Road Racing Business Coach

From Ratchet+Wrench, May 2015

When Scott Wheeler isn’t driving success at shops, he’s behind the wheel or under the hood of his 1972 El Camino

THE KILLER KAMENO: Industry consultant Scott Wheeler hopes to race his 1972 El Camino, which he calls the “Killer Kameno,” at the Silver State Classic Challenge in Nevada. Photo courtesy Scott Wheeler

THE KILLER KAMENO: Industry consultant Scott Wheeler hopes to race his 1972 El Camino, which he calls the “Killer Kameno,” at the Silver State Classic Challenge in Nevada. Photo courtesy Scott Wheeler

Scott Wheeler, president of Automotive Consultants Group, is known within the auto care industry for helping shops grow and improve. He’s an expert at analyzing every aspect of a business, finding problem areas, and methodically implementing solutions.

“I tell my clients that your operation is nothing more than a big math problem,” Wheeler says. “And once you understand the components that go into that math problem, and you can fix them and tweak them and modify them and adjust them, then you can be more successful.”

He likens his job to his hobby—road racing a 1972 El Camino. Wheeler has owned the car for 30 years. It’s an everlasting project that’s been through thousands of hours of work including four engines, numerous suspension configurations, a complete body restoration and repaint, and much more. Wheeler works as a consultant seven days a week, but when he has time for himself, it’s spent with the El Camino, trying to figure out how to push the envelope a little further.

“The car and the problems and the components and the racing and the logistics, it all parlays directly into my consulting,” he says.

Wheeler has raced the car at Road Atlanta, a 2.5-mile course near Braselton, Ga., but his goal is to compete with it this month in the Silver State Classic Challenge, an open road racing event on a 90-mile stretch of State Route 318 in Nevada. He has attempted to run the race in the El Camino before—in 2000 when an engine failure caused him to compete in a rented Cadillac. A new engine still wasn’t ready by 2001, so he ran the race in another rental, this time a Mustang. He still managed to average over 100 mph in both cars. In the Mustang, he averaged 104.87 mph against a perfect run of 105 mph and managed a sixth-place finish.

Wheeler put the race on the backburner after 2001 as life and business shortened his hobby time, but he hopes to average better than 150 mph when he gets back into the race this year. Another engine failure—two spun bearings in a supercharged 390ci engine pushing 1,100 hp—left him scrambling in March. The new powerplant is a naturally aspirated 427ci small block making about 600 hp. It’s mated to a custom TH400 transmission—no overdrive, but the car’s 2.73:1 gears make the high speeds tolerable.

Shop operators who have worked with Wheeler might recognize his car, which he calls Killer Kameno, from his business cards and website. Even for clients who aren’t car guys, he hopes it shows that the challenges of automotive repair are very familiar to him.

“What I was trying to say was, ‘Hey, I’m a car guy, I get it,’” he says. “I understand what it’s like to be a car guy and the trials and tribulations of working on these things.”