring at a car that's mostly in bins that hasn't run under its own power in months, turning that hot mess as a racecar looks impossible. You need people around you who realize that it isn't.