CONCORD, N.C. - At every race during the NASCAR Cup Series season, you can find one Hendrick Motorsports fire suit that stands out among the rest on pit road.
Sporting the traditional Hendrick Motorsports colors of red and black is the lead engine tuner, Bobby Dell. Entering his 11th season for the team, Dell represents the entire engine shop as he travels with Hendrick Motorsports throughout the Cup Series season and ensures that each engine is operating at peak performance.
Since 2003, Dell has been a part of the Cup Series garage. He joined Hendrick Motorsports’ engine department in 2013. However, his time spent in the sport dates back much longer than that. As a child, his father worked in the engine shop, laying down the roots for his son to one day step into his role. While Dell spent time racing growing up, it was always the mechanical side of racing that drew him to Hendrick Motorsports.
“We moved up to North Carolina in 1990. My dad worked here at Hendrick Motorsports in the early 90’s and I followed him to work until, well, still,” Dell said. “I grew up running engines. I’ve been working on engines and cars my whole life. I drove some go karts, but I was always most interested in working on it.”
Throughout the year, the role of the lead engine tuner can vary dramatically and requires adaptability. In the preseason months, the engine shop’s main focus is preparation for the upcoming season. This mostly includes the mass production of engines in order to get a head start when the season rolls around.
As the campaign begins, Dell works at the shop with each team’s engine tuner to make sure their piece is race ready. All four teams have a dedicated tuner that is responsible for engine maintenance. This relationship between Dell and the tuners is key as the group will work together on the road at each event. In the Cup Series, it’s results that matter in the long term.
“Basically, you get a report card every week,” Dell said. “You go to the racetrack and your hard work is graded in one way or another. It’s kind of addicting that way.”
When the race begins, the role of lead engine tuner changes once again. In the case that an engine suffers a mechanical issue during the event, Dell is often called into action and will even go over the wall during a pit stop if needed. While the issue may not be apparent to those watching from home, it’s up to Dell and the team he is working with to diagnose the problem and quickly fix it if possible.
“At this point in my career, years of experience, troubleshooting and diagnosing have made it easier,” Dell said. “It’s a pressure-packed situation. You’ve got to be able to slow things down in your mind, process, then react. It happens so fast when you have to go over the wall. Everything is so accelerated. You have to be able to think clearly and act quickly.”
Through the hard work of the entire engine shop, the team is getting ready to make a run at a 15th NASCAR Cup Series championship. Catch the entire Hendrick Motorsports quartet for the first time in 2023 at the Clash at the Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN Radio, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.