Ganassi Definition Of A Racer

When people who know Chip Ganassi start talking abut him, one of the first words of their mouths is “racer.”

“People know that Chip is a racer,” Sterling Marlin said.

But exactly what is a racer? And why does Ganassi fit the mold?

Ganassi, of course, is famous in open-wheel circles, having won four straight CART titles from 1996 to 1999 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2000.

When he came to NASCAR in 2001, many eyebrows were raised, as people wondered whether Ganassi’s open-wheel success could transfer to NASCAR. CART and NASCAR are two different worlds, so just because Ganassi’s style worked in CART doesn’t mean it will work in NASCAR, cynics said.

Guess what? It worked. Marlin won a race and finished third in the Winston Cup points standings. Rookie Jason Leffler won a pole but had an otherwise bad year. Leffler was replaced by Jimmy Spencer, and many of the same cynics who questioned Ganassi now believe Marlin and Spencer will be as as formidable a tandem as, say, Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd.

Maybe that’s because Ganassi really is a racer. His approach to NASCAR management seems pretty simple, yet it’s been quite successful. Ganassi puts people first, making sure they have all they need to do their jobs. And he doesn’t consider anyone in his organization to be more important than another.

Last year, Spencer came to Ganassi’s shop in Mooresville, N.C. to talk about driving for Ganassi. Spencer’s mind wasn’t made up, for he was happy at Haas-Carter Motorsports. But something simple happened during Spencer’s visit.

“We were sitting in the office, and I’m looking (at the shop),” Spencer said. “I’m going, ‘That’s interesting.’ Chip says, ‘What’s that?’ I said, ‘The 01 and the 40 are sitting next to each other, and guys are working on them. How do you which guys are which?’ He said, ‘That’s the difference. Each guy has a job in this shop, and it doesn’t matter which car it is. It’s a team.’

“I sorta made my mind up right there. I stared smirking. I said, ‘This guy knows what the hell he’s doing.’”

Spencer made a deal that day, ending up in the No. 41 Dodge as Marlin’s teammate. Since then, Spencer has had nothing but good things to say about Ganassi.

“You know what I consider a racer?” Spencer asked. “I consider a racer a guy that wants to be successful and win. That’s obviously what Chip does. But what he does more than anything – it’s really interesting. I know he’s not going to want to hear this – but he doesn’t look at the bottom line. He might look at that through somebody else, but from what I see in his racing shop, the guys get excited when the owner walks in. They know he’s looking at the cars: ‘What can I do for you guys? What can we do to get better?’”

Ganassi knows his team can only get better if the people who work for him make it better. Yes, Ganassi is the owner, but he’s not the driver, the crew chief, the fabricator or the secretary. Someone else fills those roles, and if they know they are appreciated, they’ll work harder.

“At the end of the day, as an owner, you have to look at business, look at your team and say, ‘Wait a minute. Now what is best for this group of people?’” Ganassi said. “It keeps coming back to people. I look at myself and I look at our group of people.”

And all of his people do is work on race teams. Ganassi has a stake in some outside businesses interests like Chicago Motor Speedway and the Pittsburgh Pirates, but his bread and butter are his CART and NASCAR teams.

That’s what makes him a racer, Ganassi said.

“I’m in this business every day,” Ganassi said.

“I don’t have other business. Believe me, some days I wish I did. People said for four or five years I was knocking off Roger Penkse (in CART), and I often said I would trade my Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with him for his Mondays through Fridays because he was very successful Monday through Friday, and he was having a tough time on the weekends at the race track.

“Look at Rick Hendrick. There’s somebody who is very successful Monday through Friday and Friday, Saturday, Sunday for that matter. He’s got it all happening right now.”

Of course, Ganassi has good things happening now, too.

“To me, when somebody says “a racer” … that’s all I do,” Ganassi said. “I don’t know whether that’s good or bad. That’s what it means to me. I’d like to think I have a little better understanding of what these drivers are talking about. At least I used to when I used to drive these things.

“I’ve always had teams that I tried to put out there and give the guys the tools they need to work with. I try to put teams out there that I would be proud to drive for if I was a driver.”

Ganassi drove in CART for a few seasons before an accident and constant struggles with performance ended that part of his racing career. He turned to ownership, buying part of another team before venturing out on his own in 1990. It took a few years, but Ganassi soon became a powerhouse owner in CART.

And one of the reasons seems to be the way he treats his employees.

“He doesn’t call them dumb asses, he doesn’t point fingers at them and say, ‘You know, you guys screwed up, you bunch of idiots,’” Spencer said. “You never hear negativism come out of Chip’s voice. In turn, the racer that he is, he gives these guys whatever it takes to be successful. That’s what I’ve noticed about him. That’s why I’m excited about being on board.”

Anything his team needs, they get, Spencer said.

“These guys can’t say, ‘Well, my damn car owner wouldn’t let be buy an extra set of tires,’ or, ‘My car owner didn’t let me test, my car owner didn’t let build a new car,’ ” Spencer said. “I’ve been through these situations. That’s the difference between Chip and a lot of the other guys that call themselves racers.”

Ganassi doesn’t claim to be a racer. He only acts like one.

Photos

  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • Darlington Paint Schemes
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular

Advertisement

You may unsubscribe at any time.
Motor Racing Network
555 MRN Drive
Concord, NC 28027
www.mrn.com/Footer/Contact-Us.aspx
(704)262-6700
feedback@mrn.com
  • © 2015 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites