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Innovative Turbo Systems Interview - Interrogation Room

The Innovative Turbo Systems Founder Discusses Michael Jackson, Going 200 Mph, And The Beauty Of Propane

Roel F. Concepcion
Jul 1, 2003
Sstp_0307_01_z+innovative_turbo_systems_rick_head+wastegate Photo 1/1   |   Innovative Turbo Systems Interview - Interrogation Room

Innovative Turbo Systems is the next big company to come out of the import-car industry since the makers of pine tree air fresheners. With its high-quality turbo systems and components, Innovative has marched from a small start-up to a raging conglomerate, and the master behind the boards is Rick Head.

Super Street: First off, you have a beautiful place here. You must be stacking mad banks. Can I borrow $100?Rick Head: Yeah, of course.

SS: Without having to pay it back.RH: Yeah, I'll give you $100.

SS: OK, I'll keep that in mind for later. How long have you been working with turbochargers?RH: I've been in the turbocharger industry since 1989. The import scene started to get big in the early '90s, and during that time, I was working for Turbonetics, which was the only game in town.

SS: Why did you leave Turbonetics?RH: I had a lot of ideas on where I wanted to go with the performance aftermarket. I felt that I could best execute those ideas if I was on my own and had good people around me. Because of the need in the performance aftermarket that wasn't being met, Innovative came out to build turbos that have, for example, better turbine wheels, ball bearing systems and different housings. We're here to give racers and customers what they're asking for, and that didn't exist before.

SS: How long has Innovative Turbo been up?RH: Innovative has been up for three and a half to almost four years.

SS: Innovative is known around the industry as the up-and-coming company to bust out of the scene. Where do you want Innovative to be in five years?RH: I want to be the largest performance turbocharger manufacturer out there, and I want to get there by being the best by offering the best customer service and the best product.

SS: What's your game plan when it comes to big companies like HKS or GReddy?RH: I let my product do the talking. People use my product to be fast and win races. Since we're a small company, we concentrate on putting out the best product.

SS: Who's on your client list?RH: Bob Rieger, Stephan Papadakis, Matt Hartford, Brent Rau, Vinny Ten, GM Racing, and countless others.

SS: That's a pretty impressive list. Why do you think they choose to go with you and Innovative Turbo Systems?RH: I've always been honest and straightforward, and I try to provide the best customer service that I can. Also, because I race, I can communicate to racers on a different level. There's no intimidation on either side. If they explain to me what's happening with their system, I can help them. I've got an insight on what they're doing. If you're gonna help a racer, it helps to be a racer.

SS: How does a regular tuner off the street go about getting an Innovative turbocharger?RH: We usually try to refer them over to their nearest distributor. If they have nobody, we just help them directly. They can go to or call 805/526-5400.

SS: What kind of cars do you own?RH: I have a '91 Corvette, a race-ready Camaro, and an Audi A4.

SS: Where do you race?RH: I've been landspeed racing since 1999. I actually went to Bonneville and raced a Corvette up to 189 mph. I've never been that fast before, but I wanted more. So in the next couple of seasons after that, we twin-turboed that sucker and went 220.38 mph, which got me in the Bonneville 200mph Club.

SS: That's pretty fast. How does it feel to go 220 mph? Were you so scared that you soiled yourself?RH: No, because in Bonneville, it feels like you're driving down the freeway, just really, really fast.

SS: It seems like you don't get scared very often. But would you sleep in Michael Jackson's bed while he sleeps on the floor with Bubbles and Macaulay Culkin?RH: Is there any money involved?

SS: No, you just have to do it.RH: Nah.

SS: Why not? Does Michael scare you too much?RH: Michael scares everybody, so it's a no.

SS: If you walked through the desert with a horse with no name, what three things would you bring to keep you sane and alive?RH: A CD player blasting Linkin Park and some House of Pain, a big ice chest, and a 30-pack of Miller Lite.

SS: Propane or Charcoal?RH: Propane, because it's highly explosive.

By Roel F. Concepcion
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