SONOMA, Calif. - Chip Ganassi Racing is the busiest of all race teams this weekend.
A total of 14 CGR cars and 18 drivers will be entered across six diverse racing series: the Verizon IndyCar Series at Sonoma Raceway, the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series at Chicagoland Speedway, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and Red Bull Global Rallycross in Seattle.
It is the first time that CGR will have all of its operations competing on the same weekend. For a company that competes in four vastly different racing disciplines, it takes a well-coordinated effort to make everything come together. Mike Hull, the team’s managing director, says that the people working in each entity are the key.
“The logistics to be able to run multiple entries in multiple series is all about the people that manage and operate within the sphere of each of these programs,” Hull said. “Each one has to be self-reliant and it’s a matter of having really good people in every position and having the people operate as one group of people.”
Despite the large number of entries across the racing spectrum, the team has the same high-quality standard for excellence across the different series. Hull added that it starts at the top with team owner Chip Ganassi emphasizing a hard-working mindset.
“Chip’s expectation of each person has created the culture that we have across the board,” Hull said. “He expects a lot of himself and in turn expects a lot from each participant. Whether that participant is being at the racetrack and is visible, his or her hands on the product in the building – it’s all persuasions and that is the key element to any business.”
Entering cars in six different racing series may seem like the team is stretching itself thin. Hull finds that it has proved beneficial and the teams can transfer information across the various platforms.
“I think we learn a lot about the people business, No. 1. No. 2, we learn a lot about technology and how it’s used in different applications,” he said. “Believe it or not, all of that technology exercise can be utilized in the other platforms. So each platform learns from each other. That’s probably the largest benefit of doing that.”
The team has already had an impressive season, scoring 10 wins across the disciplines including a monumental class win with the Ford GT at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The most recent CGR victory came with four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon (pictured above with teammate Tony Kanaan) in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen presented by Hitachi on Sept. 4. With six chances on the table this weekend, Hull noted that scoring a win in each would solidify how hard the team works and push it to do better.
“I think every time you win, it validates the work exposure fully to everybody involved,” he said. “It shows everybody in the organization that if you apply not hard work, but hard work that is defined effectively based on priority, you can put yourself in position to win. Then winning comes.
“The momentum of that is what creates multiple winning and multiple championships, but you have to have all of that in place at the beginning to define validity for everybody that participates.”
Dario Franchitti can speak with experience across the team’s racing disciplines. Now a retired driver serving as a driving coach with CGR’s Verizon IndyCar Series program, Franchitti won three of his four Indy car championships and two of his three Indianapolis 500s with Ganassi. He also won sports car races and drove in NASCAR for the team.
“When you look back to where Chip’s business all started back in 1990 with a one-car Indy car operation, it’s very impressive to see the racing empire he’s built,” Franchitti said. “Running 14 cars in six series across the globe doesn’t just happen overnight. You have to have strong partners and first-class team personnel supporting you along the way. Decent drivers don't hurt, either.
“It’s one thing to just field that many cars, but I think Chip would be most proud of the fact that he’s won this season in each of those series. That is no easy feat, by any means.”
Chip Ganassi Racing produced the following infographic summarizing its effort this weekend: