OMG Is Automating The Business Of Golf Cart Rentals
Photos Gary Nastase
There are numerous career possibilities within the sport of drag racing, as evidenced by NHRA’s Youth and Education Services which assists in educating our youth. From crew members to support personnel to writers, photographers and everything in between. Besides those careers, there are also endless business opportunities, opportunities of which Steve Libby took advantage of.
“I had some businesses in Missouri where I live which revolved around motorsports and I’ve always been around racing,” Libby says. “As such, I was making apparel for a lot of the drag race teams and had built a friendship with Top Fuel’s Scott Palmer. He opened a number of doors for me in that I began running the display trailers on the NHRA Manufacturer’s Midway for several companies. In addition, I began providing the staffing for the Mello Yello displays in addition to others, all of which has now worked itself into the renting of golf carts at each NHRA national event.”
At each Mello Yello NHRA national event on tour; 24 of them across the country; small cities pop up like gypsies traveling the Old West. At each race, racers; both professional and sportsman; set up their pit areas for the weekend. Because of the relative size of the facilities, moving around the pit areas requires quite a bit of walking if you choose so. The options are the various golf carts, pit bikes and the like which are used as small support vehicles to move not only crew members but also parts. Partially because of space limitations, trailer space in most people’s rigs is limited which makes carrying an additional support vehicle such as a golf cart almost impossible.
It was several years ago, when Jerry Callaway and his wife Maryanne serviced the racer’s golf cart needs with rental units available. In addition to golf cart needs, a shipping depot became just another part of the “town” set up at each race, of which Callaway also handled. In 2017, Callaway was looking to retire and as such, several companies bid on the job with the NHRA for the handling the golf cart rentals. One of those was Libby, who along with his business partner Jason Mitchell, formed OMG (Ozark Motorcarrier Group).
“We all summited our proposals to NHRA and it was ours which was chosen,” he said. “It really wasn’t until the last race of ’18 when Jerry finally retired, which left us until the first race at Pomona this year, the Winternationals, to get up and running. Rather than utilize any of the older equipment Jerry had, we chose to start off fresh with all new equipment; new golf carts, new trucks and trailers, a new fork lift truck for deliveries, etc. Jason played a pivotal role with his knowledge on finance and accounting.
“It was really a stretch to get everything in place for that first race this year,” Libby added. “Through Robert Hight and Steve Cole; who was at John Force Racing at the time; they were very instrumental in helping us to became an EZ-GO golf cart dealer. We looked at simply purchasing older carts which had come off lease from golf courses, but a lot of them were in need of some repair, which we could have done but becoming an EZ-GO dealer enabled us to purchase brand new units, which we did, 65 in all. We now know when we rent a cart, the customer is not going to have any problems.”
Receiving the new carts prior to Pomona this year, each one did require some modifications. “The carts come from EZ-GO just as they would if they were going to a golf course,” Libby said. “Each one had a golf bag holder which we removed and installed a back seat to allow four riders. So that necessitated some work. We also needed to outfit trailers to carry each cart. This meant having a rather complicated ramp loading system designed and built in order to safely load 24 carts in each trailer.”
It was Mitchell who also had a new Internet site designed and built (omgtrackside.com) in which a customer can order and hold a cart for rental at each event. It’s a very systematic and organized approach to renting golf carts at an event, although renting is limited to racers, sponsors and vendors.
“There are a number of vendors like us who perform the same services at other venues around the country such as major golf tournaments, bull riding competitions, NASCAR, car shows and others,” he said. “We then looked at some of their rental agreements and sort of mirrored what they were doing, so the issue of renting becomes fairly standard and relatively easy.
“We’ll also work with local EZ-GO dealers near an event to bring in extra carts at some races, which renting a cart through the Internet site allows us to know ahead of time just how many carts will be needed,” he added. “About 30 of our carts are rented on a regular basis to NHRA for use in various departments. Once again, knowing our rental needs ahead of time allows us better planning.”
Just like any car rental, after each use and prior to loading for the next event, the carts are cleaned, serviced and fueled. “We do it that way because I don’t want any surprises when we get to the next race,” says Libby. “If there is a problem, I want it fixed right away so we’re good to go when we get to the next venue.”
Libby’s group also took over the freight services, which includes deliveries and shipping from the track for UPS and Fed Ex shipments. “With a lot of the teams constantly on the road traveling to and from events, a number of the team’s trucks and trailers really never make it back to their home base,” Libby says. “With that, they needed a centralized location in order to receive and ship packages. Once again, we looked at a way to organize the methods of shipping to give the team’s the knowledge their shipments will be handled in an organized fashion.
“If a team chooses to,” Libby added, “they can set up an account with us, be it by credit card or cash; and when their shipment arrives here at our depot, we scan the shipment in and a text message is sent to the team to let them know their package arrived. We can also deliver the package directly to them within two hours of us receiving the shipment.
“We also have a number of marketing partners which has helped us to become more efficient,” says Libby. “VP Racing Fuels, Goodyear Tires, and Pro Things apparel; are those which we continue to work closely with to provide the necessary services.”
As we mentioned earlier, the events which make up the NHRA Mello Yello tour have become small cities within a city or town. The ability to offer services within those “communities” becomes every bit as important as any of the “brick and mortar stores” which make up a town. OMG is doing their part to accommodate the racers, sponsors and vendors which make up the “big show.”