April 11, 2011

Russell Garehan and Andrew Smith first met in 2007 while working on the LSU Formula SAE car for a student design competition. Little did they know, less than three years later they would enter into a business venture to create Fast Guys, a high performance automobile part manufacturer for BMWs and Porsches and a road-racing prep shop.

Garehan, a senior in mechanical engineering, didn’t always design car parts. Instead, he began building custom guitars before unforeseen circumstances halted his progress. 

He started working full time at Hybrid Racing, designing performance parts for Hondas and Acuras, in addition to maintaining his engineering course load. Garehan even co-designed MMFix, an ergonomic solution to MAC mouse, with the owner of Hybrid Racing. 

“I decided it was time for me to base a business around my own interests,” said Garehan. So he began conceiving a business plan to do just that.

Andrew Smith, a senior in construction management, worked as a freelance mechanic before deciding to begin the construction management program, which he thought was a good balance between two of his interests – business and engineering.

Apart from working as a freelance mechanic, Smith also raced karts with the World Karting Association (WKA) and the Louisiana Karting Association (LKA) and won the 2009 Grand Bayou Racing Series GTU Championship.

Smith was also ready to begin conceptualizing a business, but before he finalized his plan, Garehan approach Smith with his proposal.

Garehan knew Smith had valuable experience in the industry, so the two formed a partnership, assumed the titles of vice president and lead designer and president, respectively, and went to work.

“I knew I needed someone who had experience with racing and was business savvy,” said Garehan. “We make a balanced team.”

Together, Garehan and Smith have coupled their engineering skillsets and personal interests to fulfill a need – providing performance parts and services to racing enthusiasts. Six months ago, the two decided to become the first automotive shop to open at NOLA Motorway Park, a $30 million racetrack country club in Avondale, La. The shop will open in July 2011.

NOLA Motorsports Park has provided new opportunities for growing Fast Guys. In addition to offering brand-specific parts, repair services for race cars, full fabrication services, trackside service and custom parts, Fast Guys is looking to expand into performance validation equipment. 

“Performance validation equipment will allow us to quantify vehicle performance, branch into a new market and ensure we are producing products that make competitive race cars,” said Garehan. “As an engineer, this takes racing from being an art to a science. And that’s appealing to me.”  

Fast Guys has served as an avenue to apply what Garehan and Smith have learned in the engineering classroom. In addition, owning their own business has forced them to learn skills they never thought they would need, including Webmaster skills.

“We didn’t expect the business to be what it is,” said Smith. “It’s evolved, and we’re seeing increased demand for our products. Our local clientele is a great test pool for continued improvement to our business, but we also have demand nationally and even internationally.”

The duo continues to receive feedback from their clients and uses it to expand Fast Guys’ products and services. But they are cautious to maintain quality and safety.

“To be a successful engineer and businessman, you have to deal with problems as they come along,” said Garehan. “I like to be able to solve a problem. In this business when you solve the problem, you go fast.”

For more information on Fast Guys, visit www.fastguys.com.

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For more information, contact Cassie Arceneaux, LSU College of Engineering, at 225-578-0092 or carcen6@lsu.edu.



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