It doesn’t matter whether IMSA’s WeatherTech Sportscar Championship racing season is ongoing or if the Action Express team is on hiatus from the track. Team manager Gary Nelson makes sure they’re always prepared for the next event.
Just as he did when he worked as a crew chief in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, Nelson engages his two-car team to perform the best they can, whether it’s in pit stop practice every single day they report for work or encouraging them to always be prepared for the next issue that might crop up.
“Expect to Win” is his theme for every racing endeavor in which Nelson has participated. When he was managing the Porsche V8 team in the former GrandAm Sports Car Series, the team members were a wee bit skeptical. Now that Nelson leads the championship Action Express squad, the crew are definitely listening to and appreciating every word from their experienced team leader.
Another aspect of Nelson’s leadership is his quest to always be prepared for “Disaster Times Two”, in which he guides the team to be prepared for any eventuality - times two. So if there is one failure in one of the two Daytona Prototype Corvette DP entries, Nelson wants to make certain any further difficulties can be overcome after the fact.
The objective is to have cars for which all eventualities are planned and anticipated. The two crews (for the No. 5 Mustang Sampling and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering) train to anticipate and work with anything that might possibly occur on and off the racetrack.
“Every driver in our No. 5 Corvette DP has won this race before,” Nelson explained. Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Scott Pruett all have victories, with Pruett looking for a record-breaking sixth title in the midwinter classic. “Having won the Rolex 24 before doesn’t make it easier to win,” Nelson continued, “but it does mean those four drivers know how to prepare and know what to expect throughout the event.”
Nelson’s ongoing preparation for the two crews should be equal to that of his drivers; he’s hoping the maladies that can occur - and likely will - won’t stop one of his crews and their drivers from attaining the highest step of the podium and the Rolex watches that come with the victory.