Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Rizzo.
Shawn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always been passionate about cars. I’m not really sure where it came from, just a bug I picked up in my youth. When I was young, it was an escape for me to pour over car magazines, technical journals, and repair manuals and learn everything I could about how they worked. I was fascinated with the potential that sports cars had and the art and beauty of the automotive form. I began tinkering on my own car in high school and learned very quickly that if I took it apart and couldn’t get it back together, I was riding the bus to school. During college, my career path led me away from cars. I studied Technical Theater and after college, I went on tour with several different shows. In 2004, I married my childhood sweetheart and best friend of 30 years, Alicia. Being on the road for 9-10 months out of the year was not going to make for a happy marriage, so I had to change careers and quickly turned back to cars. I worked at several different dealerships over the next few years, gaining experience and eventually my Master Level and L1 ASE Certifications.
In 2005, we started Team Squid Racing and began drag racing, drifting, and autocrossing. Team Squid eventually grew into Squid Auto where I did side work out of my home shop building race cars and modifying Japanese imports. All the while, we continued to race and develop our brand. In 2010, I took a job as an instructor at Universal Technical Institute. This allowed me more time to build cars in my shop at home and the business grew very quickly. We began a race engine building program partnering with a long-time friend and machinist to supply racing engines for Subaru vehicles. We also began offering tuning services through another long-time friend and things really took off. By 2018 I was basically working two full-time jobs; Teaching and building cars in my home shop. Me and my wife decided it was time to take the business full scale and in December of 2018 I left my teaching job to create Kraken Motorsports.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, 80+ hour work weeks working two jobs for over five years was definitely not a smooth road. It was hard. I had to miss a lot of things because I had a deadline to finish a car, or had to run for parts, or had a race to go to. Missing vacations, birthdays, and family gatherings was not uncommon because I had work to do. Money was also a struggle at times. Many of the projects that I took on to build my brand and prove myself were not projects that I made a lot of money on, they simply gave me a platform to get my name out there. So, as you can imagine working 80+ hours a week at two jobs and still having to carefully budget out our expenses was stressful.
Opening Kraken Motorsports in January of 2019 was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. The process of getting investors and seed money, the SBA loan process, build-out of the space, ordering equipment, and figuring out how to track and run the day-to-day of the shop has been an incredibly steep learning curve. Thankfully I had a lot of help from friends and family and my amazing wife has taken on the burden of the finances for the business. For which I can never thank her enough!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kraken Motorsports – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
“When I envisioned a performance shop, I saw a place for people to get real advice and quality service in a unique environment. A place where all cars were created equal and everyone had a voice. Our shop brings the fun back to building and modifying cars and strives to provide an incredible experience beyond simply writing a check or swiping a credit card. Our goals for Kraken Motorsports were to provide service, expertise, experience, and a car that truly fits your budget that will stand the test of time. Our track record of reliable, power producing vehicles is core to our mission and has inspired us to create something unique. From the state-of-the-art equipment to the amazing graffiti and comic book art covering the walls, Kraken Motorsports provides an extraordinary car building experience. I wanted the customers to be involved in their builds, to be an integral part of the conception of their vehicle and enjoy the process from start to finish. I wanted to create friends and family, not just customers. We welcome you to the future of performance shops, we welcome you to our home, we welcome you to Kraken Motorsports.”
This is what is on the front page of our website. I could not think of a better way to tell you what Kraken Motorsports is about. I wanted it to be different, I wanted it to be an experience, not just a place to get your car built.
We specialize in Japanese Imports, specifically, Subaru vehicles. We are known for creating reliable performance cars and building what the customer needs, eliminating things they don’t. I think I am most proud of the fact that in all the years since we started our engine building program, not a single one of our Subaru engines has failed. To my knowledge, every engine we have built is still going strong.
What sets us apart as a shop is it’s not all about the money. Obviously, we are here to make money, and we need that to survive. But I will never sell a customer something they don’t need. It is very easy, especially in the automotive performance world, to create fear in the customer. This causes customers to buy a lot of things on a build “just in case”, or because the shop says they need it to get to a certain goal when they don’t. I want to build my customers the car they need tailored to their requirements, not just throw everything but the kitchen sink at it.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Right now, we are putting together a couple of big horsepower cars and expanding our engine development program. We will be using our shop cars to get back into the full swing of racing as well. Our Land Speed car, the LandShark STi will be back at Bonneville, Mojave, and the Texas Mile next year for speed trials. Alicia’s STi is getting a huge power increase to over 600 HP for her to return to drag racing in 2020, and our shop truck “Ika-Chan” just got finished being wrapped and will be hitting the show circuit as early as This month.
We will probably be expanding at the end of this year, taking over an additional space across from our current location and hiring more personnel.
We have several big customer builds going on in the shop right now, Development for some other Subaru platforms and some new parts are both going on right now as well. Most of the new stuff we can’t really talk about yet. I can say that we have some exciting things that will be happening before the end of the year.
- Address: 1929 Golden Heights Road
Suite #1104 Fort Worth, Texas 76177
- Website: www.kraken-motorsports.com
- Phone: 8177448240
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: #krakenmotorsports
- Facebook: @krakenbuilt