CONCORD, N.C. – At any given time, there are approximately 30 race cars in the Nos. 48 and 88 shop at Hendrick Motorsports.
The management of those cars as they go from chassis to race-ready is in the hands of the shop foreman.
This week, we caught up with Nos. 48 and 88 shop foreman Robert Deering to get an inside look at his life and day-to-day duties.
1) Deering became involved in racing at an early age.
“I have been in auto racing since I was 11 or 12 years old, from working across the street with our neighbors and their late-model cars at the local dirt track to when my brother and I owned a team,” Deering said.
Deering grew up in Maine and moved to the Charlotte, North Carolina, area in 1995. He landed a job working in the chassis shop at Hendrick Motorsports that same year.
“My interest has been more chassis than body,” he shared. “My in-laws built their own race cars and raced them, so that’s how I was brought up, self-learned.”
In 1999, Deering moved to the No. 24 shop to work on fabrication and setup. Then in 2006, he transitioned into the role of foreman for what was then the Nos. 24 and 88 shop.
2) Deering’s role as shop foreman involves extensive planning and organization of the race cars.
“There is a lot of scheduling and coordination with the people on the floor that are all of the teammates trying to get these race cars built, put together and set up and ready to load in the trucks,” Deering said. “Roughly, there are 30 race cars at any one time that we are trying to manage, just in the this one building. They are anywhere from brand-new chassis to getting ready to go on the truck and everywhere in between.”
3) To keep things running smoothly, Deering meets with the shop managers on a daily basis in addition to overseeing approximately 65 team members on the shop floor.
“My direct work goes with the fabrication shop, body shop, mechanics and engineering, that’s the bulk of my effort,” he said. “I have correspondence with all of the teammates. It’s important they understand how I think we should do things and they help me figure out if we’re going down a path that’s going to get us in trouble as far as a race car not getting done properly.”
4) One of the most challenging parts of Deering’s job is keeping the race cars on schedule.
“We work on pretty tight time schedules -- in other words we are not in a spot where we can change the leave time of that truck by more than a few hours,” Deering shared. “We run ourselves right up until they very last minute before we load, so making sure we are staying on task is very tough.”
Another challenge is the constant perfection that is required when creating competitive race cars.
“It’s got to be pretty darn close to perfect,” Deering said. “We’re busy trying to figure out how to get race cars ready to go to Daytona already and we feel like we’re behind. Trying to maintain focus on running for a championship and maintain that focus on next year will wear you down in a heartbeat.”
5) Deering appreciates both success on the racetrack and success within the team.
“I would say the most rewarding part is knowing that the race cars are a pretty high quality,” Deering said. “I enjoy when all of the teammates working on the race cars are working well together. Its enjoyable for me to see them work together in pretty good harmony.”