In this episode, we talk with Jonathon Masters from Race Know How. He talks about his journey, his inspiration, and the work he’s doing to teach racers about technical aspects of race cars. Check out his website at raceknowhow.com/
Hey everybody. Welcome to this episode of the racing insiders Podcast. I am super fortunate today to be sitting next to my friend Jonathon Masters, who many of you know probably from different areas of racing. But currently, Jonathon runs the http://raceknowhow.com/ website, where he’s teaching racers about all kinds of different tech issues and that type of thing.
But Jonathon, go ahead and introduce yourself and say hi to everyone.
Oh, yeah, I’m Jonathon Masters. I’m the owner operator of http://raceknowhow.com/ It’s an online tech website. I’ve spent an entire lifetime in the motorsports industry. My family owned Mastersbilt race cars and my father still owns Mastersbilt race cars. I’ve worked in basically every area of the industry, even outside of dirt racing. I’ve worked at trade shows, I’ve worked at media groups, I’ve sold t shirts, you name it, and I’ve done it.
Well, how was that growing up? At Mastersbilt? And you know, like, growing up around chassis and how much did you learn just from being there?
You know, when you’re younger, and you grow up, and you’re born into it, and it’s all you ever know, it’s I think there’s a different perspective than, as you get older, you understand more, you appreciate it more. It’s I didn’t really understand or appreciate until I was about 13. before and it was just you know, on the weekends, we just go to the races. And you know, there’s this shop next door and dad built race cars. And you know, you know that what’s going on, but it doesn’t process until you get that age to where it all starts to click.
It actually took a lot longer for me. But I have a question for you. Because my dad did build chassis when I was a kid too. Now, did your dad have a manual pipe bender? Back in the day? They did have one now and Okay, I will follow up question. Did you ever get to be the hold the pipe still person? No, not
much. Because we we you know, back when I was a kid, I mean, they they employ, you know, 10 to 20 people at a time. So I mean, in throughout the 90s they were they were cranking out to 250 cars a year. So I mean, there wasn’t a lot of room to have somebody back there just milling about the way you would imagine. So it’s a lot different. And people think, you know, oh, you’ll learn this stuff just by being there. It’s like, man, they’re, they’re all busy. And that’s, you know, we’ll talk about the website later. But that kind of leads into it is racing industry’s gotten so busy, that there’s not really time for you to sit there and learn on the job. It’s a it’s kind of a deal to where, you know, the stuff I did learn it was me being there after it was closed. And that wasn’t until I was older that I even learned how to, you know, welder or notch things and things like that that came like in early teenage years.
Well, and with that, I mean, even even when you’re doing that, would you find that maybe you’re shown how to do that thing. Like this is how you weld these two pieces of metal together where you don’t necessarily understand, like, all of the 90 different ways that you can weld something,
I still don’t understand all the 90 different ways you can weld something I can, I can notch two pieces of pipe together. And that is the end of my welding knowledge I can, I can blow holes through a lot of pieces of tubing. But other than that, I I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.
Hey, good to know, I see I can solder and I could probably get you to some really good welding YouTube videos. That’s that would be my superpower.
Now let’s let’s let’s pretty much it I can I you know, and I haven’t done it in years now. But I like i said i can i can go out there and I know how to do it. But it’s one of those things towards welding is kind of like, it’s like a specialty to where it’s a practice thing. If you don’t do it, you’re not going to be good at it. Even if you know how to do it. It’s a feel for type of thing. And I just never did it long enough for enough to have the feel for that some of those guys do.
Gotta have a passion for it. And I think that’s the big that’s the big story in our sport, is that everything is based around passion. And you know, where did you find your passion within the industry? Or we’re another way to ask it is did you ever leave the industry and do anything else
other than racing related? I actually have done a lot of stuff outside the industry.
Two years ago to two and a half years ago now. I was working at a Assisted Living Center as a CNA. So I was outside the industry, taking nursing classes. That’s about as far removed from racing as I imagined you can get. So yeah, I did that. I was working at Amazon distribution for a while as an overnight picker from 6pm to 6am. So I’ve gotten the full gambit of Careers Out There that one would love to esteem to have. So I’ve I’ve definitely got a feel for it.
That’s really interesting. But you keep coming back to racing.
