Roush Racing Wisdom: Stress-Testing Your Business

Thu, Feb 22, 2024

You and I have been going about building our businesses in the wrong way.

Carl White tells a story that’s the best and most counterintuitive business advice I’ve received in a long time. It’s the exact opposite of what everyone else is telling entrepreneurs to do.

Jack Roush is one of the world’s best race car engine builders. He’s spent 50 years dedicated to building the perfect race car engine and has won 31 championships and over 400 races.

His company, RFK Racing, boasts 8 championships in NASCAR’s top three divisions.

When asked what makes him a world-class engine builder, Jack said:

“We start up the engine, let it warm up until we can get it to full throttle—like putting a brick on the gas pedal—and then my team and I get a cup of coffee. We don’t come back until that engine has blown up.”

Then we tear it apart and see what broke. Let’s say it’s a piston ring. I will build a better, stronger, and faster piston ring. […] While all my competitors are afraid of breaking [we] embrace breakage. We encourage it because I’ll build a better, faster, stronger machine.”


When building a business, most entrepreneurs avoid breakage at all costs.

Breakage is a sign of failure, and it terrifies us.

So, as we build out the engine of our business (that’s our systems, processes, and procedures), we’re constantly avoiding and guarding against breakage. This is the worst thing we could possibly do!

When we indulge the engine of a business, we’re missing out on the opportunity to see how effective it is. How fast could it go at top speed? If we really tried to scale up, what would happen? Where might it fail if the market turns?

Not knowing where or how our business could break leaves us vulnerable to any changes (good or bad) that could take our business systems outside of our ability to personally shepherd them.


We need to be able to rely on our business the way a professional racer relies on an engine.

In a race, you want and need to be able to push the engine as hard and fast as you can possibly go. In fact, the ideal scenario is that the engine is never the rate-limiting factor. The engine can outperform anything the driver asks and operates at the edge of the driver’s capabilities.

We should stress-test every facet of our business until we find what breaks.

While still in a controlled environment, every system should be stretched to its limits to allow us to learn the invaluable lesson of how far it can go. Then, we can rely on it when it really matters.


So, as you build your business, get excited when the engine breaks.

This is exactly what you want: the opportunity to build something stronger and better that you can really count on when it comes time to throw your hat into the ring, join the race, and really go full throttle.

You can read Carl’s whole story here.

I’d love to know what you think! How do you go about stress-testing the engine of your business?