Roush Fox: What No One Tells You About Building A Race Car


“Racing is not for the faint of heart.” Yeah, yeah – we’ve heard it a million times. It’s like a line out of a Fast and Furious movie. I mean, I’m not a fan, but I figure that’s the kind of stuff they say. Racing isn’t for the faint of heart, but neither is skydiving or swimming with sharks, and people willingly do that stuff every day.

When I started this project, I was prepared for long days, longer nights, lack of sleep, food, and perhaps my sanity, and quite a bit of cash out of my pocket. Basically, I wasn’t prepared at all. -Stephanie Davies

When I started this project, I was prepared for long days, longer nights, lack of sleep, food, and perhaps my sanity, and quite a bit of cash out of my pocket. Basically, I wasn’t prepared at all. No one tells you about the sleepless nights when you’re so beyond exhausted, but you know that your deadline is only however many days away, and you don’t know how you’re going to get custom parts made and shipped in time, or the struggles of glancing at your bank account and credit card statements and trying like hell not to have a major meltdown.

No one tells you that even though companies can promise that parts will be there or be right, many times they are not. No one tells you that you’ll become so beyond obsessed with the project and with it being successful that you can’t focus on any other thing. No one tells you that your non-car enthusiast friends will get so fed up with you, your project, and your lack of time for their problems, that they altogether stop talking to you. No one tells you that you’ll call your dad in New Jersey so many times for help, advice, and just for a soft place to land, that you can’t help but begin to feel he’s starting to get sick of hearing your voice.

For the 2016 NMRA racing season, Davies received a full sponsorship from Roush, as well as many other companies. Her Fox body hatchback, now known as the RoushFox has received a full RoushCharged Coyote transplant, Maximum Motorsports Suspension, transmission from Performance Automatic, JMS wheels, Strange Engineering rearend, and much more. We’ll be documenting parts of the RoushFox’s journey in some upcoming articles.

ROUSHFox2When Roush Performance stepped up to sponsor me, I was ecstatic. I still am. I mean little old me, and one of the most highly-respected automotive institutions in this country wanted to back me. As far as I’m concerned, I did nothing to deserve this. I haven’t been racing since I was a child, I haven’t set any records, I hadn’t even owned a race car prior to this. And while I have a serious passion and love for this automotive hobby, test and tune nights with mostly stock Fox Mustangs, accompanying my dad and brother to the track with their cars, and writing about other racers is my only real background in the sport.

When people ask me now, I’m still not sure how it happened. I still don’t know how I landed where I have. But I have – I have Roush Performance plastered all over the matte black wrap of my Fox-body Mustang, across the front and back of my fire suit, down the trailer that tows my car to each race. I race with an incredible team of seasoned veterans with championships under their belts. Somehow and someway, I’ve managed to win the trust and support of this great company and several others, and for that I am eternally grateful.

ROUSHFox

If a little over a year ago you had told me that I would be traveling the country racing for Roush, I would’ve called an institution to have you admitted. I was living in Tampa, Florida, waking up to palm trees every morning, laying by the beautiful resort-style pool of my gated complex, drinking Starbucks and writing a story here and there, and draining my already empty bank account. I had been laid-off from what I thought was my ultimate dream job (in many ways, it definitely was) after moving from New Jersey just a year and a half earlier, and I was struggling to get by. When I got a phone call one day asking if I would ever consider moving to Detroit to work for Roush, I struggled some more.

Like with so many other things, I took a leap of faith. With incredibly supportive family and friends behind me, I packed up my things in late October, and moved to Michigan. I never knew the journey that I was embarking on.

IMG_8279The rest is history. I came here as a writer. I was only 2 years out of college, had never worked in marketing, and wasn’t sure how I would fit. Now, a little over a year later, I’m Roush Performance’s Shows and Events Coordinator, I travel somewhere between 20 and 30 times a year to shows all over the US, and I absolutely LOVE my job. When I thought it couldn’t get better, I was called into my boss’s office and offered this sponsorship. I felt like I was being pranked. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea, but here we are, three months, one race, and a whole racecar build later.

I’ve met a lot of people who told us we couldn’t do it. There was no way, they said, that we could build a competitive car in less than two months’ time and get it down to Bradenton, Florida, for the NMRA season opener. They didn’t want to help, they didn’t want to get involved, and they didn’t care if we failed. In fact, I think some of them hoped that we would. But for every person who said we couldn’t, a handful said that we could. So many people and companies stood behind and continue to support this build and my season, and there is no doubt in my mind that the good parts of this journey have far outweighed the not-so-glamorous ones.

What I’m saying is, things aren’t always sunshine, Velcro track prep, and perfect reaction times. Sometimes you have to lose a lot to gain a lot.

When you decide to build a race car, no one tells you that you will miss this project when it is “over” or that you won’t know what to do with your free time when you finally get a taste of it again. No one tells you that you will learn that you really can accomplish what seemed at first to be impossible. No one tells you how fast time flies when you realize you need every second of it. No one tells you that you will learn just how much the people around you care to see you succeed and believe that you will, or how many people are willing to lend a hand, offer advice, and let you borrow parts when you run low on funds. No one tells you that you will begin to understand just how incredible this hobby and the people involved in it truly are. No one tells you how much you will learn to love the stress and the grind.

ROUSHFox3What I’m saying is, things aren’t always sunshine, Velcro track prep, and perfect reaction times. Sometimes you have to lose a lot to gain a lot. You’ll struggle. But you’ll learn that at the end of it all, it was worth it. All of the stress, the late nights, the early mornings, the cut up knuckles, the parts runs, running out of money, begging for help, all of the doubters, all of the times I defended something I wasn’t even sure I could accomplish – it was all more than worth it. If I had one piece of advice for someone embarking on this journey it would be this: Embrace every last second. Every failure is a lesson.

This is just the beginning. Sometimes, just sometimes, a leap of faith and pushing the limits lands you in the Sparco seat of a built Roush race car.

About the author

Stephanie Davies

Stephanie Davies got her start in automotive media while studying at Rutgers University and eventually landed at Roush Performance outside of Detroit, where she now resides. She writes for various automotive outlets, works with rescue dogs, enjoys driving her Roush-charged Coyote-swapped 1992 Fox body Mustang race car, and is convinced that absolutely nothing in the world beats a sunny weekend at the track.
Read My Articles

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