The Driving Force

Joseph Leister - Scott Frazier photo

Joseph Leister’s talents on dirt see him in Victory Lane (inset) in anything from Karts to his #89 Modified.

COMP Cams employees win on and off the track

Familiarity is always a virtue. When choosing where you purchase your products of choice, it’s definitely an added comfort to deal with someone who has a passion for what they sell.

If you are looking to have your everyday vehicle fixed, you aren’t going to take it to a mechanic who has no interest in cars. Looking to get a tattoo? Odds are pretty good you aren’t going to choose an artist who doesn’t have a single bit of ink on his body.

Similarly, when it comes to purchasing the parts that give you the best chance to park your race car in Victory Lane, you don’t want to deal with someone who isn’t passionate about racing.

This is where COMP Cams separates itself from the crowd. Whether it be in the machine shop, the tech support line, or the warehouse, the staff at COMP Cams is loaded with diehard racers.

Derrick Hubbard 4

Derrick Hubbard burning up the drag strip.

“We are very proud to have a strong concentration of racers integrated into our staff,” notes Chris Douglas, COO for the COMP Performance Group. “Dozens of members of the COMP Cams family like to go fast on the weekend, while working diligently during the week to help others go fast.”

Douglas knows the value of having racers helping other racers, because he is a veteran competitor with experience in everything from dirt Modifieds to pavement Late Models.

“Winning races these days is a tougher proposition than ever before,” Douglas continues. “Having racers on our staff gives our company an advantage because it’s like having a nonstop R&D element built into what we do.”

The diverse staff at COMP Cams truly has a lot to bring to the table. The background for many of these talented individuals tends to be as fascinating as their knowledge.

For instance, let’s consider Derrick Hubbard. The story of this young man, who works in the Engine Builder Sales Department at COMP Cams, is quite interesting.

“I’ve been around drag racing my entire life, and honestly, it’s where I thought I would always want to place my focus,” Hubbard says. “However, sometimes fate has a way of intervening, and it changes your course.”

Derrick Hubbard 1

Derrick Hubbard’s first Go Kart.

On December 23, 2015, his family’s entire drag racing operation was being stored at Holly Springs Dragstrip when a tornado obliterated the property. Luckily, no one was harmed, but he were left trying to pick up the pieces of his racing career.

“It was totally heartbreaking because everything I had worked so hard for in my racing career was gone,” Hubbard painfully remembers. “I wasn’t financially secure enough to buy another drag car that matched the level of equipment I had. My racing career seemed to be completely ended by an 18-second tornado.”

It’s often said when one door closes, another one opens, and such would be the case for Hubbard.

“Jay Adams, who also works here at COMP Cams, had been on me for a while to try dirt track racing,” Hubbard recollects. “I honestly hadn’t given it a second thought until my entire drag racing operation had been blown away.”

Derrick Hubbard 3

Derrick Hubbard was used to victories on the drag strip, but is having a blast Karting.

A few months after seeing his drag racing team get decimated, Hubbard — with the help of Adams — found and purchased a 2016 Millenium Chassis to compete in the Go Kart ranks.

“Never in a million years did I ever think I would end up being involved in circle track racing, much less on dirt, but I fell in love with it immediately,” Hubbard admits. “It’s been an incredible experience, and I have even put other drivers in it. I’ve quickly learned that I can learn just as much watching somebody else drive my Go Kart as I can from being in the driver’s seat. It’s been an eye-opening experience thus far.”

Speaking of Jay Adams, he’s another intricate part of the talented COMP Cams team. The company veteran is a performance account manager. On a daily basis, he deals with racers and engine builders. His expertise in his field knows no bounds, as he works with builders and competitors in pretty much every type of motorsports.

“My favorite thing about my job is all of the different gearheads that I come in contact with,” Adams says. “I might be on a phone call right now with a guy restoring a vintage flathead Ford, and then in five minutes, I might be talking to a Sprint Car racer. It keeps my job exciting.”

Jay Adams 2

Jay Adams competing in his Winged Sprint Car.

Adams grew up at the dirt track. His uncle had a B-car in the early 1970s, and Adams spent every Saturday night at the historic Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas.

“I would ride in the truck bed all the way to the race track, and that feeling of being ‘part’ of a race team just hooked me from the get-go,” Adams remembers. “The atmosphere, the smell, the competition, and just every aspect of the dirt track made me feel special. Forty years later, and it’s still the exact same for me today.”

Adams’ racing career began in 1985 in the Go Kart division. While he continued to run Go Karts, he quickly expanded his resumé to also include drag racing and Sprint Cars.

Jay Adams

Jay Adams loves getting behind the wheel of anything, especially his Go Kart.

While these days, Adams mainly competes in Go Karts, he says his all-time love is Wingless Sprint Cars.

“Wingless Sprint Cars are both the most fun and most challenging racecars that I’ve ever driven,” Adams says with a laugh. “One minute, they are making you pull your hair out, and the next you are having the time of your life.”

A short walk away from Adams’ desk at the Memphis-based COMP Cams headquarters is the work station of racing ace Joseph Leister. The Memphis area driver has been racing in some facet for more than 23 years.

“From Go Karts to Modifieds, I’ve been lucky enough to get to race a little bit of everything so far in my career,” Leister quips. “My family has always eaten, breathed, and slept racing. It’s all we know how to do.”

Leister works as a new product engineer for COMP Cams, where he’s been an employee for nine years. The creative role that he gets to live on a daily basis is a dream come true.

Jay Adams 4

Adams is known for great-looking cars, like his Wingless Sprint Car.

“I get to come into work every day and develop prints and models for all of the new cam cores and retainers,” he says. “There’s always a new block being made, an engine builder with an idea, or a racer wanting to go faster that is inspiring an innovative design from me. I stay pretty busy, and I love every minute of it.”

Through the years, Leister has been a champion and race winner in both Modifieds and Go Karts. As of late though, he’s taken a step back from full-sized cars to again enjoy what the Go Kart ranks have to offer. This change in pace was ironically brought about by Adams. To bring things full circle, Leister also pilots Hubbard’s Go Kart.

“We bought a Go Kart from Jay to race on the side, when we weren’t running the Modified, but this year we’ve had so much fun that we’ve left the big car parked,” Leister says. “I’m also now racing the Go Kart that Derrick bought. I guess you can say that many of the COMP Cams employees are one big family at work and at the track.”

Derrick Hubbard (left) - Joseph Leister (right)

For these weekend warriors, they love chasing wins outside of the office. However, they also get great satisfaction from helping their clients reach their own goals.

“Honestly, for me, it probably gives me more enjoyment to help others win than I get from winning races myself,” Adams says. “Helping custom tailor a cam for a guy’s specific needs and then seeing it help get him to Victory Lane is an awesome feeling.”

Hubbard echoes some of the same sentiments.

“When I get a text from a customer, and he or she has won a race, it’s a definite feeling of accomplishment,” Hubbard proudly states. “I also get a lot of enjoyment out of not only winning races myself, but seeing drivers who race for me, like Joseph, pick up wins. It doesn’t matter who’s in the driver’s seat, we are all one big team and winning is the name of the game.”

A company is only as good as its employees. With the awesome staff that COMP Cams has, it’s no major surprise that they are the absolute leader in valvetrain technology.

Hubbard best sums up what the staff at COMP Cams brings to the table.

“Racing is what we do. It’s our nonstop passion.”

Source: COMP Cams,

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