Panther Names IndyCar Veteran Chris Mower as Team Manager
Experienced Open-Wheel Team Manager Joins Two-Time IndyCar Series Champions
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- (November 5, 2008) -- Over thirty years after John Barnes worked with Chris Mower's father at Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing, the Panther Racing co-owner announced his team has signed the open-wheel veteran as its new team manager. Mower, who most recently worked in the same position with Conquest Racing, brings a strong family lineage and over 20 years of experience in the racing industry.
"Chris brings a great depth of knowledge and experience to our team, and we're excited about having him," Barnes said. "What impressed me most is that he's incredibly organized, has a sound mechanical mind and has been raised in this business. He's somebody that's going to make our entire team better and operate efficiently during a time when our expectations are very high."
Mower started his new position with the team on Monday morning.
"I am extremely excited about my new position here at Panther Racing and I am impressed with the crew John has accumulated here over the past 10 years," Mower said. "I am really happy to be part of the team and I am definitely looking forward to the 2009 season, working with Dan Wheldon will be the icing on the cake as I have raced against him many times in the past and it is nice to know he is in our No. 4 car. John and Jane have given me a fantastic opportunity here and I don't plan on wasting it!"
Earlier this season, previous team manager Ron Catt moved to a more hands-on role in overseeing the team's two-car Indy Lights operation. Following the success of that transition, Barnes elected to keep Catt in that role on a permanent basis when he secured Mower for the team manager position.
"This move strengthens the entire Panther Racing organization," Barnes continued. "One of the reasons this move took place was because of the success and strength of our Firestone Indy Lights program under Ron Catt's direction. I've had such a long relationship with Ron that I was glad to have somebody I could trust to focus full-time on the expansion and development of that end of our operation."
Barnes first worked with Mower's father Derek in 1970 when Barnes was a mechanic with Mario Andretti and Derek Mower served in the same role with Al Unser, Sr., who won the Indianapolis 500 that season. In 1974, the two mechanics again worked together for Bob Fletcher Racing. Now Barnes turns to his former teammate's son to solidify the administration side of Panther.
After starting in the 1980s polishing wheels for his father's race team, Mower quickly climbed the ladder from gofer, to mechanic, engineer and team manager.
He spent two seasons in Formula One with Team Lotus in 1992-1993 with drivers Johnny Herbert and Mika Hakkinen, before moving back to F-3000 and Nordic Racing, a team his father was starting. He collected two F-3000 championships during his time working in Europe, in 1991 with Christian Fittipaldi and again in 2001 with Justin Wilson taking the championship and former Panther driver Tomas Enge finishing runner-up in points.
In 2003 Mower became the Team Manager for Conquest Racing, a position he held until moving to Panther this week.
Wheldon is slated to drive the team's No. 4 entry in the IndyCar Series and Panther has already confirmed British drivers Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann will pilot the team's two Indy Lights cars in 2009. Formed in 1997, Panther Racing has collected a combined total of 28 wins in both the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights, and won IndyCar championships in 2001 and 2002 with Sam Hornish Jr. and the 2003 Indy Lights championship with Mark Taylor.