Off-Season Busy at Ed Carpenter Racing, Team Manager Tim Broyles Explains
QUESTION: As team manager, are there specific items or areas you work on right after the racing season, say in October?
BROYLES: We put together a basic schedule of the areas we want to work on during the off-season. The first thing we did is to sit down with each employee and go over any concerns they might have or some new ideas they believe would help the team. We have a performance review with everyone as well as an open dialogue about how to improve the team. At the same time, we are looking at the budgets from the previous year and the 2013 budget. There is a lot of time and thoughts put into the next operating budget. Those are the first things we work towards right out of the box.
QUESTION: How do you deal with each crew member to help improve their performance or might you have to make changes in the off-season?
BROYLES: We are very proud of the group of guys we put together in 2012. We are continuing with that same group this year and work on maintaining that great continuity. We were fortunate to keep everyone from last year and that will make our team stronger for 2013. We were a new team in 2012 and everyone learned how to deal with one another.
QUESTION: Last year, it seemed like more of a scramble to get everyone and all of the equipment together. Will this off-season be more organized for you and the rest of the team?
BROYLES: It’s been more organized in several ways. With the same crew guys, we are in much better shape than last year. We aren’t sitting here trying to figure out each guy’s strengths and weaknesses. We know who we can slide over to help in the fab shop or who can coordinate new pit equipment or other specific items. We weren’t fully staffed last year at this time. We were still hiring people. Last year, there were a lot of unknowns entering the season. We didn’t have a specific testing schedule. It is easier to work this off-season as we have systems in place.
|Ed Carpenter and Tim Broyles at Milwaukee next year|
QUESTION: You have a fitness program with St. Vincent Sports Performance. Is the fitness program helping the team as they prepare for the 2013 season?
BROYLES: We weren’t able to use that program last year due to the new team and all of the items we needed to get ready for the 2012 season. This off-season we were able to hit the gym immediately after the final race at Fontana. We have had the guys working out four days a week as a group with our trainer, Aaron Feldman. And we have everyone working out together including guys who don’t go over the wall on pit stops too. We work on our overall fitness in the off-season. Then, as the season gets closer, we concentrate on certain ideas that help our speed on the stops. The guys know that the fitness program is going to make them better. So they have all jumped in to work hard at St. Vincent. It makes for great team building with everyone in the gym together. During the season, we can’t get in the gym as much as the off-season, but we try to maintain the fitness to keep us strong during the race season.
QUESTION: How do you deal with Ed (Carpenter, team owner and driver) during the off-season? Is he more hands-on in the race shop?
BROYLES: Ed’s position in the off-season is a little different than during the race season. He is wearing different hats this time of year. Obviously, he is involved in the budget. Putting it together, approving the budget. Working with Derrick (Walker, team’s general manager) to making sure we have the proper funds at the right time. He is involved in the development budget, the parts budget as well as his fitness level and workout program. His fitness program is much harder right now than during the season, so that takes some time out of his day too. He is involved in engineering meetings and how we can make the team better on and off the track. If it involves aerodynamic or mechanical development, he is right in the middle of things to help Ed Carpenter Racing. Ed works with Fuzzy’s Vodka on their planning activities and what they might need to improve their racing programs too. We need to help Ed too as he tries to keep his fingers on the pulse of the team’s activities. There is a lot of communication with Ed, Derrick and myself on the events with the team. Whether Ed and/or Derrick are in the race shop, or on the road, there is a constant stream of communication between us. So we have our planning strategies for the year and we continue to map everything out properly. It isn’t always face-to-face communication but by e-mail, texting or phone. But we are always talking.
QUESTION: Is the off-season all about preparation for the race season?
BROYLES: We are working on logistics and possible testing days as well as parts and equipment preparation. We are limited on testing days through the league. There are a lot of other types of testing that isn’t on-track runs. We have a different focus during the off-season than in the season. It is very busy around the shop despite the team not traveling. We get all of the logistics with travel, lodging, uniforms and other items done this time of year, rather than when we are in the week-to-week grind in the season.
QUESTION: How do you handle the bulk of resumes and inquiries for positions at the team?
BROYLES: It is very difficult because we receive so much communication from people looking to join the team. It’s hard to make contact with each person. It’s challenging and we try to answer most of the folks. We can’t always get to them. I feel badly about that too. Because I know many people want to get involved with our team. I would like to answer everyone, whether it’s, “we don’t have a position right now or we’ll keep your information on file for future reference.” We are happy with the guys we have right now and the continuity with the team.
QUESTION: If there is a problem in personnel on the team, do you try to move current people over to another spot or would you bring someone new in immediately?
BROYLES: Each position is a little different. Each requires a little different skill set. So if you have someone who isn’t as strong in a particular area, but they are improving and growing, then you might want to work with them and help them. You hope they grow with the company. Sometimes that works to your advantage to help a current person than bring someone in who is new to the situation. They might not understand how things work with our team, opposed to another team they worked with previously. He might have his way of doing something but it might not be the way we want them to handle it. So a lot of it is chemistry. You see how people mesh with each other and coordinate a plan to get the best out of each person.
QUESTION: How do you and the team feel about winning a race in the first year of the team’s operation?
BROYLES: It was huge for our team. You look at the competition level in the IZOD IndyCar Series. It is so difficult just win in the series. But to win in the first year is unbelievable. We had some guys who had never been to victory lane before, so the Fontana experience was tremendous for them. It raises your expectation for the next season and even the next race. That is our focus right now. How do we improve on last year’s season and try to get back to victory lane again? We were really proud of our car preparation last year with no mechanical problems in the races. We had just one DNF for the season. That was one of the best records in the league. We have had the new car just one year now and we want to work on the reliability of the car. We want to make it better.
QUESTION: What is the toughest part of your job?
BROYLES: That is a hard question. We are like a family here. So a lot of things happen on and off the track with our employees. We had some tough times this year with the crew guys losing some family members during the season and after the season. It is difficult to work through those tragedies sometime. That is very tough to deal with. But then we had some very happy moments with new babies being born to team members including Ed and other events too. It’s not always fun to be in racing. I’ve been in the sport a long time and I have seen a lot of things. But I really enjoy the competition as well as friendship I have gained throughout my career.