Yeah, it’s one of those things where I go outside. And I work outside of racing. And it’s something where I’m like, you know what, there’s got to be easy stuff out there. There’s gotta be something else you can do. And then you get doing something else you’re like, yeah, it’s like to be working racing, though. And it’s just one of those things that it’s just that little thing in the back of your head that says this, this isn’t what you want to do. This isn’t this isn’t what you’re going to be. So it’s one of those things that just keeps drawing you back.
Now you have been in lots of different kinds of portions of racing. Well, obviously trade shows and now you’ve got the website and you’ve done other kinds of marketing and worked for you. Well, I mean, tell us about some of the places that you’ve you’ve worked for, you know, one of the things that
is dawned on me as the site’s grown and and people are enjoying it is everything I did up until the site prepared me for the side. I I work with trade shows my first actual great job in motor sports was I was working for the IMS trade show, which was the International Motor Sports industry show which was the show that was created compete with pri that was the current time it was being held in Orlando, a lot of the racing industry was upset about it, it seemed to have lost focus right. from, you know, the roots of racing. It was a lot of Chrome and things like that going on Orlando, and a lot of the racing industry people were not happy about it. So a few of them got together. And there was an ownership group. And some of the names you know, Tony Stewart was involved. Chris Paulson from car radiator was involved. Tom Weiss and Bob from the no Motor Sports Association. There was a couple others, some of them that you don’t know about to this day people don’t know about but they were all involved. And they got that show together. They brought the first year was kind of a hodgepodge. I was actually working for a marketing company and we were doing sponsored Indy cars and stuff. And they brought me on as a consultant part time and we were all kind of part time consultants that first year of I’m IS and at the end of that year, it was a success. The city was happy. And they said it’s time to get serious and they brought everyone in said All right, we’re going to have four of you. And I was one of the four that God chose to be the permanent sales group permanent team, as it were. And from there, it just grew and it went well. And I was kind of the circle track guy. We had a sprint car focused person, we had a road race person, we had some I located down here in Charlotte, that kind of some of the NASCAR stuff. And it was it was great. And we sold a lot of booze to people. We made a lot of people happy. And we brought the industry back to Indy. So it was probably one of probably one of the best times in my life up until then. And still right now. I mean, it’s it’s up there it was, it was a good time. And we had a good time. It was a great team and I learned a whole lot.
Well then were you just like a trade show junkie, because I know you moved on from that to how we met was of course the cars trade show was done in Charlotte, and then you moved on to even having your own trade show the heartland auto racing show in Iowa. So tell me why you’re not doing trade shows anymore?
Well, what it happened with time is was it got to a point where Sema purchased pri Oh,
yeah, we forgot to light forgot to put that apart in there.
And at that time, you know, we were kind of given high fives, the sales team work because we were you know, we had one is it had beat pri we were, you know, we had the momentum, we had the support, we kind of won. And we thought that seemed purchasing and was kind of the foreshadowed to Sema, just bringing pri in as part of the SEMA show and having, you know, some racing stuff in Vegas. But what what was going on behind the scenes that we didn’t know about was they made proposals to the owner ship team that did, you know, they ended up purchasing is as well. And you know, there’s some contractual stuff that I still don’t know exactly what happened. Since pri was purchased. First, there was some contract signed that kept their staff on and liquidated all of us. So we were kind of thrown off because it’s like, well, you won the race. But, you know, you got disqualified A week later, because of something you didn’t know. And from there, I came on board to, you know, help Jimmy out at the car show. And life was continuing on. I at the time, I had a daughter coming. And we had a group of us that thought there was room for a show in Iowa as well. So they wanted me to come on and help with the show. And I went spearhead that. And we did the heartland auto racing show in Iowa. And it went well, the first couple years, and then it was doing pretty good. But it was a deal to where it the regional trade shows are good if you have a standing business. And that’s your part time job. It could not support a full time staff. So that that’s kind of where that left off at. And from there I had to move on and kind of lick your wounds as it were and move on to try to find something to better suit my family.
Yeah, and then I know you were it for a while there, you kind of bounced around. I know between the flow racing and next thing I know you’ve you’ve started racing. Oh, wow. And then I see you’re at World racing group. And then I don’t see you and then you kind of bounced around a little bit, but sounds like you’ve landed well.
