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Notes & Quotes: XPEL Grand Prix at Road America

RYAN MARZEC joined AJ Foyt Racing this season as a weekend warrior, working as a mechanic and recently outside rear tire changer on the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevy. Growing up in Libertyville, Ill., Marzec was enthralled with cars at an early age, revealing, "Earlier than I can remember I had to have a toy car with me wherever I went. My parents couldn’t go into a toy store without buying a Hotwheels or Matchbox car. I was identifying makes and models before my second birthday." 


Where did you go to college (degree)?

RM: "I went to college at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography with specializations in Environmental Resource Management, Hydrology, and Weather Forecasting."


What was the first race you attended?

RM: "The first major Motorsport event I attended was when I was two years old. My parents brought me with them to Germany to find and buy a Porsche (because the exchange rates were so good). We ended up at the 1985 Monaco Grand Prix. My dad still has the 911 he bought and shipped back (for $11,000 US). 

Have you ever raced cars yourself?

RM: "My dad got me into karting at a young age.  Due to my father’s workload and my consistent involvement with leagues in other sports, we just did it as a hobby. When we did get on track, we were always competitive. I wasn’t allowed to just be a driver though, he made me learn and help with the maintenance and mechanics right along with him. In high school and college, I did some racing with SCCA, and again, the occurrences were seldom but successful." 

When did you start your career in racing?

RM: "My career in motorsports began in 2006 with Newman/Haas Racing. After graduating college, I was back home working with my father and his Electrical Contracting business when I heard that Newman/Haas (located ten minutes from home) was looking for help. They took a chance on me, taught me so much, and essentially gave me a career."


Please list major series you've worked in (year/series/ team/job)

RM: "I began in the Champ Car series in 2006 with the Lola B02/00. I was mostly shop based my first year at Newman/Haas, absorbing and learning all that I could. In 2007 we changed to the Panoz DP-01, and a “tire guy” position opened up and gave me my first full season on the road. Then in 2008 the two series merged, we changed to the Dallara IR-05, and I was moved to an over the wall mechanic position. In 2011, I was a mechanic with Dale Coyne Racing. In 2012, when the Dallara DW12 was introduced, I joined Dragon Racing. Then in 2013 I left Indycar to be Chief Mechanic on a Riley and Scott Daytona Prototype for Team Sahlen in the Grand-Am series. The following year I joined Fall-Line Motorsports and chiefed cars in a few different series (Continental GS, Lamborghini Super Trofeo, SCCA, NASA). In 2016, I came back to IndyCar, and was a mechanic with Andretti Autosport. In 2019, I moved over to Arrow SPM. And finally, after a couple years hiatus to take care of the kids full time, I joined AJ Foyt Racing this year." 

 What is your most significant achievement to date?

RM: "I have been so fortunate in my career to have worked with so many extremely talented people. I’ve worked with legendary drivers and been to “victory lane” more times than I can recall. My first race over the wall we got Graham Rahal his first win. I was part of three series championship winning teams (two with Sebastian Bourdais). I drank milk at back-to-back Indianapolis 500s (with Rossi and Sato). However, winning the 2019 Pit Stop Competition by beating two Penske crews and Dixon’s crew in the finals has been the personal highlight of my career. Pit stops during a race or during a season are very rarely highlighted, and if they are, it’s usually because a mistake was made and track position was lost. The Pit Stop Competition on Carb Day is the only real chance we have to be highlighted for a skill that we have practiced thousands of times. A skill we analyze and critique and work on improving in-season and off-season.  Being part of an over the wall crew in the IndyCar Series is something I take pride in." 

2019 Pitstop Competition Winners

How did you come to work for AJ Foyt Racing? 

RM: "I came to work at AJ Foyt racing through former colleagues. The motorsports world in the US seems large but it is actually quite niche. If you work hard, show some skill, and try to be a pleasant human, you will develop lasting relationships and people will want you on their team."


What do you enjoy most about working in the INDYCAR Series?

RM: "The thing I enjoy most about working in IndyCar is the competition. The need to be as close to perfection as possible all the time. I appreciate the effort that every person from every team brings to the track every week. We all make the sacrifices and do everything we can to put forth the best chance at victory. I also appreciate the respect and camaraderie that embodies the series. Collectively the competition moves us all forward."

Marzec changes the outside rear on Ferrucci's Chevy.

What are the biggest challenges of working in the INDYCAR Series?

