Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Get Set for 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series Season
Mitch Davis traveled to a garage sale in North Carolina to stock his garage in Brownsburg, Ind., aka Chip Ganassi Racing West.
There are a multitude of items to tackle in preparation for the IZOD IndyCar Series season, and the task been compounded for the start-up teams for Graham Rahal (No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing) and Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing) that were announced Dec. 16.
Fortunately for Davis, the team manager, items from workbenches to a refrigerator were available as a result of the merger of the Ganassi and Earnhart stock car operations. It was like tagging trees to cut in a forest; a shopping spree without being concerned about prices.
“Overnight, we were instantly a race team,” Davis says. “It’s all up and running. We’re crack checking parts and doing body fits on cars. The hardest part really is getting all the pit equipment and transporters painted and decaled and building all the spare wings. You can’t just have one front wing and bump the wall and say, ‘Oh, I need to buy another one,’ because it doesn’t exist. You have to buy all the components, have them painted and decaled and fit.”
Bell housings are lined up in one room. A stark white trailer occupies space near where a team member is assembling red cabinet drawers. Others are working on the electrical loom of Kimball’s Dallara chassis.
“To have gone from truck bays for an old race shop into a full IndyCar team, it all sets the stage for the season to come,” says Kimball, who’s moving up from Firestone Indy Lights.
It’s a work in progress to be sure, but after only two months in existence the group has come a long way to being competitive out of the box in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27.
Davis, who returned to Chip Ganassi Racing “with a smile on my face” after three seasons with other IZOD IndyCar Series teams, says 25 people are employed full time, with the two chief mechanics and two engineers moving over from the Target Chip Ganassi Racing operation in Indianapolis. Everyone that’s been hired has over-the-wall experience.
“When I came to work for Chip the last time he was just getting started in IndyCar and wanted me to come over because I had been in (INDYCAR), and this is just the perfect opportunity to come back,” Davis says. “The economy is growing again and Chip is taking advantage of the market with four cars, getting ready for next year with the new car and new engine packages coming.
“You look at what Chip’s done setting this up for the future and it’s a dream come true.”