CONCORD, N.C. – The sleek and powerful Hendrick Motorsports machines that roll out of the haulers on race day are custom built with care.
Creation of those cars can be credited, in part, to the fabricators at Hendrick Motorsports.
This week, HendrickMotorsports.com caught up with Michael O’Malley, manager of the Nos. 48 and 88 fabrication shop. O’Malley has been with with organization since October 2015.
Previously, he worked for a different race team and has logged a total of 27 seasons in NASCAR.
Below are five things to know about O’Malley and the fabrication shop:
1) O’Malley manages 17 team members in the Nos. 48 and 88 fabrication shop. They handle the metal work on the cars.
“We get the cars ready when they come from the chassis shop in a bare chassis form to getting those ready to go down to the body plate, when they come back from the body plate we have a list of tasks to do to get them ready for the body shop,” O’Malley said. “After the body shop gets done with them, they come back in here and have a group of guys that work on finishing them, which is put all of the crush panels, windows, what I call the finish metal work on the cars.”
2) The fabrication shop uses different measurement tools to ensure that the cars will meet NASCAR’s specifications.
“We have that template grid -- that is what NASCAR uses when they are at the racetrack,” O’Malley said. “So we have to make sure we comply with that. Then we have a measuring process that has about 250 points on it that we measure. There are 37 points that NASCAR holds us to and they give us a tolerance of where can be.”
3) The cars are constructed differently based on the upcoming racetrack. The biggest differences are between speedway cars and short-track cars.
“Speedway cars are built almost opposite of the way a downforce car is built,” O’Malley shared. “Where we are trying to get all of the downforce we can on the intermediate and short-track cars, it’s the opposite of that -- we are trying to get rid of as much downforce and drag as possible on a speedway car.”
4) Hendrick Motorsports sends a fabricator to the track on race weekends.
“As an organization, we always try to have at least one fabricator at the racetrack,” O’Malley explained. “If we get into the wall or if there is something little that NASCAR does not like, it’s good to have a fabricator there that can take care of those little things.”
5) O’Malley’s favorite part of his job is being a part of the success at Hendrick Motorsports.
“The success and competition that we have at the racetrack are the parts that I like the most, and the ability to see the product that we produce perform the way it’s supposed to on the racetrack,” he said.
He recognizes the team effort that goes into being successful on the track, from driver to fabricator.
“Obviously, it has a lot to do with drivers and the drivers are key in that, but we also have to give them something that they can rely on and we do that on a consistent basis,” O’Malley said. “It’s very satisfying.”
O’Malley enjoys the challenges of his job and constantly has the team on his mind.
“This place keeps me awake at night, and that’s the way I want it," he smiled. “I don’t think I would have it any other way.”