After the heartland show. I went worked for Gerald at Arizona sport shirts for a while I traveled up and down the road with the T shirt trailers, I did some inside sales. After that, what happened after that was actually went and got my medical license. I was a CNA, that Assisted Living Center, I was taking nursing classes. And from there while I was doing that I actually had some phone calls from people flow racing flow is a massive company. It broadcast internet sports, a lot of collegiate stuff around the world. And they had never had a racing component. And they were trying to start it, I got a contact from a friend from Imus who had referred them to me. So it started out I was just gonna do some writing for the racing side. And the writing really took off. I mean, I had a ton of people reading my articles when they were released. And then they wanted me to come on try to help contract some people to do racing with them. So I came on, we signed a lot of big races and a lot of deals and that company because of the corporate structure, it went through a little bit of financial trouble, not something that would break them because they were so big, but something where they were micromanaging some of their new startups, sports, and they were not prepared to bring somebody on full time for the racing, I think, also, it would involve moving to Austin, Texas. And, you know, there’s a few places in the country, I would consider moving. You know, I’m an Indiana person, I love Indianapolis, if I was to move somewhere and somebody putting a gun in my head and say, you’ve got to move somewhere, it would probably be to Charlotte, because you know, the Concord Charlotte region, that’s always been my second home. With the college down here. I have lots of friends down here. It’s very centered to the racing community. Probably the last place would be Austin, Texas. So that kind of ended that deal. And around that time, is when I started messing with the concept of race now. And what started it was I did a column for flow sports. It was a column about how it’s hard to find good help and racing. And a lot of it was going attributed to lots of things that the fact that there’s no shop classes in schools anymore. The fact that, you know, these national teams can’t take time to teach people on the run. It’s kind of like a brain drain, there’s that where there was a brain drain going on. There was no way to get information. Talk to a lot of industry people they contributed to the article. And you know, that kind of seeded the idea in my head.
I love it. I mean, I think it’s something that was missing. I of course, I do tech videos for anybody who doesn’t, doesn’t know that I do those for crate Insider. But you know, it’s a very specific market, I’m generally talking about parts. And you’ve really expanded I mean, you’ve got anything from, from fire suppression and safety, which I love to suspension. And we were talking about some spring valves. Is that what we were talking about there? Yeah, spring valves. And you’ve got the whole gamut. And you serve all kinds of different cars and industries. I think it’s really, really exciting. And then how are you? How are you getting this information to people?
Well, what started it was, we I wanted to way to disperse the information. Because the funny story, the idea for race know how, and this hasn’t been told, very often, if at all, I was in the shower, and I was percolating on all these ideas, I was sitting there thinking, Man, how would be you know, to disperse information with got a problem, people are coming by and complete chassis, which makes all the chassis manufacturers happy, but they know the reason they’re buying them is because these guys don’t know how to put the course together anymore. So it’s a deal to where if these guys and and allow these guys spend all of their money on that complete chassis, blow all their money once can’t get no help, can’t figure out how to work on it. And a year later, they’re gone. And once we’ve lost them once, we’re not getting them back again, once the money comes into racing, and blows their wad, and decides that oh my god, so expensive, and you can’t figure it out, you run last every week, they’re gone. And that doesn’t help any of us. So it was all sitting there and, you know, watching the water, and then it just it like it all clicked just at once, from my experience working at flow, which was a subscription based website. And, you know, some of the other sites that we have in the industry, and that all came together at once. I you know, it’s it was like divine inspiration. I get out of the shower, get dressed, walk outside, pull out my phone, call my wife and say, hey, I’ve got this idea. And I’m all excited. She’s like, okay, that’s nice. We’ll talk about later. And that, you know, there there it goes again with something else. And you know, it, you know, I talked to a few people about it, and then start to move along. And I was looking for a web developer. And then I was looking for, you know, some content. And then I was trying to figure this out. And before long, it was March 23 of 2018. And the site was long. And yeah, I mean, it, we’ve always been the same subscription costs were 995 a month, 7995 a year. And as soon as you get your subscription, the complete libraries open to you. We have 106 videos as of today. And you can watch a video from March 23 2018 year you can watch a video from this morning, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’ve got your subscription, it’s all open to you. So it’s not like we say, all right, you can’t have none of this stuff, or this is an up charge. It’s all just one flat thing.
