VINCE BASS joined AJ Foyt Racing in January 2017 as a mechanic. His career started at Skip Barber Racing School in Sebring, Fla. over 25 years ago. Granted a 3-week hiatus this summer from the No. 14 race team, he took a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to South Africa. On Sept. 20-22, he returns to his favorite track--WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca as INDYCAR closes out its season. We asked him a few questions...
Where were you born and raised?
VB: I was born in Georgia, raised in Bridgeville, Del. and Sebring, Fla.
How did you get involved in racing? Where/when did it start for you?
VB: I started out working for Skip Barber Racing School back in 1993 in Sebring, Florida. A few years after that I got involved in IndyCar racing then known as CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) just after the split. After that, I got into endurance racing on the ALMS circuit and continued on with this until 2012. Then my wife Ruth and I decided to move back to Indy at which time I got a job back in IndyCar racing.
What is your job and what does it entail?
VB: I am one of the rear mechanics on the car, which means we are responsible for anything from the roll hoop back. When we are at the shop I handle fuel cell and engine maintenance; my colleague Doug Barnes handles the suspension and geometry changes. When we are at the track, I work on one side of the car and Doug will work on the other side of the car. In the off-season, I am responsible for doing the body fits on the cars and any chassis modifications for the next year.
What do you do on race day?
VB: Air jack and assist with the outside tire.
Vince Bass (at rear of car) watches as Kyle Sagan works on removing rear tire during a pit stop.
What did you do before joining the Foyt team?
VB: I ran an Indy Lights car.
Greatest thrill of your career (to date)?
VB: Driving a Ferrari 430 on track at Long Beach. Allow me to explain… at the end of each session the mechanics had to drive the cars back to the paddock area, on this particular day we had no one guiding us in, so we had to go on our own and everyone went a little faster than they probably should’ve!
Tell us something that may surprise people about you.
VB: I’ve been told that I have an aggressive personality, I think most people that know me would actually be surprised that I have a gentle side, but my wife and my kids are the only ones that see that!
Vince and his wife Ruth at Victoria Falls during their recent trip to Africa.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
VB: Time management, time is something we never seem to have enough of.
How do you prepare for a race?
VB: Nothing special really, I find some guys get themselves too pumped up and excited and when you do that, you lose focus and your decision-making skills go right out the window, so I try not to make a big deal out of it. Don’t get me wrong, this is my job and I enjoy it, but the important thing to remember is that it IS my job and to do my best, I need stay focused on the task at hand.
What’s your favorite track and why?
VB: Laguna Seca (aka WeatherTech Raceway in Monterey, California). I’ve always had success there when running in sports cars and I love the weather and the elevation changes of this particular track, not to mention that it is beautiful there.
Do you have a motto/favorite saying?
VB: My exact motto I cannot say because there is rough language involved, but I can break it down for you. My polite way of saying it is “OBSERVE RULE NUMBER ONE” and that rule is you have to care about what you’re going to do before you do it. If you do not care about the task put before you, please step aside and let someone else do it. The actual motto is “YOU HAVE TO GIVE A (fill in the blank)”
Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
VB: My father was a big influence to me because he taught me the basic mechanical skills which allow me to do what I am doing today and I am grateful for that.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of racing?
VB: I enjoy building things out of wood.
What is your most memorable experience outside of racing?
VB: Oh that’s easy, my trip to South Africa. I spent three weeks with my family there and it was absolutely beautiful. The most exciting part of my trip was being able to witness three lions battling and feasting on an impala, then the hyenas came in and took what was left. All of this was less than 30 feet away!