Techniques Magazine Techniques January 2011 : Page 14

Q & A An Interview with IndyCar Veteran and Panther Racing CEO John Barnes barnes speaks to ACTE about his rise to IndyCar fame, his Panther Education Center program to help young people develop hands-on skills, and his work with the u.S. Army to help injured veterans. sponsors to support your endeavors, then purchasing the equipment, all the stuff it takes to go racing, the logistics of moving the team and personnel from city to city, the hospitality piece that we do. We feed more than 400 to 500 people per weekend in our infield training unit. And then the engineering side of it is huge as well, where we look at every aspect of the car and the parts that we are able to change because of the rules’ flexibility. And we have to look at the engineer-ing standpoint to see what we can do to make them [the cars] better, both from a mechanical and aerodynamical stand-point. Then you’ve got the mechanics on board to actually put the cars together and service the cars on the race weekend. Every piece, from physics to engineering to athletes to changing the tires on pit road to people who write and disseminate marketing ideas—it’s a community in itself. ACTE: So what do you do to expose students to these potential careers and perhaps keep them engaged in their schooling? JB: We try to do that with a program we started here called Panther Education Center. I understand, as an employer, what a terrible problem this country has with education. Very, very little of the education over the last 15 years is relevant to the kids that we have now today. The kids are so bright, they’re so technically savvy, and we have to find ways to engage them and get them a more hands-on educational program instead of just chalk and talk. We put a program together here www.acteonline.org PHOTO COURTESy OF BENITO SANTOS/PANTHER RACING ACTE: Mr. Barnes, you worked your way up to CEO and co‑owner through serving in a variety of roles as a gopher, mechanic, car builder. How has this approach worked for you? JB: I have been very blessed to have had a tremendous amount of training, from the grassroots side, all the way up to where I am today. And I have had a great opportunity to work for and side-by-side with great leaders and incredible businessmen. And so I have tried to get as much osmosis of that as possible, to take their best traits and blend it into what I do today. When I started in IndyCar racing I was 16 years old, and there wasn’t much that I was capable of doing, other than polishing something or washing some-thing. But I had a tremendous appetite to learn and to better myself, and I saw the career that I wanted to pursue. ACTE: What are the prospective careers in racing for young people, beyond driver? JB: Most people see motorsport as being about the driver or the rider. It has very little to do with that. I mean, that’s the end result. But it starts out with a business plan, with marketing and finding 14 Techniques JANUAR Y 2011

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