I just think that’s fabulous. And I love that the people in the industry have jumped on. I know that when I’ve asked for interviews, that, you know, people have been very generous with their time and with their information. And it’s just I’ve just asked different questions. And you have?
Well, it’s, it’s, I think people know, and the manufacturers know what, you know what I said that, once we lose them, we’ve lost them. So as much information as we can get out. Keep them excited about racing, we have to keep them thinking, Oh man, this guy got you know, I watched this video and you know, Mike Nichols or Tater Masters or Curt cloudy, or, you know, Willie Krupp told me this, on this video, I’m going to try it this week and see if I’m any better. And you know, they might not be but if they are a little better, then all of a sudden, they’re thinking, Okay, I’m gaining on it. It’s not, you know, I’m not throwing money down the toilet, buying all this stuff, I can gain on it, I can get better. And then, you know, hopefully we’ll see him in the industry for the next 1520 years.
Well, yeah, I think it really hits on something else that’s happening now too, is that if for for one, like you said there’s no shop classes, and, and I really have a big goal about bringing new people into the sport, you know, because there’s that constant, like you can only have be a racecar driver if your dad raced kind of a thing, because otherwise you’d have no base of knowledge. And racecar parts don’t come with instructions, they just don’t have very, very, very few, I think that’s big piece of it is you’re basically giving them the instructions for how to do these things. And I think the other thing too, is this stuff changes. I mean, it changes all the time. I mean, there’s like there’s super late model teams, there, this is their job, they’ve got several people that are working a full time job to build a figure this out. And then, you know, guy that works at eight to five job just doesn’t have a chance, because he’s got like two hours a night to work on his car, he doesn’t have a chance to compete with that.
Yeah, and some of what we’re trying to do is, you know, the guys that do for living those guys that are out there, you know, the the 40 to 80 teams that do go out there on a national basis, whether bonafide or late model, they have access to this information all the time, they they can call this guy and he’s going to take their call, or they can you know, they’ll see him at the track this weekend, or that guy will call him to tell him something new. Those guys that race it, you know, Gaffney on a weekly basis are those guys that race at Brown, Stan, Indiana on a weekly basis, or you know, or anywhere 35 Speedway in Missouri, they don’t get that luxury, they don’t, you know, they don’t have that direct line to these guys. But if I can create a platform where these guys can talk directly to them without having to spend each individual phone call, then when number one, it’s time sufficient for their part. And number two, it’s not that they don’t want to teach you guys stuff. It’s not that they don’t want you guys to know, it’s that they don’t know that you need to know they don’t know that you want to know because you know, they can’t call you don’t call them. But, you know, some guys are intimidated to call some of these guys or some these guys just don’t know how to get ahold of them. And you know, something else. These guys are busy. I mean, I was at Willie Krups the other day. I mean, he got two cars on two chassis dinos like every day during the summer. He is incrementally busy you know it’s not wonder he can’t get to some of his phone calls. It’s no wonder that you know, so and so can’t answer every phone call it’s because he’s busy building the part to get to you. So I mean, it’s a deal to where it makes sense that we have a platform to where we can disperse this information to you guys to make them better or to make them feel like you know that they’re not getting shafted on the information
well Wouldn’t you say that maybe a lot of people don’t understand that. Really is Willie that’s been there you know putting stuff together you know it is it’s your dad I mean Tater is in there he doesn’t have old eight is to kind of hang out on the phone and and do that he literally does have work
to do yeah, I mean all all these guys that own the stuff unless it’s one of the huge mega companies that for sure do stuff to all these guys. They’re out there doing it. I mean they’re they are actually out there physically bolting parts onto your car, they are physically machining that piece. They are physically running that chassis dyno. It’s not like that. They’ve got an army of people out there doing it while they’re sitting behind the desk, smoking a cigar. It’s just not happening. And you know that that’s that’s something I think some people don’t understand. Some people do. But you know, if I’m a modified guy down in, you know, down in Kansas, I don’t understand the day to day workings of somebody that’s that’s working at one of those places. You know what I mean? His life is as far removed from mind as my life is from some guy, so I’m sure I was in New York, you know what I mean?
