Gears of Ganassi

The stories of the humans behind the wrenches presented by GearWrench®.


Episode 006: "In this industry, to have a winning team you have to have great drivers, great power and great cars but at the end of the day it comes down to who you are surrounded by. We have got to surround ourselves with good people, the best people, to figure out how to build a better mouse trap than the next guy. It’s always about the people- if there is one thing all of my experiences have taught me- it’s that it’s always about surrounding yourself with good people and appreciating those who have helped you along the way."


Episode 005: “I worked at a pretty big race team for about four years before getting let go. I was a young guy and took it pretty hard. I thought 'man, I’ve been doing the same thing since I was 17 - I need to do something different.' I enlisted in the service and became a parachute rigger - MOS 92 R. My dad was actually in the same MOS in Vietnam. Crazy how that worked out. Three months after I got home from training, I was deployed to Southeast Asia. My team did 60% of the aerial delivery to Afghanistan - we packaged fuel, food, water, and supplies on a pallet, put a parachute on it, and dropped it out of a plane. I joined because at the time, it seemed like that was all I could think about. I just felt like I needed to do something bigger than myself, I felt like I was missing something. I was just day in, day out - I needed to test my mental and physical abilities. That seemingly bad instance where I got let go really catapulted me onto greater things. Being in the Army taught me to appreciate things a lot more. It helped me learn that people just want to be surrounded by others with a good mindset and people who go after it. I think if I could have stayed deployed longer I would have - I loved it over there. I was fortunate enough that everyone I worked with came home. Upon returning, I finished up my pilots license, tried college for a bit to stay focused, and had odd jobs working with my hands - I'm a fabricator by trade. One day, I got a call from one of my old mentors about an opening at Ganassi. This guy was someone I worked with on my first race team - he taught me how to fabricate. I've always stayed in touch with him and never forgotten where I came from. I don’t know if those people will ever know how much they’ve impacted my life. I’ve now been at Ganassi for three years. I'm so grateful that CGR is supportive of unemployed Veterans. It’s crazy looking back on everything, from being fired to spending time overseas with the Army. You can sit back on the couch one day when you’re 70 or 80 and say ‘I wish I did’ - but I actually did.”


Episode 004: "I graduated college in 2011 and started working in advertising. I really liked it, but I got tired of sitting behind a desk all day - it wore me down. A buddy who moved down here from Richmond, told me about this whole NASCAR thing. I mulled it over for about 4-5 months and decided to quit my job to go for it. It was a huge gamble. We have a very finite amount of time for our careers. If you don’t perform, you don’t stay. There is always someone behind you to take your position. I figured I could do this for 10 years or so - I'm 4 years in, but what am I going to do after that? I had a great career in advertising and I just threw it away on a whim. It would be really difficult to get back into a field that changes daily like marketing and advertising when all I did was hang tires for the past 10 years. I started talking to a few guys upstairs and from there I started interning as a research support role in the new business department. About a year ago, I was able to get a part-time salary to work in new business. When I get out of here, I will have a really cool story to tell about pitting race cars. Not only did I travel 38 weekends out of the year and pit race cars, but I also worked in the business side. I think I am more excited about that opportunity."


Episode 003: "After my collegiate football career at Clemson University, I ended up going to the Tennessee Titans as a Linebacker. I was driving to my first camp and about three hours from Nashville, I saw a car that was smoking. I followed it for about ½-mile and realized that the driver had no idea what was happening. At first, there was just a little bit of smoke and then all of the sudden two fireballs shot out of the car. BOOM! BOOM! I thought, ‘man this can’t be good.' The first thing my eyes were drawn to were the three kids in the back seat. I sped up and tried to get beside her, blowing the horn and waving. She’s looking at me like I’m crazy. Eventually she pulled over. I ran up to the car screaming, ‘your car is on fire!' My adrenalin kicked in and I ripped open the back door to grab the kids. Two were in car seats and one in a booster seat. Flames were coming through the vents and the tires started popping. I knew I had to move quick. I grabbed my knife and just started cutting seatbelts, yanking the kids out of the vehicle. After I got them to a safe place and saw that their mom got out of the car, I ran back to grab the dog and the mom's purse. It all happened so quickly. It was a crazy day to begin with - I already had so many emotions traveling to my first camp as a rookie. I was focused on the hard work that I knew was ahead of me. I was just driving along, then the next thing I knew I was grabbing a family out of a burning car. It was such a rush that I didn’t really know how dangerous it was until it ended. I remember driving after everything was over and started feeling sore. I realized how true it is when that rush of adrenaline hits, you don’t really feel any physical pain... Somehow I still made it to camp on time. I felt like what I did was a simple act of kindness. I posted a picture of the burning car on Facebook and then all the sudden my phone started going off non-stop. Clemson was calling me, Good Morning America, JET magazine and all sorts of other people. The Governor of South Carolina sent me a personal thank you letter, I was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Award, I even received the Courage Award from the city of Nashville. I didn’t think I was any sort of big deal you know? I’m just the type of person to do something like this and not think twice. I just wanted to help someone out I guess. God put me in the right place at the right time because he knew I would find it in my heart to stop and help this family to safety."


