CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 7, 2000) - Terry Satchell, the engineer at Andy Petree Racing(APR), has lived the majority of his life in "the automotive state." >From the day he was born, he has felt the need to learn more about the principles of ...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 7, 2000) - Terry Satchell, the engineer at Andy Petree Racing(APR), has lived the majority of his life in "the automotive state." >From the day he was born, he has felt the need to learn more about the principles of mechanics and how they apply to race cars. That need, which originally started out as a hobby for the native of Saginaw, Mich., has turned into a successful motorsports career.
"I love working on the technical problems that NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing presents to teams," said Satchell. "I enjoy applying the laws of science and watching race cars carry out those laws on the race track. Mother Nature has all these rules, and I spend my time bending them so our race cars can go faster. That's what I like most about this sport."
As the engineer for APR, Satchell is just like any other person who spends his or her weekend in the garage working on their car â€¦ only he gets paid for it. It's his responsibility to coordinate and facilitate the transfer of information between the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet team of Kenny Wallace, and the Oakwood Homes team of Joe Nemechek. This week, his two Winston Cup teams prepare for Sunday's Kmart 400 in Brooklyn, Mich., and as he returns to the state that he has called home all his life, Satchell is looking for a strong performance.
"I was born and raised in Michigan, so this is a special week for me," said the 54-year-old Satchell. "I lived in Michigan most of my life. When it was time to choose a college, I stayed in state and went to Michigan State in East Lansing because Michigan is my home. This week, I'm looking forward to seeing my family and what has changed in the old neighborhood. My son, Mathew, is a 24-year old engineer for General Motors and a Michigan State grad, while my daughter, Lindsay, is a 21-year-old senior art major at Kudztown University. They're staying in Michigan for the summer, so I know they'll be watching on Sunday."
If team owner Andy Petree has any questions about Michigan Speedway, he has an expert in Satchell. The APR engineer grew up around the two-mile oval, and personally knows the track inside and out.
"Over the years, I lived in Troy and Rochester, Mich.," said Satchell. "I use to compete in amateur races at Michigan Speedway, I have helped others race there, and I even remember the old road races out behind the Speedway. I got to see some big-time professional competition there.
"It's a big deal when NASCAR comes to the state," continued Satchell. "While there is a lot of oval track racing in the state of Michigan, there aren't too many tracks of that size nearby, so the speedway draws people from a large area of the Midwest. If you're in the South, you have many tracks and dates to choose from. You don't have as many options up North. So when NASCAR does go up there, people make a big deal about it. They may throw an extra slice of cheese on their burger."
As the years go by, the demand for Winston Cup teams to keep up with technology increases. The difference between sitting on the pole and failing to qualify for a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race is often decided by thousandths of a second. Increased competition has made the margin for error in Winston Cup racing virtually non-existent. Teams are looking for that elusive edge over their counterparts, and Satchell is the engineer that executes the finite adjustments on the fleet of Chevrolets for APR.
"We're looking for trends," said Satchell. "We are looking for tiny, tiny improvements because the competition is so tough in Winston Cup that a half of a percent is big. I consider myself a technician. Everything I do has a mathematical influence to it. I'm very practical. Andy, on the other hand, comes up with these crazy ideas for our race cars, and it's my job to apply science. I tell him why or why not his idea will work."
Satchell says that he and Andy work well together because they see things from different sides of the spectrum. He believes that different viewpoints broaden the team's line of thinking. In a sense, Satchell is like the legal department at APR; the team comes to him with ideas on how to make a race car go faster and he tells them if the laws of science will let it work.
With such an eclectic racing resume that already includes 22 years working for General Motors, three years with Penske Racing and three years of Winston Cup service at APR, Satchell is perfectly suited for his role of engineer at Petree's multi-car team. His experience makes him a priceless confidant for Petree as APR moves into the new age of Winston Cup racing.
"Terry is invaluable to our racing success," said Petree. "We're a technical race team, and without Terry, we would be years behind schedule. The more complicated and technical race cars get, the more we need someone like Terry to help us out. Terry's role is so important to APR, that we're actually looking to increase our engineering department and give him some manpower to work with."
As APR grows in the 21st century, Petree leans more and more on Satchell's expertise. If Andy is forced to increase the engineering department to handle the demanding needs of NASCAR competition, and the odds are he will, Petree might want to look north for some potential candidates.
Square D is the flagship brand of the North American Division of Schneider Electric, and is a market-leading brand of electrical distribution, industrial control and automation products, systems and services. Schneider Electric, headquartered in Paris, France, is a global electrical industry leader with 1999 sales of approximately $8.9 billion.