Throughout the next two weeks, members of the reigning Indy 500 champion team, Bryan Herta Autosport, will be blogging here on RACER.com. In our third entry, team manager, Don Lambert, describes the process of organization to fit all the team pieces into the IMS puzzle.
As a team manager, you have to look at the overall picture of what we're trying to accomplish, either at the Indianapolis 500 or any racetrack. At Indy, we start on the little things two to three months ahead of time.
So I get together with a few of the guys from the team and figure out a plan of what we want the garage to look like – banners, kiwi tile, offices, coolers, TVs, refrigerators, a place for the guys to eat, all these little things. As Team Barracuda-BHA, we want to present ourselves well overall so that when somebody comes in our garage they think, “This is really cool” or, “These guys are really professional.”
Coming to the Indy 500 is a process. It's not just showing up, going out and running the car. It's a quest for speed and there are two races here: one for pole position and then the actual race. A lot of times, teams come out and practice, practice, practice just for qualifying. They think that means they'll be good for the race.
I think as a team, we step back just a little bit and we want to have a good race car, and we do everything in our power to make it the best we possibly can. We're not a huge-budget team so a lot of these guys who do have a big budget maybe have a bit more up their sleeve than we can afford right now. But my personal opinion is that it's kind of cool to be a little team because when you beat the big guys, it just makes it that much better!
For my job, I have to keep everybody kind of going in one direction. The truck drivers, the bodywork guy, the chief mechanic, the gearbox guy, the engineers and even the owners – I kind of have to corral everybody and make sure that they're doing what they're supposed to.
At Bryan Herta Autosport, we have a good group of people who have done everything – IndyCar, IRL, CART, Grand-Am, American Le Mans Series, etc. – and they'll just step up and do whatever it takes to get the job done. We try not to work long shifts, but…circumstances sometimes force us to do it anyway and everyone just sucks it up. No one at Bryan Herta Autosport gets aggravated by things like that and I don't hear things like, ‘Man, we're working a lot of hours.' We all know what's ahead of us and we all love to go racing. This is our job and part of it is acceptance that this is not and never will be a 9-to-5 job. Right now it's 8-to-8 and sometimes it's 8-to-1:30 a.m. It just depends what happens.
I kind of have the bird's-eye view of the team and whether it's working on something for the car or a guy has a problem and we need to cover for him, you just never know. And that's the best part about my job: every day I come in, I can be doing something totally new so my ethos is to be prepared for anything.
After winning the Indy 500, we walked in here this year with our heads held high. We know that we have a really good group of people and almost every one of our guys are the same ones who helped to put that winning car together last year. We all felt very proud that our little outfit came in and beat some of these teams spending millions and millions. So now we're focused on coming in and re-proving our worth and our ability to get it done again. And you know what? We believe we can.