So absolutely the truth.
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Wow, another question for you do because you’re so involved in racing, but you’ve really kind of gone the way of the information in tech and marketing. Did you ever want to become a chassis builder? Or did you ever want to climb behind the wheel of one of these things?
I built a modified and a late model and sold them both before ever raced them. So you know, I was gonna drive it. But I didn’t. You know what I mean? It’s just circumstances a life work out that way. And I think I’ve seen you know, the struggles some of these guys go through whether it be Dan, there are some of these drivers and stuff. And I mean, nothing’s easy. There’s no, there’s no, there’s nothing like it’s Oh, it’s just, you know, Ritz and glamour and stuff. But, you know, everything’s hard work. It’s just the past that your life takes you can’t predict them. So
it didn’t have that passion. I mean, you weren’t like you didn’t grow up and go, someday I want to strap on a helmet and I want to climb into one of my dad’s cars. That was never, never a thing for you. You know,
I kind of I kind of wanted to, but it’s not like, it doesn’t kill me that I didn’t you know what I mean?
Like a would be nice. Like, like, I wanted to go kart. Yeah. And didn’t really want to, I think I prefer
what, what life has dealt me at this current moment than anything else that I could be doing right now.
I agree. I agree. So what do you think is next on the horizon for race now?
Well, I want to continue to expand I mean, you know, people’s like, Man, you know, there’s lots of videos on there. But I, I could make a video every day for three years and not run out of topics because it’s just so broad. And it’s so wide with the late models and the modified. The only thing next I’d say is we working on spring midget site, it’s going to be completely separate site. Because the you know, we’re both going in circles on dirt yet, you could not be any more different than you are between a late model and modified their, their, their DNA is the same. We’re built on the same components. You know, most the time, we’re built on the same jigs half the time. You know what I mean? That That meant, other than that front stuff, it’s all the same stuff, you know that it’s gotten so similar that even the rear suspensions are basically the same. But when you get to the monitor the sprints and the midgets, it is completely different. It’s like, I don’t know, it. It’s like comparing a jet plane to a helicopter. They’re both in the air, but they’re entirely different.
And I would agree with you, I think that’s great. Let me ask you one last question. Well, I actually have two last questions. But one of those is, you know, you’ve you’ve had a successful career in all forms of all different kinds of areas of motor sports. If somebody was just getting started, or if you were giving advice to your younger self, what would you say?
If somebody was just getting started right now, I would definitely encourage them to go to college. I know it’s a generic response, but it’s it’s a response. I mean, it is what it is. And if you don’t go to college, go to vocation school mean I went to college at Rowan cannabis community college here in here in Concord North Carolina. And it was two of the best years of my life I met my you know my best friends there you know, one of them’s helps me on the website. The other ones now racing a late model and Missouri in one of them’s one of the top guys at Toyota racing development, but it’s, it was a life changing experience and something that here’s something that a lot of people don’t think of, is everything in your life can be taken away from you. Everything every dollar you own, everything you have can be taken away but the one thing that no one can take away is knowledge. So that knowledge is the only thing you have that yours that no one can take away. So
I would agree, I know my degree is totally different. I think yours is motor sports is a motor sports management
or sports management. Okay, actually, the new program head of Rowan Campus Community College for the motor sports departments, Jacqueline Remley, it’s,
I just talked to her. A few weeks ago, I saw her will Lucas event. And she was she was telling me about the program a little bit. Yeah,
I went I went and visited her there at the college here about three months ago now and she’s trying to get it restarted kind of it kind of felt a little bit when Richmond gage passed away who was the original program head but she’s coming, trying to revitalize it. And we’re going to try to help her a little bit with race know how and I’m hoping that we can get a new crop of kids in there.
That’s great. Okay, so my last question, Where can people find you online?
They can find us at http://raceknowhow.com/ . We’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ve always got trailers of the new videos that went up that day or that week on the Facebook. And we also like to show little updates little blurbs about where we’re at in any given moment, but we’re fairly easy to find.
race. No, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Thank you so much for being on the show. And I’m looking forward. I’m going to dive into some of those. I’m going to go learn some learn learn some stuff on
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