RM: "The biggest challenge… that’s an easy one. Even before having kids, the work load, travel, and schedule of the series took me away from any relationship I had at home. Luckily my wife Madeline stuck it out with me, but when the kids came along, the weight of it all was immense, and I had to pull out and re-evaluate. Thanks to AJ Foyt Racing I have found a resemblance of balance in allowing me to fly-in to races from my home in Wisconsin where my full-time job as “dad” is of significant importance to my young family. I know it comes at a price to my teammates who carry on preparing the cars from the team’s shop, and I’d like to express my gratitude to them for not giving me (too much of) a hard time about it all.  I’m still sacrificing a lot of time away, but my kids know I’m doing what I love and that’s the example I want to set as a father."


What is your favorite track and why?

RM: "Road America is the track I grew up going to. My childhood was filled with Indy cars and GTP cars at Road America. Nearly every year since birth, I have made it to (at least) one event there. Racing karts on the big track as a kid is still among my favorite core memories. Winning there with Sebastian in 2007 is another personal highlight of my life. It’s a special place." 


What interests/hobbies do you have outside of racing?

RM: "Outside of racing I love to travel. I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time traveling around Europe, I hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim, I’ve explored much of Quetico Provincial Park (Canada) by canoe. I sailed the BVI. I love to snowboard, disc golf, camp, fish, climb, hike. I love to play video games with my son. My wife and I do a lot of antique and vintage shopping. I like to tinker and ride vintage motorcycles. In the summer I spend my off days down at the beach on Lake Michigan with the kids. I’m also a huge music lover."

 Hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim!

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?

RM: "I have certainly crossed off some of the items on my professional bucket list, but there are a few more races I would like to compete in:  24 hours of Le Mans, Pikes Peak, Baja 1000. Personal list items include: living in Europe, designing and building my own motorcycle,  earning a license and competing as a driver (in whatever series)." 

What is the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?

RM: "The best advice I ever received wasn’t really words, it was more of a perspective on life that my late brother embodied. I’ve never known a more fun loving, positive, and passionate person. He was happy and magnetic, and through his positivity he inspired so many people to believe in themselves, and push through fear to experience life. There is actually a “Spirit Award” that Kitty Hawk Kites gives every year in his honor.  I try to emulate that perspective because in life there is always something to be cynical about, and pessimism is debilitating.  We don’t and can’t control so many of the things that happen around us, but having confidence that you can adapt and handle whatever comes your way, ensures you say “yes” to experiences and you always move forward in life. I’m not saying I’m always Mr. Happiness, but I do try hard to keep a positive mindset and to impact the people around me in a positive way. If I could borrow song lyrics to put it into words, I would say, “be the vibe you seek, the good vibration”. Inspiring positivity is a legacy we should all strive for."

Ryan with his wife of almost 9 years, Madeline and their 5 1/2 year old son Roman and 1 1/2 year old daughter Luna.


ABC Supply, headquartered in Beloit, Wis., announced $5.2 million has been raised – easily surpassing their $4 million goal – for the nonprofit Homes For Our Troops (HFOT). Partnered with AJ Foyt Racing at the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, ABC Supply matched the first $1 million in donations. HFOT is an organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans, enabling them to rebuild their lives. Since 2004, HFOT has built 380 specially adapted homes. Ninety cents of every dollar HFOT spends goes directly toward the program of building homes for severely injured veterans. It is the third year ABC Supply has championed the month-long fundraiser and donated the design for AJ Foyt Racing’s No. 14 Chevy, driven this year by Santino Ferrucci to eighth place in the Indy 500.


SANTINO FERRUCCI comes to Road America looking for his third straight top-10 finish, having compiled four top-10s in six outings. Last year he qualified 11th and was taken out by another car but came back to finish 16th. He is currently 12th in the standings.


Why are you looking forward to racing at Road America?

SF: "We had a really good attempt last year. we didn't have a great race but I've had fantastic races there in the past. Also, just the track's layout, it's one of my favorite road courses. It's just a lot of fun. It's a great track. It's got a lot of high-speed corners, very flow-ey. It's one of the few tracks that we go to that I think has a little bit of everything. And it also races really well. So I'm a big fan of that."

What is the coolest part of the track?

SF: "I'd say the carousel is probably my favorite. It's just very fun and very high speed."


What is your favorite concession stand food at Road America?

SF: "I'd have to go with the cheese curds."


Coming off two straight top 10 finishes gives the team momentum. Does it bolster your confidence as well?

SF: "Yes I think so. I think it's a big deal to be doing what we're doing and I'm very much looking forward to going back and being there. It ought to be a lot of fun."


