Wednesday, August 13, 2008

NASCAR Crewman - Part 3

Travis Geisler, center, talks to NASCAR driver Ryan Newman and crew chief Roy McCauley before the Brickyard 400 at Indy last month.


By Mike Jones
Staff writer

As Travis Geisler grapples with the changes at Penske, he gladly doles out advice to newcomers who want to pursue a career in NASCAR: “Pound the pavement and work your butt off.”

Tweaking setups on cars at the local tracks is a good way to get a start in the sport, but crew members must understand the differences between a weekend hobby and the responsibilities involved with the demanding full-time job. He suggested packing up and going down to North Carolina to hook up with a low-level Nationwide or Truck team. The experience with a smaller team is invaluable. And don’t underestimate the value of hard work from a sport that most fans enjoy with more than a few beers

“He’s working his ass off. If that’s living the dream, I guess he is,” said his father Lynn Geisler. “It’s far different than what people think it is. It’s definitely work, and if you’re going to be serious about it, it’s going to be even more work.”

The track testing is extreme. Travis Geisler digests a tremendous amount of data during those tests at the track or in the wind tunnel. But by the time they get to race weekend, it’s more about listening to the driver than the computers.

Geisler spent 182 days on road last year. By early July, he already had been away from his family for 105 days. Being on the road is somewhat difficult because it’s less time he can spend with his wife, Carrie, and their newborn son, Noah.

“It’s hard to explain what working in this environment is like,” he said. “It’s not like a normal job. Things don’t operate under a normal pretense. It’s a crazy job and that’s what makes it fun and alluring as a career.”

It’s not a regular job at the office, but more rewarding for Geisler. He compares it to typical engineering work that may take months or years to produce results. In NASCAR, a hard week at the shop can mean the difference between packing for home early or spending the afternoon in Victory Lane.

“I can’t think of another job where I would get this type of satisfaction out of my work, especially for a competitive race team,” he said. “But the glory of this deal goes away after about the sixth or seventh week.”

In a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” sport such as NASCAR, Geisler already has accomplished a lot.


1 comment:

Roger said...

Nice pieces, Mike. I wish I could spend a week following a team, and then more time in the engineering side of the business.

The combination of machine and human elements is probably the reason I'm drawn to motor sports.