Mark Sampson, (above right), joined AJ Foyt Racing in 2018, becoming crew chief of Tony Kanaan's car this year. We asked him a few questions...
Q: How did you get involved in racing?
“My father worked at General Motors and my brothers had muscle cars so I was always interested in cars. I went to vocational school to learn about machine work and after I worked in a Speed shop building engines. The owner Ray Smith ran Sprint cars and I got involved with helping him out on the weekends. I started in IndyCar racing in 1996.”
Q: What does your job as a crew chief entail?
“I ensure the car is built to the engineers’ exacting specifications. I organize parts, track mileage, and try to guide the mechanics in a positive direction.”
Q: What do you do on race day?
“I have a titanium Humerus (upper arm bone) so my pit stop days are over. I crashed my dirt bike in 2005 and smashed my shoulder—it took six months of rehab. I used to do the air jack but now I feed the front tire to the changer.”
Q: How long have you been a crew chief (in your career)?
Q: What does it take to be a crew chief?
“Patience and Organization.”
Q: Greatest thrill of your career (to date)?
“Winning the 2008 Indy 500.”
Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
“Managing the people and time you have to get the jobs done.”
Q: How do you prepare for a race?
“I have a Race Prep list of jobs that need to be done before we race. I look over the car before it leaves the garage.”
Q: What’s your favorite track and why?
“Indy because of the speed and history.”
Q: Do you look forward to the month of May? What’s your favorite and least favorite part?
“Yes, my favorite part is Race day because of the atmosphere and the least favorite is the GP. I think the GP should be the last race of the season.”
Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
Q: Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of racing?
“Driving my Chevelle.”