An Interview with Go-To Guy George Rumore

While George Rumore liked baseball and basketball while growing up on Long Island, New York, he liked cars and car parts a bit more, and would often forego the former to spend more time around the latter.

He attributes much of that to the fact that his neighbor was Kooks Custom Headers founder George Kryssing, Sr., who was working out of his own garage at the time and would allow Rumore to hang out to watch him make headers — and to fetch him coffee.

After going on to serve several years in the Marine Corps and then work as a car salesman, the young New Yorker interestingly and inspiringly returned to his roots and accepted a job offer from Kryssing to work for Kooks Custom Headers, which had grown exponentially and moved from Kryssing’s garage to a dedicated shop in Bayshore, New York.

As he efficiently handled marketing, sales, public relations and going to the races on behalf of the company, his skills shone within the race industry, and he became sought-after. In fact, several years into that position, he accepted a position as an automotive sales manager for Stainless Works in Chagrin Falls, Ohio in 2012 and remained there until he accepted a position as a technical sales manager for Wiseco in Mentor, Ohio in January of 2016. There, he continues to prove that he’s as committed to a company he believes in as he is to the company he keeps at the races.

“I’ll never be able to repay George for everything he has done for me since I met him at a race in Memphis several years ago,” said Billy Adams, crew chief for NMCA Wiseco Street Outlaw driver Phil Smith and owner of the ’02 Trans Am he drives. “If we burn the car up, he’s there with us repairing it and he doesn’t leave until it’s finished, even it means working overnight. We’re great friends, and he’s been there for me and for my family. He’s worth his weight in gold.”

Read on for more about Rumore, who lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio with his daughter, Bella, 12, and son, Anthony, 8.

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How did you go from becoming relatively unknown in the race industry to becoming the well-known man many seek out for help with everything from product information to pulling engines and putting cars in the beams?

When I first started working for Kooks, I didn’t know a lot of people, and when I would finish working in the manufacturers’ midway at the end of each day, I would walk around the pit area. I would carry a plastic bag with beer and ice because I didn’t have a cooler, and that’s when I started meeting people, including Billy Adams. He and I became fast friends, and I began helping him and Phil Smith and the rest of their team do things like scrape cylinder walls with muriatic acid. Then I started helping whoever else needed help.

You hit the ground running to represent Wiseco since joining the company in January of 2016, and many racers and race fans already associate you with the company after seeing you at several races.

I support the racing community to the best of my ability, and while I take part in racer relations and product implementation into the drag racing community, my focus is on getting the company’s name and products deeper and deeper into the community. I know a lot of people in the racing community, and I want them to know we make a great product. That’s why I’m at the races, and that’s how I plan to help grow the Wiseco brand. I will admit that I do feel some pressure with this job versus my other jobs, because now I work for a corporation rather than a smaller shop, but it’s a great company with a great vision, and I’m glad to be part of that vision. We have more than 380 employees, and we run three shifts. On our ground running, we have 250-280 CNC machining centers, and a research and development facility with a dyno. Drivers like Brad Edwards, DeWayne Mills, Dave DeMarco and Billy Glidden run our stuff, and engine-builder Sonny Leonard is using our products.

You’ve been known to develop programs at the companies you work for that provide discounts on products to members of the military, police officers, firefighters and other first-responders.

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Yes, I’ve done that at every company I’ve worked at, and I do it at Wiseco. I give every person who is of service to our country a discount, and that includes police officers, firefighters and paramedics, because some of those people are some of the most overlooked people in the world until you need them.

Engaging children at the various tracks, whether they’re children of racers or children of race fans, seems to be very important to you.

Yes, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that self-worth is very important to me. If I see a child who is different from other children in any way, shape or form, I’m going to give him or her a free shirt and see about letting them climb into a customer’s race car, because I want them to feel badass about who they are and what they’re doing. I think children are amazing. Three years ago, when I was with Stainless Works, I let kids paint on my race car if their parents donated money to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and I raced it like that until very recently when I painted it.

Is it safe to assume that you want your lifestyle and your job to be intertwined, and not separate from each other?

That’s exactly right. This is not just a job to me. It’s a lifestyle. It’s about having the same interests, unconditional friendship and sportsmanship. I’m very passionate about it, and I care about it. I want this sport to survive, and I want to do my part. When someone needs me to line them up on the starting line, I will do that, and I will send them down track. Even if I don’t know you, I will still help you.

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Your compassion and commitment are admirable.

The things I cherish most in this world are my children, my family and my racing family. I’m the kind of person who will do anything to help any of them. I think you already know this, but I’ve been known to stay up overnight to help racers work on their stuff to race the next day. At the race in Florida last year, Danny Shemwell nuked two pistons in his engine. I walked up to him and asked where he was at, and when he told me that two holes were hurt, I asked what we were going to do to make sure he can race. I was determined that we were going to fix that car and finish the race. So, we got the brake cleaner out, worked through the night, until 7 a.m. and then I ran to the hotel to take a quick shower and got back to the track. Then, we ended up winning the race. Helping these guys helps me as a person, and it helps the company I’m working for. It’s an amazing thing.

Because your focus is always on helping the company you work for and the racers at the track, not everyone knows that you pilot a race car with a pretty potent combination.

Yes, it’s a ’79 Camaro with a Nelson engine, ATF transmission, AFCO/Menscer
suspension, Neumann Race Cars four-link and nitrous. I had been running it in the 8.50 index deal, and then I raced NMCA Xtreme Street for two or three years. But since I was at Kooks at the time and we started supporting NMCA on a sponsor level, I made the decision to concentrate on getting to know the racing community as a Kooks representative and I raced my car locally when I could. Two years ago, I finished second in points in the Renegade Racing Association. Now, I plan to run Outlaw Limited Street locally. The car would go 5.0 to the eighth-mile back then, but I’ve had some work done and it will go 4.70s to the eighth-mile this year. I painted the car by myself last winter, and it’s flat-black. There probably should have been prep-work first, but there wasn’t, because it doesn’t have to be flawless. It just has to be fast. It’s not a prom-date car. It’s a race car that we call the Gangster Mullet.

What do you do when you’re away from the office and the track?

I like to spend time with my kids and my dog, who’s an English Mastiff. We go to the parks to go hiking, and we put the bikes in the back of my truck to go ride somewhere. I also coach my daughter’s lacrosse team, but when I don’t have my kids, I clean the house. I also love to cook, and I can cook well. I’ll open up a bottle of wine, put on some music and cook. I even make my own sauce. I always say I’m going to make someone an awesome wife some day.

Interview from the July 2016 issue of Fastest Street Car.

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