ERIC PRENTICE, of Perkiomenville, Pa. spends his race weekends as the outside tire changer on the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet driven by Matheus Leist. The 6’4”, 305 lb. Prentice, who turns 43 in May, gave up his full-time position with Team Penske after 12 years in 2010 to spend more time with his young family. He became a ‘weekend warrior’ in 2011 working with Ganassi Racing, and then worked two years with Sebastien Bourdais at Dragon. A short stint with Dale Coyne followed before joining AJ Foyt Racing in 2016. He was on the No. 14 ABC Supply car until switching to the No. 4 this season. We asked him a few questions…
Q: How did you become interested in racing?
EP: “I used to watch it as a kid with my dad. I was working as a mechanic at a local garage in Hatboro, Pa. when my cousin had started working for Penske Racing in their engine shop. My parents decided to move from Hatboro to Lancaster, Pa. I was 21 and thought what do I want to do? So I asked my cousin for a contact name and sent in my resume to Penske. They called me for an interview and afterwards they hired me to come onto their test team for Andre Ribiero and Al Unser Jr. In 2000, they brought in Helio (Castroneves) and Gil (DeFerran) and I was put on the race crew for Helio.”
Q: How did you become a weekend warrior?
EP: “I thought about it because once people found out I wasn’t working at Penske full-time, I got quite a few phone calls to come in and change the tires. The company I worked for after Penske sponsored Graham Rahal who was running with Ganassi with Service Central sponsorship. I worked for NTB (National Tire & Battery) in the Philadelphia region as a manager. So I called Mike Hull and Scott Harner and that’s how it started. I told them who I worked for (Service Central) and said I’m sure we can work something out, and they said, ‘Absolutely.’ It lasted a year.”
Q: What training do you do to keep in shape?
EP: “Every day, I do simple calisthenics—stretching, sit-ups, push-ups. Three times a week I do a more in-depth workout, free weights, more intense calisthenics, run stairs, do squats, sit-ups and push-ups. No machines, I just use my own body weight.”
Q: When do you practice with the team?
EP: “Whenever I can, it just depends on what the weekend schedules are like and when the pit practices are. Regardless if we have a warm-up or not, every time we go out before the race I do just a handful of static stops to get the rhythm going.”
Q: Can you practice apart from the team?
EP: “For a while I actually had a setup in my garage