CONCORD, N.C. - There’s a saying in professional sports that talent rises to the top. In a sense, the saying maintains that the most talented will find themselves at the pinnacle of their respective sport and professions. Around the Hendrick Motorsports shop, this mantra rings true in many forms. One story that stands out is the engine tuner for the No. 24 RaptorTough.com team, Ben Proctor. Since 2019, he’s worked with William Byron to help the team reach victory lane.
Proctor's journey began with Hendrick Automotive Group in 2006 in the quick lube department before moving into the shop as a mechanic. From that role, he took an interest in the engines specifically during his time fixing customer’s vehicles. While he was responsible for several different roles as a mechanic, it was this passion for engines that would eventually lead him into the NASCAR Cup Series garage.
"I was the kid, much to my parent’s chagrin, that would take anything apart," Proctor said. "Whether it was working or not, I wanted to know how something worked no matter what it was. Any button or switch, I had to push it, I had to figure it out. I’ve always been that way. I want to be able to look at something and know front-to-back how it works and be able to take it apart and put it back together or fix it if it’s broken.
"When I got to work on the engines, that was always the thing that was most fun to me. All the other stuff, you just had to do that. When I got to build an engine or work on an engine, that did it for me."
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After nine years of working as a mechanic, Proctor earned the rank of Hendrick Certified Master Technician. This allowed him to compete for a highly coveted spot in the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown, an annual competition that pairs engine builders from Hendrick Motorsports with 12 Hendrick Certified Master Technicians from Hendrick Automotive Group's many locations across the country. These technicians are selected through a rigorous 100-question test designed to distinguish the most talent among the company. In 2015’s event, Proctor qualified with the highest score on the exam and went on to win the event paired with longtime engine assembler Danny Emerick. This performance put the Lakeland, Florida, native on Hendrick Motorsports’ radar.
With his victory at the engine builder showdown in mind, Jeff Andrews, (who is now the president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports) called Proctor to offer him a job with the company. In 2017, the newly hired engine tuner worked with a Hendrick Motorsports engine in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series for four races before switching over to Michael Annett’s No. 5 entry with JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series to finish the year. After a full season with Annett in 2018, Chad Knaus, (who was then the crew chief of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports entry and is now the vice president of competition) asked Proctor to be the engine tuner for his team ahead of the 2019 campaign. He has remained in the role ever since.
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"I always tell people that when I was an 18-year-old kid changing engine oil in a dealership that I would know be the engine tuner on the No. 24 car. You have to take a step back and look at that," Proctor said. "When you take a step back and look at what we get paid to do, we’re all very fortunate. Mr. H (Hendrick) has been signing my paychecks since I was 18 and that’s a stat I want to keep going as long as possible."
Despite the change in direction for his career, Proctor sees great joy in watching his work compete on the track. While he may not be behind the wheel, his competitiveness and passion for cars is brought together in his role with the team. All of Byron’s six Cup Series victories have come with Proctor on the roster.
"With motor sports, the reward that you get to see is that product on track. You know you touched so many areas of that car that is crucial to its performance. To see it out there cutting laps on Sunday, and if everything goes right, winning, there’s no better feeling to me," Proctor said. "To me, racing combines my two favorite things: Competition and cars. I’m a competitive person by nature. Everything I do, I try to do it to the best of my ability, but with cars, I’ve always been drawn to knowing how everything works. Knowing and doing it at the highest level is pretty rewarding."
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