Notes & Quotes: Iowa 300
Andrew Copeland joined AJ Foyt Racing in 2010 as a mechanic. He currently works on the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet driven by Matheus Leist. We asked him a few questions…
Where were you born and raised?
AC: “I was born in New Orleans where my Dad was attending seminary at the time. About a year later, in December 1980, my family moved to Nigeria where my parents served as missionaries. From 1980-1999 I spent most of my childhood growing up in Nigeria and some years in South Carolina, where my parents are from, as we traveled back and forth. Growing up overseas is something I look back at with fond memories. I really enjoyed my childhood and International school. I got to meet and grow up with a lot of special people and see a lot of neat and beautiful places!”
How did you get involved in racing? Where did it start for you?
AC: “In my college years, I started to become more and more interested in Motorsports. Having always liked “hands on” kind of work I did woodworking/cabinetry after college for a few years. Then in 2007, I decided to attend the Jim Russell racing school in Sonoma, California. At 27 years old, I already had some regrets in life, so not wanting to be stuck indoors or in a “cubical office” my whole life I decided to pursue a job in Motorsports.”
What is your job and what does it entail?
AC: “Front end mechanic. I work mostly from the cockpit forward and am responsible for that part of the car.”
What do you do on race day?
AC: “On race day I change the inside rear tire on the 4 car.”
What did you do before joining the Foyt team in 2010?
AC: “After attending the Jim Russell school in 2008, I started helping some race teams part time in 2009. I worked mostly in Pro Mazda but also briefly for an IMSA team as well. The 2010 Indy 500 was when I first started working for AJ Foyt Racing.”
Greatest thrill of your career (to date)?
AC: “Fixing lap 1 crash damage in the 2015 Indy 500 and finishing 13th on the lead lap after starting 24th. We changed the left front toe link and right side mirror and only went a lap down. The TV commentators said we would probably have to come back in to keep adjusting toe to make it right but it was set perfectly beforehand and never needed any tweaking all race long! Winning the 2013 Long Beach GP was also an awesome experience as well!”
Tell us something that may surprise people about you.
AC: “I have an identical twin brother James, as well as an older brother and sister. We’re identical even though he’s 2 inches taller and bigger. When we were inside my mom he was pinching/choking off my food supply, like a kinked garden hose, so he has always been bigger. He likes to say he knew what he was doing. Another interesting tidbit about being a twin is that in southwest Nigeria, where I grew up, the Yoruba people adore twins and have the highest birth rate of twins in the world. Of all the places my parents could have served, we ended up in Yoruba land where my brother and I were “kind of a big deal” and treated like royalty. My Yoruba name is Taiwo, first-born, and James’ is Kehinde, second-born.”
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
AC: “I would say meeting deadlines and making (on track) sessions. Sometimes there’s not much time between sessions and race events so it takes a lot of teamwork and communication to keep everything running smoothly. There are also a lot of details on the car so we have to make sure everything is working optimally and good to go.”
How do you prepare for a race?
AC: “Clean, inspect, service the car and make sure all systems and details are good to go. There are also things to prep and prepare the day before the race to make “race day” go more smoothly.”
What’s your favorite track and why?
AC: “Long Beach. Historic race, downtown setting, nice weather, nice location, and we get to walk to work.”
Do you have a motto/favorite saying?
AC: “There are bigger fish to fry.’ ‘When the rubber meets the road.’ ‘You can’t be too early, but you can always be late.’ I like these because they apply well to Motorsports.”
Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
AC: “My family! The love, support, time, energy, patience my wife, parents, bothers, sister, grandparents have given me and invested in me are super special and have helped me make it in life this far.”
The Copelands (Lto R): Leslie, Aviva, Isabel and Andrew.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of racing?
AC: “Fan of almost any sport. I really enjoy soccer, college football, Motorsports, etc. Like to see people competing and playing sports at the highest level. I’m also a big fan of cycling around town which I used to do more of before “life with kids.” I really enjoy biking around with family and friends checking out the sights and sounds, parks, outdoor events, stopping for a brew or ice cream, etc! “These days I love being with my family which includes, my beautiful wife Leslie, Isabel who is almost 3 and Aviva who will be 1 at the end of July! We spend most of our days hanging out at home but love to get out and about when we can! Isabel and Aviva particularly like the park, playgrounds, pool time, shopping, etc. As with most little ones they are sometimes fascinated by the simplest things in life which is fun to watch.”
TONY KANAAN on Iowa Speed: “Iowa’s always been a good place for me. I had a win
there and it’s one of the tracks that I have the highest average finish, I’ve finished on the podium a lot of times there. It’s a really short oval, I really enjoy it and I’m looking for some redemption after last year. We did a lot of work over the winter to try to make sure that we will be competitive there this year. We’re going to have more power there this year because they (INDYCAR) increased the boost for that type of track so I’m looking forward to it.”
MATHEUS LEIST on Iowa Speedway: “Iowa, it’s a tough place. We struggled there in the
past as a team, but we’ve worked hard through the season trying to improve our baseline for the short ovals. Luckily we have some time on Friday and I know we’ll figure it out and have a decent car for the race on Saturday. I think the Iowa race being a night race now will be more interesting and I think the fans can expect some more entertainment than last year, let’s see how it goes. Looking forward to it.”
Last Race: At Toronto, Kanaan started 22nd and finished 17th while Leist started and finished in 19th. Both drivers were caught up in a first lap multi-car accident, but Leist had to pit for a new front wing/nose assembly and lost a lap in the process.
Past Performance at Iowa Speedway: In 12 races, Kanaan’s best start is second (2015) and best finish is winning in 2010 with Andretti Autosport. TK has led 523 laps and has five podiums: a victory, two seconds and two thirds. Leist won here in Indy Lights in 2017; last year in his first IndyCar race here, he parked it after 40 laps with handling issues. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is 13th with Takuma Sato (2016) and Tony Kanaan (2018), and its best finish is fifth in 2007 with Darren Manning.
ABC Supply is in its 15th season as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s IndyCar team, making it the longest running team sponsor in the NTT IndyCar Series. The company was founded in 1982 by Ken and Diane Hendricks with just three stores. The company now has over 700 stores and topped $10.5 billion in sales in 2018. ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500. The company has leveraged its involvement by entertaining well over 110,000 associates and customers over the past 14 racing seasons. This weekend the company will entertain over 275 guests.
ABC Supply local account All Major Restorations, LLC, located in Des Moines, Iowa, will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Tony Kanaan.
ABC Supply local account Advanced Roofing and Exteriors, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest. The company name will be on the engine cover of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Matheus “Matt” Leist.
The Iowa 300 will be televised live on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, July 20, and starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be broadcast on Friday from 2:00 – 3:30 PM ET. All of the practices will be available on NBC’s subscription-based service, INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.