Someone once said, “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” That saying holds true for Shawn Rizzo, owner and mastermind of Kraken Motorsports. Rizzo, along with his wife, Alicia and best friend Phillip MacPherson have taken their love of cars, passion for racing and a desire to provide service and turned it into a successful business. Winner of the 2019 Fort Worth Business Plan Competition, Kraken Motorsports is an automotive performance shop that builds, modifies and maintains cars.
Working only with import cars, the technicians at Kraken Motorsports provide quality solutions to car enthusiasts who want a car tailor made for them. Most of their clients are people who drive their cars to work during the week and take them to the track on the weekends. They come from all walks of life and range from high school students to 50+ year old working professionals. They are typically asked to improve a vehicles performance over what factory levels are. Rizzo’s shop does exhaust and fuel system work, turbo swaps and engine building, aftermarket part installations and regular maintenance among other things. They can make flames shoot from the car’s exhaust system, but they don’t recommend it! Normal maintenance issues may take 1-4 days, an engine rebuild may take 8-10 weeks and they have some projects that have taken more than a year to complete. The greater the scope of work, the longer it takes to complete the work, but Rizzo and his team stand behind their work and treat each customer with integrity and respect. They don’t work on domestic cars, not because they don’t like them, but simply because there are a lot of great domestic shops in the area that do better work for the same money. Rizzo has a relationship with these shops and often refers clients to them. His desire is to give customers the best product and experience he can give them, even if it means sending them somewhere else to get it. Including Shawn and Phillip, there is one other technician Josh Duncan who recently came on board and is just as passionate about performance cars and racing as they both are.
Reflective of the owner, Kraken employees who work in the shop are greeted by colorful cartoons and graffiti on the walls of his shop. They are also treated to a wide-range of music selections. The art wall reflects messages Rizzo wanted to convey without having to say anything. The music is a huge part of helping create the atmosphere as well. The eclectic mix of music is serious business. Anything from Frank Sinatra to Our Lady Peace, Blink 182, Bowling for Soup, Toad the Wet Sprocket…country, rock, grunge, punk, pop…they listen to it all. The art and the music help create an environment that makes working at Kraken fun and memorable, not only for his employees, but also for his clients. His customers truly get a unique experience when they visit his shop.
Rounding out the staff at Kraken Motorsports is his best friend and wife of 30+ years, Alicia Rizzo. Alicia doesn’t just handle the business though, she herself is a racer through and through. Alicia has worked on her own cars since before they started this business. She helped build her amazing 440 WHP Subaru STi and she drag races every chance she gets. She was a divisional qualifier in the O’Reillys bracket series two years in a row and loves going to car shows. She also mentors and encourages other females to get into cars and racing. Having been married and friends for so long, Shawn and Alicia know each other very well and are there to strengthen and complement each other. According to Shawn, she is the driving force behind Kraken Motorsports and has the intellect to take them to amazing places.
As with any business, there are challenges that face Kraken Motorsports and other performance car builders. One of the biggest challenges is the legality of the cars they build and the EPA/Government role in it. There are many shops that have been shut down for blatantly disregarding federal emissions laws. Rizzo and his staff build cars to ensure they are street legal. They do not sell or install anything that has been pinpointed by the EPA as being a direct violation of the Clean Air Act. Kraken actively works with local congressmen and groups such as SEMA (Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association) in an effort to get outdated laws changed, which would allow them to build the performance cars people want without compromising the environment. Until some of these laws are changed, it will be a little more expensive to build these cars, but the right thing to do for their clients and the business.
Loving what they do, Shawn and Alicia spend most of their free time building and racing cars. While at home, they spend time with their furry “children”: two cats, Shadow and Eva and their beloved Australian Shephard, Lexi. On the rare occasions that they are away from the shop, they enjoy traveling anywhere known for food and wine. They love the outdoors and make time to go camping, kayaking and paddle boarding – traveling in their off-road equipped Subaru, of course.