Gearbox Magazine is all about bringing gearheads together. This week, we feature an interview with DSMtuners founder, Chris Raymond. Ever wonder why the biggest DSM site in the world was started? What challenges they’re facing, or why they do it? Read on! What’s your real name? (What’s your screen name?)
Chris Raymond (Ludachris)
Where do you live?
Lone Tree, CO.
What do you do for a living?
Web developer and community builder/manager.
What Mitsubishi(s) do you drive? How long have you had it/them?
1991 Eclipse GSX – took it over from my wife around 1998/99.
What’s your build philosophy/goals for your DSM? How do you use it?
My GSX is a track car mostly, as I enjoy doing NASA Time Trials/HPDE. I’d like to keep it somewhat streetable, but mostly just for weekend drives. My philosophy has always been to modify the car for performance and keep a relatively stock appearance. I like my modifications to look like they were done at the factory or by a race car builder. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s always the goal.
You started a Mitsubishi community. What’s it called? When did you start it?
DSMtuners.com – started in 2001 as a Parts Guide/Modification Guide resource for DSM owners to help them find all the aftermarket performance parts available on the market for their cars and give them more information to help them modify their cars the right way.
Who are your members? How many are there? Where do they come from?
Our site consists mostly of performance DSMers. We have over 100k members, though not all of them are active anymore. They come from all over the nation, and some from around the world. Since our site caters to the performance crowd with the content we offer, we tend to attract people interested in making their DSM faster. We’ve had several well known DSMers like David Buschur and John Shepherd participating in our Tech forums, just to name a few.
Why did you decide to start a Mitsubishi community?
I was tired of scouring forums and retailer websites trying to find out what parts were available for my GSX when I started modifying it, so I decided to build a resource myself. We launched a forum in order to promote a more friendly atmosphere than what was available at the time and it’s now the largest DSM community on the web.
Tell us about something really exciting your members have done or regularly do.
We have a really tight knit group of guys on our site, as well as in the DSM community in general. We’ve done a lot of fun things on our site over the years – we’ve put out a member calendar each of the past 6 years now, which is always fun. But I don’t know that anything compares to the recent support of Wendy and Brad Pate, through Wendy’s battle with cancer. It was something that has made me really proud to be a part of this community. The DSM community has always been a good group historically, with countless people willing to help others in the Tech forums, but this was something special. We had retailers, fabricators, and everyday people getting involved trying to make someone else’s life a little better in a time of great need. And though we all would have liked to see it work out differently, I know it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my days.
What’s the best part about running a Mitsubishi community? The most challenging?
The best part of running a Mitsubishi community is probably no different than running any other car community – meeting new people and building relationships. The DSM market has always been about being innovative and doing things with minimal resources. And that’s essentially what I’ve done with DSMtuners. It’s challenging anytime you have different personalities coming together, but it’s easy when most people are there for the same reason.
What excites you about the coming year? (Your DSM and your community)
Well, I just bought a welder this winter so I’m excited about doing some fabrication on my DSM. But I also have a baby girl due in late January, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have to devote to working on the car. As for the community, I look forward to another great year of innovation and passion from the members, sharing ideas and information like always. I’m hoping to get some more excitement built up around the idea of DSM road racing events. We’ll see how it plays out.
Do you organize any contests or face-to-face meets for your members?
From time to time, we’ll set up some informal contests but it’s been a while since we’ve done anything big. A few years back we gave away a driving seat system for console/online gaming. As for face-to-face meets for our members, I’ve been working hard on our regional forums lately, trying to incorporate some solutions to help locals build up more local resources and organize events more efficiently across the nation. I’ve found that many of the regional DSM sites do much to actually promote event organization and meets (they tend to just replicate the tech resources we offer), so I’m trying to do more to fill that need on our site.
How do you want your community to benefit Mitsubishi owners? What steps are you taking to make sure that happens?
We want people to modify their cars the right way and to take the cars to the track. We’ve had a policy in place for quite a while that prohibits street racing discussions on our site, as we don’t think they should be glamorized. It’s one thing that we do differently than most car sites out there. We feel that we’re in a unique position to help shape young minds and foster a sense of responsibility in our community, and we’ve approached the effort in a way that we feel will have a positive impact. It might drive some DSMers away, but we’re alright with that. Not only do we disallow street racing discussions, but we offer unique programs to help DSMers who want to go racing get sponsorship in return for special content contributions. I personally feel that all site owners should have a “no street racing” policy. It will only help our hobby live longer and grow the right way.
How do you feel building a Mitsubishi compares to building a Mitsubishi community?
In some ways building a DSM and a DSM community is very similar. If you have a positive attitude, treat every person with respect, and do things the right way, the car (or the community) will respond the way you want it to. You’ll always have a few headaches along the way, but being passionate and committed will always yield positive results. At least that’s my take on it.
How has your DSM build benefited from your involvement in the community?
My DSM build has come a long way due to all of the information I’ve gathered and experiences that have been shared by other DSMers. I’ve learned so much from others, but I’ve also been extremely inspired by other DSMers’ projects, and I think that inspiration is what has driven my build the most. It’s all about passion and there is plenty of passion left in this community, even though the last DSM rolled off the assembly line over ten years ago.
What’s next for your DSM?
I wouldn’t want to take up too much space with all the plans I have for my car. Basically, I want to do a bit of fabrication to lighten things up and make the car more fun on the road course. But I’d also like to retain some level of streetability if possible. You’ll have to follow my blog on DSMtuners for the details and updates!
What’s next for DSMtuners?
I’m always tinkering with the site. We just implemented a number of new regional forums and new features and policies in those forums in hopes of helping spur more local DSM involvement and participation. We’re also revamping our Parts Guide and Classifieds to make them even more useful for the community. I have a long list of things I’d like to do, but it will take time. You can be sure that we’ll continue to introduce new features though, just like we always have. Our site was the first to offer many features that are now common for auto enthusiast communities, and we plan to continue that trend.
Who has helped you the most along the way with the car? With the community?
I have some good friends, not all of which are DSMers but are car enthusiasts, who help out with the GSX from time to time. Not to mention all the people on the site who help answer questions here and there. As for the community, I can’t thank our site moderators and other leaders enough. It’s really the members who run this community, I just help them.
Were you inspired by any other Mitsubishi community organizer? Who? Why?
I can’t say it was a Mitsubishi community organizer that inspired me. If anything, it was a combination of other community organizers and online resources that motivated me and helped me see (and fill) a need in the DSM world. As I always say, anyone can open a car forum these days, but very few actually put in the work to build a complete website. If I had to pick an automotive website that helped inspire me, it would have been the old AudiWorld.com (now called QuattroWorld.com) that had the biggest impact on what I wanted to do with DSMtuners, back in 1999.
Who do you look up to in the Mitsubishi community?
I look up to people that not only have achieved some impressive stats with their DSMs, but specifically the ones who have done it and continue to take the time to mingle with the rest of the DSM community and share their experiences. It takes a certain type of person to build a powerful/fast DSM and then share with the entire community how they did it and continue to help the “common people.” We have a number of fast DSM owners on our site who have chosen not to limit their community interaction to a small DSM clique, but instead, continue to participate with the masses (the rest of us). I think that’s important, and it’s what keeps driving the DSM community. Those are the type of people I look up to.
Is there a particular shop you’d like to recommend? Want to thank any sponsors?
We’ve got some great site sponsors and I always recommend them to people. We greatly appreciate those vendors who have supported our site and the DSM community over the years. Some vendors will come and go, but we have just about every shop worth mentioning in the DSM world involved on our site. I always tell people that they should support the shops that support our site – as those are the shops that support the DSM community. Keep them in business and you’ll always have all the parts you’ll ever need for your DSM build.
Other than your own, do you spend time on any Mitsubishi sites? Which ones?
Can’t say I do. I really just don’t have time. And I think I owe it to our members to spend most all of my time on DSMtuners, contributing there instead of other sites.
Are you on Twitter? Facebook? YouTube? How can people find you online?
I don’t use Twitter, and only use Facebook once in a while to keep in touch with family. If you want to get in touch with me, DSMtuners is really the best place to find me. If I had time to tweet, I’d be getting nothing done.
Mitsubishi Gearbox Magazine would like to thank Chris and the several DSMtuners site team members for taking time from the community to contribute to this article. Gearbox Magazine is all about bringing gearheads together – around the world – to recognize what we have in common and to help each other out. Community leaders like Chris, Scott, Dino and the many more we plan on interviewing believe in helping YOU to get the most out of your Mitsubishi. Are you a member of DSMtuners? Why not take a moment to thank these guys or share a story about a time being a member saved your butt?