Episode 002: “My cousin left about five years before I did. I was 16 years old and one morning, I told my parents 'I’m leaving.' It was 20 degrees out. I got on my bike and rode 30 miles to my cousin’s house. I left the Amish community with no money, only the clothes on my back and my bike. From when I was probably 12 years old, I started looking out of the Amish and seeing what everyone else was doing and everything the ‘English’ could do. In a way, it was probably the neighbor kids having four-wheeler’s and all the fun they would have while I was home working that got me thinking. By the time I was 16, I knew I wanted to get out and experience it all. My family was and still is pretty torn up about it. The Amish take it pretty hard when someone leaves. I can still go back and see them and when I go back I try to be respectful to everyone.

The day after I left, my cousin had a job for me tearing down old barns. He eventually moved down to North Carolina and got a job in racing. Back in the Amish, on Sunday afternoons, I would take my pocket radio (that I didn’t want to get caught with) and tell my parents I was going to go sit in the tree stand and see if there were any deer around… but I was actually sneaking out to listen to the races. I didn’t know much about it, but it was something I wanted to learn more about. At the beginning of last year, I called my cousin and told him that I want to work in racing too. I came down to visit him and worked for a K&N team for free for two weeks. Right after that, the boss told me to pack my bags and move down to NC. After some time there, I joined Ganassi this past August in the Fab Shop.

I don’t feel like there was anything wrong with leaving. I guess it’s just where destiny took me. I just kind of kept going and went from one place to the next and it led me here. In February, it was 5-years since I had left. I have five sisters and three brothers back there, a twin sister actually. I don’t think any of them want to leave. My younger brother actually just joined the church and my twin sister got married last year. I wasn’t invited to that. But, I was invited to my good friend’s wedding so I went back for his last year. More people from the Amish actually talk to me now. They are all curious about being down here and working in racing. They’re all really nice as long as you don’t come back and be disrespectful. I dressed in Amish clothes at the wedding and I try to be respectful to everybody. We still write letters back and forth to communicate. They only call me on my cell phone if it is an emergency because, you know, they don’t think I should have my cell phone.

People leaving has been happening for a long time, but its still a huge step. I had to think about leaving for a long time and try to figure out how to make it. It was a really scary thought at first, but I figured if other people could make it I could too. Something as simple as going to McDonald's and ordering, I had no idea what I was doing. That’s something that the 'English' always had growing up. At 16 years old I was thinking at the drive thru, ‘you mean I just talk to that box right there?’ I wasn’t totally comfortable with the English language until I went to college after I left and got my High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) - my first language was Pennsylvania Dutch. They said they had never seen anyone with an 8th grade education get the HSED so quick, so that was cool. Even though I think it was the right thing that I left, I got some really good things from being a part of the Amish: they push you hard, I got a really good work ethic from them and I think I respect people more than a lot of people do. It’s helped me a-lot. If someone told me on the day I left that I would be working at Chip Ganassi Racing, I would say ‘you’re crazy,’ but here I am, going to the track this weekend. I never thought I would be sitting here in five years.”


Episode 001: "She ended up getting cancer a few years ago. When she did, I stopped going on the road. I was doing the racing while she was doing the raising, so when she got sick I decided if something were to happen to the old girl, I will be there. Stuff like that makes you think, you know? I've been married 43 years and couldn't have gotten where I am without her. Forty-three years is a long time... there's a lot that is different in the world in general. There is so much stuff to entertain you today compared to when I was a kid. When I was young, it was a good day if you got to listen to a ball game on the radio - you didn't have these venues and all this stuff going on. You just had the race track. It was different back then... we would go to the Saturday night fights and maybe there would be a race going on. But my wife, she's doing real good now."