Tony Lumbis · Wednesday August 21, 2013
While it’s true that NASCAR racing would not be possible without the fans, drivers, tracks and crews, perhaps the people who are most essential to race weekend are the truck drivers who haul the cars, equipment and food to the tracks every week. In the next installment of “Life at the 55”, the driver of the Aaron’s Dream Machine hauler, Glenn Shano, shares a little bit about his Canadian roots, his typical work week, why the Sonoma trip is his favorite and the special meaning Brian Vickers’ win had to him personally.
My interest in NASCAR stemmed from my father who raced for years up in Canada, where I’m originally from. Friends of his broke into NASCAR, and then he finally did with what was then called ST Motorsports (JTG-Daugherty Racing today). Once he got in, he got my older brother involved as well, who also drives a transporter. My brother started with Melling Racing and eventually got me and my younger brother into it. Now, my younger brother Jeff works for MWR as well and my older brother drives for Penske, so it’s all in the family. We get ribbed quite a bit by people wondering just how many Shanos are there in this sport! Having them around certainly helps with being on the road, although I’d love to have my wife and kids too.
Speaking of my kids, I think the torch passing may end with me in terms of the next generation of truck drivers. I have three girls and two of them aren’t really into NASCAR. My oldest enjoys it, though. She works for Hendrick Motorsports and plans to pursue a PR job in the future – it’s what she wants to go to college for.
While the Canadian Tire Series in my home country offers good racing, it’s not quite the same as what we have here in the states. Canadian NASCAR fans are every bit as passionate as those who are in the U.S. Every track I go to, I see hundreds of license plates from Ontario. They love the sport and I know would love to have a race up there. The trucks will be going north of the border this year, which is great, but I know they would love to have a Sprint Cup race there as well. I know Jeff Gordon is involved with Canadian Motor Speedway so maybe that is a start. I guarantee that if Sprint Cup ever raced up there, it will sell out. They all really love NASCAR, so I think it would be popular and boost the Canadian Tire Series as a result. I think it would be good for our series too; we need to find new venues that would sell out.
Being a truck driver, I have a schedule like no one else on the team. There are two people on each of our trucks. On a typical east coast race week, my partner and I would get Monday off and then we would rotate Tuesday and Wednesday, one guy taking a day each and flipping the schedule the following week. First, we’ll unload the truck when we get back from the race. For example, we got back from Indy at about 3:30 AM and worked for about an hour to unload.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we will clean the entire inside and then load all of the pieces and supplies that we need for the next race. Then we’ll do the grocery shopping, load the food, and we’re on our way by Wednesday night. If we have a longer distance, we’ll head out a little sooner. It really is quite a process that involves several team members. For example, the gear guy will have his parts ready and we’ll go into his room and get the one designated for the 55 car for the upcoming race. Same thing for the brakes and other parts of the car. In the end though, the truck drivers are essentially responsible for ensuring that everything is on that truck for the upcoming race.
Based on that timeline, you can understand how rain delays wreak havoc on our schedule. The truck drivers are the first ones burdened when a race isn’t run on the weekend. We still need about forty-six and a half hours to get our stuff transitioned and then get to the next race. It gets tight on short weeks but we always make it. Here at MWR, our teammates usually come out to help during those weeks, and it always comes together.
Normally we arrive at the track around Thursday morning. Once there, we will get our truck washed by these companies that follow us around on the circuit. There’s about a full day of getting washed and sometimes engaging in fan activities. For example, at Indianapolis, we were involved in a meet and greet downtown. All the haulers parked in rows of two in town and all the people got to come up and talk to us, it was a really great time. If it’s a long distance track, then we have to use that first day to do grocery shopping when we arrive. Then we get checked into the hotel and believe it or not, the most challenging part of the day is getting a rental car because we can’t get our rigs anywhere near the airport to pick them up. So I’m at the mercy of getting a ride or trying to get the rental car delivered to me.
The grocery shopping can take awhile too as it’s like preparing for a family. There is an “A Team” and a “B Team”. The A Team flies in when the garage opens and works on Friday and Saturday. The B team arrives later, as they are the over the wall guys. In total, we need to have food for about 25 people.
It’s a unique schedule but something I just happened to get used to over the years. I’ve always been able to do my shift without any issues. We try to get a little rest on race day since we have to leave that night. Once we get going down the road though, we do our shifts. You don’t ever really sleep because you’re bouncing around, but you rest up for when you’re ready to take on your next shift. I’ll tell you, though, that the next day, I can sleep with no problem!
Believe it or not, my favorite drive, since I love scenery, is going to Sonoma. I try to take advantage of my job and not dread the long journeys. I enjoy going to Sonoma because we run through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Lake Tahoe in northern California and it’s so pretty. I love that type of drive, you only get to see those things once a year with our schedule so I take full advantage of it.
The least favorite is probably New Hampshire because there is so many congested highways up in that section of the country. Dover is one of those routes where I need to leave at a certain time to ensure I get to Washington D.C. around 1 or 2 in the morning, no later than 3 or 4 because we want to hit that city when everyone is still sleeping and not on the roads! Sitting in traffic in a big rig, going through the gears, back down and through them again really wears you out so I try to avoid it as much as possible!
I certainly did not mind the trip back from Loudon last month after Brian’s win. I’m not one of those truckers who likes to run with a CB on because you hear everyone trying to solve the world’s problems and it becomes irritating. But I left it on during that drive and you’d hear people around me saying “that was the winner this weekend” or “there goes the Aaron’s Dream Machine!”. It really takes some of the load off and makes things so much more enjoyable knowing you were the team that won that weekend.
The euphoria did not stop with the drive home as we had a team victory dinner during the week leading up to Indy. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and that was my first victory, so to me, it meant everything. I almost thought we would never see it. I was totally elated when Brian grabbed the win at Loudon. One of the many things I enjoyed about the dinner was celebrating with Brian who is such a good guy and being able to come back from such adversity with his health, was great to see. Having Mark join us with all the crew just was such a good time. Everyone was in good spirits and I really enjoyed it. I’d love to do it again.
I’d like to thank the fans for all your support of Michael Waltrip Racing. I look forward to being a part of many more wins with the 55 team. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for me on the highways!
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