DRIVEN TO WIN, NASCAR CREW WEIGHS IN
In other sports, it’s called ‘calling your shot.’ But for a young boy named Andy Street, who like so many others on Tobacco Road, grew up in awe of speed and idolizing race car legends in the heart of NASCAR country, he was simply following his dream. A dream that Andy was determined to have come true one way or another. In fact, on one particular day in Kernersville, North Carolina, after a visit to the track with his family, a then 10-year-old Andy Street told his parents, “I’m going to work in NASCAR when I grow up.”
Put the pedal down and fast forward a few years, but not that many miles away from where Andy did all his growing up. The Future NASCAR team member was busy earning a degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Where he hoped his educa-tion would put him in the driver’s seat for a job with the Richard Childress Racing team. Turns out RCR, happened to like a great deal of what they saw in Andy and gave him the opportunity to prove himself under the hood and down in the pit. See, dreams do come true, and Andy’s certainly had done just that—leaving his family proud and Andy at the beginning of what would be the next lap in his life.
It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.
Andy has seen his share of experience both in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and in the Cup Series. So, it was no great surprise that after years of hard work, dedication, unmatched passion and more wrenches and auto floor scrubbers than he probably cares to recall, Andy was promoted to crew chief within the organization’s Xfinity Series program. “I was ready, this was my shot to put everything I learned in college to use.” says Andy. In fact, RCR has a long-standing tradition of utilizing NASCAR’s developmental series to grow and develop talent from within the organization. For Andy, he has reached the coveted crew chief role and there’s no way he’s taking his foot off the gas to stop and smell the burning rubber.
“The crew chief is like the quarterback of the team.”
Look around a good shop, and besides things like diagnostic equipment, tires, lifts, and wheel actuators, you’ll find a team of 10 to 12 guys that have been assembled to do nothing short of bringing home a championship. You’ll also find a crew chief orchestrating his team. Now, more than a year into his role as crew chief, Andy has become the leader the rest of the crew look to, to set the pace. To say Andy’s job is multi-faceted would be an understatement. You could look at the roles of a crew chief and define them as part engi-neer, part technician, but in reality his role encompasses everything. “The crew chief is like the quarterback of the team.” notes Andy. “He’s the one that has to survey the defense and based upon what he’s seeing, call the right play, then run the play.” The crew chief according to Andy is no different. “Depending on the car and what we’re getting out of it that week will determine our strategy going into the race. I’ve got to make that call and then get the rest of the team to carry it out.” Ultimately, the crew chief has to coordinate all of the input needed for the car to run at its peak.
“The only thing as important as the car is the driver.” states Andy. Andy and Austin Hill, driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro for the Xfinity Series, must be on the same page. The two collaborate to ensure the car’s successful performance each week. Their alignment goes a long way to making sure the team finishes where they have set their goal. While Andy is quick to point out the major signif-icance of the driver’s role; he does, like all good leaders, make sure to call attention to pretty much the entire team and the impor-tance of each of their roles. However, of particular note to Andy, next to the car, driver and tires, is the spotter. Considered the drivers’ extra set of “eyes,” a spotter’s job is to keep the driver alert to what is occurring on the track by relaying the info directly to the driver in real-time via two-way radio communication. Positioned somewhere high enough to see the entire track, the spotter keeps in con-stant contact with their driver – a key teammate and an integral part of the team’s overall success.
“The real work done to win a race happens during the week leading up to the race itself. It takes a team.”
Despite what the outside observer might believe, getting a car ready to race is more than tightening down some lug nuts, changing the oil and filling the tank. There is a tremendous amount of critical thinking that needs to be applied by Andy to get the car ready for the next race. “The real work done to win a race happens during the week leading up to the race itself. It takes a team.” explains Andy. As crew chief, Andy and the team must take every variable into consideration to game plan for success. Whether it’s something as significant as aerodynamic calculation, tire sensitivities from track to track, brake pressure adjustments, steering and suspension alterations or even the type of spark plug to run with, calculations like these, as well as many more decisions need to be made and then implemented by the crew. That’s where having a team you can trust comes into play. “The crew I work with is amazing. This team is passionate and motivated. They show up ready to get to work, to win. I don’t have to motivate them, they’re already motivat-ed.” notes Andy. “We’re on the same page. We just have to formulate a strategy and a goal for the race and then go implement it.” he adds. Andy is as competitive as they come. So, he’s going to do all he can to help the team and the organization succeed week in and week out. As for his crew, he feels they are just as competitive, and believes this helps only serve to strengthen the team. At the end of the day, Andy knows he and his team are taking the steps necessary to help the team and the organization succeed week in and week out. For Andy Street, being a team player has allowed him to follow his dream and chase a cup.
Having a crew chief and a team everyone can rely upon is an important part of an organization’s success. Really, that same ideal ap-plies to any type of organization–big or small, manufacturing or service-based. Once you build a team that can function independent-ly, but works stronger together, then success is sure to follow. Maybe not at 200 mph.
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