310 Racing's Nanny Merits Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award Chief Mechanic for George Mack Keeps Rookie Driver on Steady Path to Spot in Starting Grid INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2002) - Considering his college major was accounting, the...
310 Racing's Nanny Merits Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award Chief Mechanic for George Mack Keeps Rookie Driver on Steady Path to Spot in Starting Grid
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2002) - Considering his college major was accounting, the last place you might expect to find Jamie Nanny is toiling on an Indy car in Gasoline Alley. Yet the love and dedication the 28-year-old nurtured for the sport over the past decade has him right where he wants to be, and it led today to Nanny being named 2002 recipient of the Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award, sponsored by Firestone Racing.
Nanny, chief mechanic for 310 Racing and rookie driver George Mack, is the 16th Indianapolis 500 chief mechanic to earn the Brawner award. The honor is determined annually by a distinguished committee of race veterans and goes to the chief mechanic who "exemplifies the mechanical and scientific creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, dedication, enthusiasm and expertise" of its legendary namesake. The late Clint Brawner was chief mechanic on winning cars in 51 AAA and USAC national championship races, and guided six season champions.
The Firestone Racing program sponsors the Brawner award for the sixth consecutive year. As the recipient, Nanny will receive a $5,000 check and plaque, and his name will be inscribed on a permanent trophy housed inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
"I didn't think it would happen this early in my career," Nanny said upon learning he was this year's winner. "I've seen the award and seen the names that are on it. I always told myself this was one of my career goals. It's a real honor to be a part of this and to be considered in the same league as all the gentlemen on the list."
Nanny caught the racing bug as a high school senior in 1991, when he served as a "gofer" for an Indy team during May. He went on to earn his accounting degree at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., but helped pay for college - and feeding his hunger for racing - by working on car owner Dick Simon's crew in '93 and '94.
Nanny earned his degree in '95, but "by the second semester of my senior year, I pretty much knew I didn't want to be an accountant," he said. He worked four accounting jobs in seven months after graduation, until the inception of the Indy Racing League in '96 opened the door to his true career love.
Joining Treadway Racing in January '96, Nanny was a crewmember when Arie Luyendyk set the Indianapolis 500 qualifying record of 236.986 mph on Firestone tires and was part of Luyendyk's race-winning effort of '97 - Firestone's 50th Indy victory. His first experience as a chief mechanic came with Treadway in 2000. Nanny joined Kelley Racing in 2001 before reuniting with several former co-workers at 310 Racing this year.
"We have a core group of guys who work well together and we know what it takes to get the job done," said Nanny.
Unfortunately, the team engineer left 310 Racing after last month's Nazareth race, forcing Nanny to assume many of those duties as the crown jewel of Indy loomed on the horizon. Mack didn't even meet his current engineer, Hayden Burvill, until the close of the second day of practice at the Speedway.
Despite precious little time for his driver to develop a rapport with the new engineer, and with a low budget limiting the team to just one car, Mack followed Nanny's guidance and steadily worked up to qualifying speeds in preparation for the opening weekend of time trials. An attempt in the 225-mph range was waved off on pole day, however, and the team went into scramble mode for the second week. Nanny never panicked and kept massaging his inexperienced driver through the process.
"With George being a rookie, I had to do a lot of coaching and a lot of mental games with him," Nanny admitted. "He had never been in pit lane on pole day, even as a spectator, so that was an all new experience for him. You just kind of prepare him every day for what was going to happen the next day. But the guy has such a fast learning curve. From the first day he sat in the car until now, it's like he's got a year under his belt. He's like a sponge and takes in everything."
The 310 team also benefited from second-week support by its Gasoline Alley neighbor, Ganassi Racing. Team owner Chip Ganassi made his engineering staff available for consults, loaned parts and data, and Ganassi driver Jeff Ward shook down Mack's car and gave the rookie pointers about the nuances of Indy.
"For us being as small of a team as we are, they have treated us with the highest regard," Nanny said.
Renewed, Mack put together a solid effort of 227.150 mph on the final day of qualifications. Mack will start Sunday's race from the middle of row 11, the second African-American to make the show in Indy history.
"We've watched Jamie grow from a young crew member on Arie Luyendyk's 1996 team to a steadying influence as a chief mechanic with 310 Racing," said Page Mader, Firestone Racing General Manager of Race Tire Development who presented Nanny the plaque and check at today's public driver's meeting. "Truly, no one this year at Indianapolis is more reflective of the ideals that spurred creation of the Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award. Firestone Racing is proud to reward Jamie for living up to those ideals."