Lemerand Entrepreneurial Scholarships go to two winning students
Elaine and Chris Larsen, founders of what has become the world’s largest jet-powered racing motorsports company, know what it’s like to start a business from the ground up. The racing superstars shared their story to a capacity crowd on Feb. 21 during the spring installment of the L. Gale Lemerand Entrepreneurial Speaker Series hosted by the Small Business Development Center at Daytona State College and DSC’s School of Business Administration.
“Larsen Motorsports was never meant to be as big as it is today. We were just a couple of Michigan farmers who found a niche,” said Chris Larsen, noting that the company started when the husband and wife team built their first dragster in their garage.
Founded in 1999, Larsen Motorsports today is headquartered in Palm Bay and features multiple jet-engine powered dragsters commandeered by Elaine Larsen and her team of mostly female drivers. The company is partly operated by a constantly cycled group of college interns learning everything from marketing the business side of Larsen Motorsports and maintaining the complex vehicle engines, to fabricating parts and transporting the cars on race days.
The Larsens shared some key tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Define your own definition of winning and success, as they are not necessarily the same.
- Don’t compare yourself to others; simply try to continuously improve.
- Make the time of others as valuable as your own.
- Treat the customer paying you $100 the same as you would the customer paying you $100,000.
- Be kind and courteous, and embrace those who work for you.
- Stay out of debt; it can crush your business.
- Start strategically and build your business progressively.
- Count on a beginning, a middle and an end for your business.
Chris Larsen also added, looking to his driver wife of over 30 years, “Things that are forever, embrace them entirely.”
Prior to the Larsen’s presentation, DSC President Tom LoBasso told the audience, most of them DSC and local high school students, that many of the programs offered by DSC, such as associate and bachelor’s degrees in engineering technology and information technology, as well as degree and certificate programs in project management, electronics, CNC machining, automotive technology and automotive collision and repair can be applied to careers in motorsports.
He and the speaker series’ namesake, L. Gale Lemerand, also presented two students with $1,000 Entrepreneurial Speaker Series scholarships. They were Caneshia Bennett (pictured with Dr. LoBasso (L) and Mr. Lemerand (R), a Palm Coast resident studying business administration who also owns a food truck serving Volusia and Flagler counties on weekends, and Keisha Harris, a Daytona Beach single mother of three enrolled in the college’s culinary arts program, who plans to open her own restaurant or bake shop upon graduation.
The Larsens are dedicated to bringing new talent to the sport of drag racing, such as drivers, engineers and fabrication and vehicle-maintenance specialists. They also serve as valuable role models by introducing young women to non-traditional STEM careers.