AJ Foyt Racing has been a pioneer of working remotely long before many other businesses had to adopt the practice because of the COVID 19 pandemic. With one team based in the original shop in Waller, Texas, and another shop located on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES team has met the challenge of working from two different race shops, separated by 1,050 miles.
The team uses cloud-based technology that is updated in real time and is accessible to any team member. That has created a successful technological bridge of information between the No. 14 team based in Texas and the No. 4 operation based in Indianapolis.
There are also live cameras that connect conference rooms at both shops, so if a crew member in Texas needs to ask the Indiana team a question, they simply hop on Zoom to exchange information.
“We were used to Zoom long before everyone had to use Zoom to communicate,” AJ Foyt Racing President Larry Foyt said. “When Takuma Sato was here from (2013-16), lead engineer Don Halliday was working out of Ohio, so we had instances where our lead engineer wasn’t shop-based every day. We were used to the Zoom meetings and being in touch that way. We also have the cloud-based storage where everybody has access, and it gets updated in real time. That prepared us better for the shutdown during the pandemic.”
It also has prepared the team to get ready for the 2021 season.
The engineering department and the No. 4 Chevrolet team work out of the Indiana shop, a 15,000 square-foot facility just a few blocks from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Scott Harner, AJ Foyt Racing vice president of operations, works from that shop.
The Texas shop is home base for Foyt, the accounting department and the No. 4 car crew. That shop is 25,000 square feet.
“The one thing that helps from my side is all of engineering is in Indianapolis,” Harner said. “That is good having everybody together because this is engineer-driven during the offseason outside of the pit equipment, transporter update and repairs, maintenance and that stuff.”
The team works on a winter project list. Recently, a transporter left the shop near Houston for Indianapolis to bring the timing stand and other electronic equipment so the engineers can update the systems. Equipment will be transported between the two facilities twice during the offseason.
“I’m a firm believer the engineers have to set the tone for what we are doing here,” Harner said. “They need to set the direction, be on top of what we are doing, try to make the cars better and make them the same. It’s difficult for the engineers from time to time. What we are starting to do this offseason is put more processes in place to make sure everything is standardized. If you don’t have the processes, you don’t know whether you are doing it right or not, so that is one thing we have been working on these last few weeks.”
The offseason is a very important time for NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams. It’s when a foundation is created for what is hoped to be a successful future. Although having one team split in two separated by 1,050 miles may seem inconvenient, AJ Foyt Racing has forged through.
“We’ve been doing this a while now,” Larry Foyt said. “It’s not too crazy for us. It’s not as difficult as it seems. The challenge comes in season. You have to make sure everybody is communicating to make sure everything we need is on the trucks.
“Having Scott Harner in Indianapolis is super helpful. For me, it isn’t as difficult as it seems on the outside. There are things that might be time consuming, but Scott does a good job staying on top of that. There are a lot of guys in Texas with a ton of history, so it all works out well.”