Since he was old enough to walk, Paul “Scooter” Brothers has been hanging around cars. His father was a mechanic his entire life and, as a result, Brothers was exposed to the wonderful world of automobiles at a very young age.
Brothers said that he was given his nickname when he was a newborn. A hospital staff member observed him trying to “scoot” across his bassinet in the post-delivery room. “Scooter” has been with him ever since.
Brothers’ love of the automobile was fed by spending his after-school time, summers and weekends helping his father, who owned his own repair shop.
While his father never really caught the racing bug, Brothers noted that it happened to him in high school. “I guess I got somewhat poisoned by the race stuff,” Brothers said. “In the late ’60s, I began hanging out with some of the guys who had started a company called Racing Head Service (RHS). I started getting involved and started going to races.” His racing and performance aspirations were put on hold for four years when he was drafted into the service. He spent his time in the Navy working on engines on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. When he returned, he went back to work for RHS and picked up where he left off. He’s been in the performance automotive business ever since.
“When I got out of the service, I started racing NHRA Super Stock for five or six years,” Brothers said. “It came to a point where I had to make a decision-I had to decide what I was going to be good at. Thankfully, I decided that business was more important than play. So I went down the business path, and it fortunately worked out pretty good for us.” Part of the success that Brothers has been associated with includes starting the mail-order business while at RHS. “In the early years at RHS, we actually were one of the first in the mail-order world,” he said. “I think Summit and Jeg’s were in their infancy at that point. People continued to push product through the normal three-tier distribution system, and we went mail-order and bragged about it and beat our chests to try and get things done.” The company turned its attention to crate engines in the mid ’80s. “Way back then, we were doing 2,500 engines a year,” Brothers said. “We were the first mail-order engine place that I know of.” Brothers’ responsibilities and duties changed when he made the move to Competition Cams in the late ’80s. The two companies had common ownership at that time, so the move was a change of duties, not employers.
“I moved from RHS over to Comp and began a fairly intensive R&D program,” he said. “We hired some engineers and began looking into the future. Shortly after that, we sold RHS.” Brothers has been with the company for 35 years. “We had someone retire the other day that had been here for 25 years,” he said. “I thought that sounded old until I remembered how long I’d been around here.” Brothers got involved with SEMA roughly 10 years ago. After working with the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council, he was asked by Chuck Blum to get involved in the very early phase of what would become the Technology Transfer program. “We were just conceiving the program, and were trying to get Ford to agree to participate,” Brothers said. “That was probably the first involvement I had with SEMA that really made a difference.”
While Brothers acknowledges his father as being the biggest influence in his life, he’s quick to also give credit to other individuals in the industry who influenced his career. “There have been a lot of people in our industry, but John McWhirter, who was one of the original partners in RHS, was an early mentor to me,” he said. “He took me under his wing and taught me some things about business that continue to be very profound today. Ron Coleman has also been a good friend and business partner and taught me how to be successful in business.”
“It sounds corny, but you become the people you surround yourself with,” Brothers noted. “I firmly believe that this is not a product or an individual business; this is a team business. And I’m so absolutely busting out with pride with the people that we have here at all the Comp companies. They help me look good, and they allow me to take the credit for a lot of the things they do. I really don’t do anything other than give them the tools to go do their job-and then probably one of the most important things I do is get out of their way and let them do their jobs.”
When he was told that he had been chosen as a Hall of Fame recipient, Brothers’ response was characteristically grounded and humble. “It’s an honor to be selected,” he said. “But on the other hand, it’s hard to think that people would feel this way about you when you’re just doing what you ought to do. I’m not doing anything special. I think they’re just running out of people to talk about,” he said.
This article is reprinted from the SEMA Hall of Fame.