Notes & Quotes: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
Shelby Tracey joined AJ Foyt Racing as a mechanic in January. Born and raised in Monterey, Calif., Shelby grew up at Laguna Seca where his mother was a volunteer on race weekends. He handles the No. 14 car’s bodywork, the vinyl wraps and decals, and assists where needed. On race day, he changes the inside rear tire. We asked him a few questions…
Where were you born and raised?
ST: I was born and raised in Monterey California.
How did you get involved in racing? Where did it start for you?
ST: I grew up in a racing family, cars, 4-wheelers, motorcycles, boats. My mom also volunteered at Laguna Seca Raceway every race weekend, and I was always out there helping or watching racing with my whole family aunts, uncles, my parents, sister and cousins. What really got me into the pro racing category, was that my first boss was into drag racing and he introduced me to some NHRA Pro Stock teams. I started helping out on a couple weekends, and one thing led to another where I was traveling every race weekend.
What is your job and what does it entail?
ST: My Job entails taking care of all the body work on the car--building wings, repairs or updates, vinyl and decals on the car or pit equipment. When I'm caught up with that, I'm a floater mechanic on the car front and/or rear wherever we need help.
What do you do on race day?
ST: Race day I change the inside rear tire on pit stops.
What did you do before joining the Foyt team?
ST: Before working In IndyCar racing, I worked for a NHRA Pro stock team for several years. Then I worked at Chip Ganassi Racing where I got my first race win with TK at California Speedway in Fontana in 2014 and a Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona win in 2015. From there I moved to the Ford Gt GTLM Program, then moved over to Harding Racing last year where I worked with Gabby Chaves, Conor Daly, and Colton Herta. Now I'm here and loving it.
Greatest thrill of your career (to date)?
ST: Greatest thrill in my career was probably winning and getting the first race win for the Ford Gt (pictured above with Ryan Briscoe) at my home track at Laguna Seca Raceway. And also being a part of the winning team at one of the biggest races in the world: the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Tell us something that may surprise people about you.
ST: I left home when I was 18 and lived and have been all around the country following my racing career trying to make a living at doing what I love.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
ST: Every day there are new challenges so it’s hard to pick just one. The AJ Foyt Racing team members are always there to jump right in to help and accomplish whatever comes up and needs to get done.
How do you prepare for a race?
ST: Preparing for a race, I always make sure to get a good night’s sleep, try to stay loose and upbeat throughout the day. As soon as the national anthem is over, I put on my helmet, the game face comes on and I try to pump up everyone on the team for a good race.
What’s your favorite track and why?
ST: I have two: my home track Laguna Seca and Indy. There’s just no other feeling than being on the grid during the pre-race ceremonies and the race at Indy.
Do you have a motto/favorite saying?
ST: Live life to the fullest!
Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
ST: There are so many! I’ve always surrounded myself with positive people from my friends and family to everyone I work with. My Mom and Dad, aunts, uncles, and grandparents have all been there for me and inspired me to keep pushing, follow my dreams and do what I love to do.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of racing?
ST: Spending time with my two dogs, Piston and Oakley, going to the lake with friends, and riding my Harley.
TONY KANAAN on WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca: “I really like Laguna Seca. It’s a track that I had a lot of success at in the past—I won the Indy Lights championship there in ’97 and had my second podium in INDYCAR in ’98 so. The track is very challenging, it has a lot of hills and a lot of blind corners—the ‘Corkscrew’ is extremely famous for that.”
MATHEUS LEIST on WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca: “I’m looking forward to the last round of the season—Laguna Seca. It’s a place that I’ve never been to but I’ll confess that I’ve played a lot of iRacing there and it seems like a pretty cool track. Also Tony really likes that track, he won there in Indy lights and had good runs in INDYCAR so it’s good to have a teammate with a lot of experience at that track. I can lean on him, chat about it and get some tips from him.”
Tony Kanaan Rolls Fast: Kanaan competed in the 2019 Rollfast Gran Fondo World Tour race in Indiana this past Sunday. The 100-mile route around greater Carmel, a northern suburb of Indianapolis, is billed as the fastest Gran Fondo on the 16-event World Tour schedule. A mechanical failure around mile 38 prevented Tony’s bike from shifting gears, but he pulled through and still managed to finish 17th out of 230 entrants and 5th of 29 entrants in the 40/44 age group. He completed the #centuryride in 3 hours, 46 minutes for an average speed of 26.7 mph on his Trek Madone bike, and earned a Grand Fondo Sub4 (under four hours) Belt Buckle.
Tony Kanaan with fellow celebs at the Rollfast Gran Fondo last weekend in Carmel, Ind.
Kanaan will be making his 377th IndyCar start this weekend, which is second only to Mario Andretti’s 407 starts: “It’s pretty remarkable to be honest, I don’t stop to think about it,” Kanaan said of this career stat. “When you start racing, you don’t think about those things but when I look up to one of my racing heroes which is my boss and I pass him on total starts (A.J. Foyt had 369 starts), I don’t even know what to say. I never thought I would top any of his achievements. He raced for so long in so many other things, I think obviously he has done quite a bit more than I did but in IndyCar to be part of a select group like that and have my name around them is pretty cool.”
Last Race: At Portland Raceway, Matheus Leist posted his second top-10 finish of the season. Starting 21st, Leist capitalized on a timely yellow and pitted in the late stages for new Firestones. The fresh rubber helped him vault from tenth to eighth in the closing laps. Teammate Tony Kanaan, who started 19th, finished 12th as the strategy didn’t work as well as planned.
Past Performance at Laguna Seca Raceway: In five races (1998-2002), Tony Kanaan’s best start was 2nd in 1999 and his best finish was third in 1998. In Indy Lights, he won the pole both years (’96 and 97) and won the race in ’96. His 2nd place finish in ’97 garnered the Indy Lights title. Matheus Leist will make his first start at Laguna this year. In eight starts here, the Foyt team’s best start is 11th with Mike Groff who also posted the team’s best finish of eighth, both in 1992.
Texas Time! Texas-born watch company, Jack Mason, announced the launch of their new limited-edition watch to celebrate the legendary race car driver, A.J. Foyt, earlier this week. The A.J. Foyt Limited Edition Chronograph is the second watch in Jack Mason’s Texas Icons Series, and it introduces a new platform of Jack Mason racing watches, the Camber. Available for a limited time while supplies last. For more information, visit jackmasonbrand.com. The Jack Mason logo is featured on the nose of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet this weekend.
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 350 guests.
ABC Supply local account Dynasty Roofing Inc., located in Pleasant Hill, Calif., 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.
The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be televised live on NBC on Sunday, Sept. 22, starting at 2:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be broadcast Saturday on NBC Sports Network from 4:30 – 6:00 PM ET. All of the practices will be available on NBC’s subscription-based service, INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.