CONCORD, NC – This weekend, Brian Whitesell is headed home.
Whitesell, Nos. 5 and 24 team manager, hails from Stuarts Draft, which is located approximately two hours and 30 minutes northeast of Martinsville Speedway. Although he did not visit the famous track as a child, Whitesell had an undeniable passion for racing.
“I always knew I wanted to get into some form of racing and I was not sure what that was going to end up being,” said Whitesell. “I did not realize I could make a career out of it being an engineer.”
In 1987, Whitesell graduated from Virginia Tech with a mechanical engineering degree and at the time there were very few engineers involved in NASCAR. However, in 1993, Whitesell put his technical skills to work when he joined Hendrick Motorsports as a team engineer.
Whitesell enjoyed six years of hands-on engineering with the No. 24 team before stepping in mid-season as crew chief in 1999. His first race as a crew chief was at Martinsville Speedway where he led Jeff Gordon and the No.24 team to Victory Lane.
“Martinsville has become a very special track with all of the Hendrick tradition and winning there in my brief career as a crew chief,” Whitesell said. “It has become a very special place and that's what makes it a lot of fun now going back to every time.”
After the completion of the 1999 season, Whitesell took over as team manager and has been serving in this role ever since. His job entails overseeing the Nos. 5 and 24 teams and handling the logistics of race weekends.
“On race day, I ensure that everything is moving smoothly, the car gets in line for inspection, pit crews arrive on time and pit boxes get set up,” said Whitesell. “I take care of those little details to make sure that everything is where it needs to be to run the whole event.”
While Whitesell admits he enjoyed his role as an engineer in the mid-90s, being a manager gives him great satisfaction.
“I enjoy being a manager now and try to make sure that everybody has the parts and pieces they need so that they can have that same enjoyment that I did of winning races and winning championships,” Whitesell shared.
And after 24 years, the excitement and competitiveness has not faded for Whitesell.
“The competition keeps me here,” he said. “The challenge of this never stops. You never stop learning and you never stop evolving through all of these years, and that’s what I enjoy about it.”