What will be the key to success at Road America?

SF: "I think if we just have a clean weekend, kind of like we did in Detroit. We actually had a pretty clean weekend there, we didn't have any issues. We got all our running in and it was rather successful. I think if we do the same thing in Road America we can fight for a top 10 and hopefully a top five."


Ferrucci Fast Facts: Age 26 (as of May 31, 2024)...Born in Woodbury, CT...Lives in Dallas, Texas...Married Renay Moore in January, 2024...Began racing karts at age 5, moved to cars in 2013...Competed in Formula 2000, British Formula 3, GP3 finishing third at Spa Francorchamps as a rookie, was development driver for Haas F1 team for three years (2016-2018), moved to Formula 2 in 2018...made his INDYCAR debut in Detroit in 2018...moved to NTT INDYCAR Series fulltime in 2019 finishing 13th in standings for Dale Coyne and won Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after finishing seventh...13th in standings again with fourth place finish in the 500...drove part-time in 2021-22 but maintained top-10 streak in Indy 500 with finishes of sixth (RLL Racing) and 10th (Dreyer Reinbold Racing)...Scored career-best finish to date with his 3rd place finish in the 2023 Indianapolis 500 to continue his string of consecutive top-10 finishes in the 500...Competed part-time in NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021-22.


STING RAY ROBB continues to find pace in his No. 41 Chevy. He was in the top half of the field when he was taken out by a lapped car in the Detroit Grand Prix. He is looking to capitalize on the new found pace at Road America.


Why are you looking forward to racing at Road America?

SRR: "We have had really good pace at the last two events and I don't see that changing for Road America. There's a lot to love about the track as well. Great passing opportunities and a great circuit make for good racing. It is one of my favorite races on the calendar. The weather is usually amazing and the facility is beautiful." 


What is the most difficult part of the track to get right?

SRR: "It is a very long track so it is difficult to string a full lap together at times without making a mistake. This allows consistency from lap to lap I feel like, but to get ultimate lap pace over the course of one lap is difficult." 


What is your favorite concession stand food at Road America?

SRR: "I LOVE cheese, so have to go with those amazing squeaky cheese curds." 


You were happy with your car in the Detroit GP and Indy, does that mean you and your engineering group have a better understanding of what you want from a car?

SRR: "Yes, I believe so. There have been some changes we have found to be beneficial and we will really get to see the proof this weekend." 


The relationship with started here at Road America. Can you give us the backstory?

SRR: "Love to! The folks at Goodheart, like many of us, are race fans. Back in 2019, they were at Road America enjoying everything the event has to offer, and my name caught their attention. Ironically, it was my last name that captured them more than my first name as Dr. Robb (no relation) founded Goodheart, the veterinary clinics in Denver, Colorado. They have some Scottish heritage as well. They came by our garage when I was driving USFPro2000 and picked up a hero card. On the back we had a note along the lines of, "Join the ride with us!" Since then, they've been on this crazy ride, every step of the way. I have not been to any of their clinics personally but do plan to visit later this year. We know who they are and the personal commitment we see in their character carries into their business, creating a good atmosphere for clients and their pets." 


Sting Ray Fast Facts: Age 22...Grew up in Payette, ID....Lives in Indianapolis...Engaged to Molly Mitchell...Began racing karts at age 5 winning several national titles over the next 10 years. His transition to cars began at the Skip Barber Karts to Cars Shootout where he won the Bryan Herta Scholarship which put him on the Road to Indy and into the NTT INDYCAR Series at age 21. In his rookie season, he scored a career best finish of 12th in the season finale in Monterey, Calif. A devout Christian, Robb will be active as a spokesman for his sponsor this season. Off track, Robb enjoys mountain biking, skiing, hiking, hunting, fishing, rock-climbing, golf, tennis, pickleball and basketball.


Past Performance at Road America: Santino Ferrucci's best finish at Road America is sixth which is where he finished in both races of the track's doubleheaders in 2020. His best start is also sixth (in the first race of the twin bill). In his rookie season last year, Sting Ray Robb drove for Dale Coyne and finished 22nd after starting 25th. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is eighth in 1993 with Robby Gordon, and its best finish is eighth in 1991 with Mike Groff. The team did not compete in IndyCar races at Road America from 1996-2007. In the past eight races, the team’s best finish is 10th with Charlie Kimball in 2020.


The XPEL Grand Prix at Road America will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed on Peacock Sunday afternoon starting at 3:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying and practices will be streamed on Peacock


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