Northern California prep shop TFB Performance operates out of historic Sonoma Raceway
Tim Barber opened up TFB Performance in 2009. At that point he had been making a living driving cars – USAC Silver Crown sprint cars, most recently, although he had done a lot of road racing and some stock car racing as well. He also did some driver coaching on the side, but quickly found out it wasn’t only the driver that needed help. “What ended up happening most of the time was the car was far worse than the driver,” Barber explains. “I’d tell the guy, “I can get so much out of you, but we can take a lot more out of the watch if we fix your car.
This journey began in 2009, evolving into all TFB does today. “In addition to all the club racing Spec Miata stuff, we did the MX-5 Cup in 2016 and 2017, and this year we’re doing NASA, SCCA, Pirelli World Challenge and we have some TA2 customers so we’re running Trans-Am as well,” Barber explains.
Barber’s customers that ran the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich® Tires won’t be running that series this year, instead concentrating on club racing with the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at TFB’s home track of Sonoma Raceway, where the shop is located, and the Toyo Tires big-money race at the NASA Nationals at Circuit of the Americas. Both club racing venues are a big part of TFB’s business because San Francisco Region of SCCA and NASA NorCal are some of the biggest regions in their respective organizations. Barber estimates that he’s influenced probably half of the local Spec Miatas at some point.
“We do everything,” he says. “We had a guy just come in and we did a setup for him. We have our core group of customers for whom we build the cars, prep the cars, transport the cars and they just show up at the racetrack. We probably have five or six Spec Miatas alone that we do arrive-and-drive and everything at the Runoffs on. But how many cars in the field would I have worked on? I have a dyno, so whether or not I work on the car, they’ll come to me to dyno the car or do setups or something.”
Barber’s range of experience has given him the insight to solve lots of problems with both drivers and cars, he says, but he makes his business largely on the basics – getting the job done correctly and on time. “Doing what we say we’re going to do and making deadlines,” Barber explains of his business plan. “There’s no black magic in this, but being reliable in the racing industry seems to really put you on the pointy end of things.”
And considering TFB and its customers have their sights set on the Runoffs and the NASA Nationals, Barber says he expects to be quite busy between now and this fall.