May 28th 2020
5 Questions For Tony Kane, General Manager of Hughes Performance — Part of EPARTRADE's Regular Series Of 'Snapshot' Interviews With Racing Industry Executives
In EPARTRADE's first installment of interviews of racing industry executives, we invited Tony Kane, General Manager of Hughes Performance, to briefly share a bit of his history, and his thoughts on the racing industry. Hughes Performance manufactures high-performance and racing transmissions, torque converters and more. It is based in Phoenix, Arizona, and was started by Bill and Lorraine Hughes in 1971. Kane arrived at Hughes in 2000.
To spend a few minutes talking with Kane about the racing business is to get caught up all over again about how special this industry is. He has an infectious enthusiasm right from the start about the sport, and makes it clear that this business is about winning races as goal number one, and all the dedication, drive and spirit that demands.
Tell us your story of how you got started in racing.
Kane explained that he was literally born into the business of racing transmissions. His father had a transmission shop in Long Island, New York and also went drag racing in the late 1950s and early 1960s with his brothers.
"I grew up in racing," said Kane. "It was something I was born with." As a child, he remembers standing on the seat of a '55 Chevy, pretending to drive, with his father's assistance. And he's happy and proud to share with you that he owns a '55 Chevy today.
"I grew up learning to build transmissions in my teens," said Kane.
What is the most exciting thing to you about the motorsport industry today?
Kane expressed a sense of marvel at the quality of performance vehicles today, especially remarkable considering the diversity of cars out there. "Just look at SEMA, and the quality of cars at the SEMA Show," he said. Car builders are taking old classics, and rebuilding them with the latest performance technology, so the cars are faster and better performing than when they were 'born,' noted Kane. "They take today's technology, and incorporate the past...there's nothing out of style anymore!"
Whether it's a performance street vehicle, or purpose-built race cars for the track, Kane said it's amazing to recognize the standards of quality commonplace today among car enthusiasts and racers.
What motivates you daily in your job?
"To be able to work in an industry that I've grown up in," said Kane. "It's such a part of who I am. It's not a job; it's a passion."
What recent new technology or advancements in racing excite you most?
Kane is quick to point out that the most profoundly affecting new technology for the racing industry as a whole is social media, and he appreciates the changes that it's brought. "I like the fact there is this communication in the industry through social media that brings our industry together," he said. "We can all express ourselves in social media, and that bring us together."
He makes it clear that social media pushes racing companies to be better. "It's not about what Hughes does that's great; it's about what's great for the customer."
What should everybody in the racing industry know about your company?
"The fact that Hughes Performance has been built on a platform of car enthusiasts and racers, and their accomplishments, including Wally trophies," said Kane. "Hughes was founded and built with the passion of car enthusiasts and racers.
"We do what we sell," added Kane, with passion. "We are car people. That's what's cool here."