The first pit crew coach in the history of NASCAR
Andy Papathanassiou was the first pit crew coach in the history of NASCAR in Hendrick Motorsports team and now acts as the Director of Human Performance. Through his efforts, he revolutionized NASCAR itself.
Papathanassiou, a son of Greek immigrants, received his Bachelor degree in Economics and his Master’s degree in Sociology and Organizational Behavior at Stanford University. He was a three-sport high school athlete, lettering in football, wrestling and track, and he became the second Bergen athlete to be named first-team All-County in three sports.
After graduating, NASCAR Racing was an industry he wanted to be part of. He starting working in a garage, where he made many contacts and two months later, he moved to Charlotte to pursue his career.
In 1992, Andy Papathanassiou was hired as the first Pit Crew Coach for Hendrick Motorsports racing team. At that time, pit crews were composed of mechanics who devoted little time to practicing pit stops and instead they were relying on their vast knowledge of car building and racing experience.
With his expertise and skills, Papathanassiou changed the pit crew to highly skilled athletes. He employed an athletic mindset which centered on practice and repetition, coaching and review, innovation and process improvement. His work is a huge factor that today’s pits stops, that routinely took 19 to 20 seconds, now take 10 to 12 seconds.
In April of 2006, he was assigned as the Executive Director of North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA), an association that promotes a six billion dollar motorsports industry in North Carolina through events, education, workforce development and business development. His duties were to lead the staff through the daily operations and the execution of NCMA Board objectives. From April of 2012, he is in the Board of Directors.
Today, Andy Papathanassiou is the Director of Human Performance at Hendrick Motorsports. His division employs coaches, trainers, recruiters, rehab therapists, nutritionists, chiropractors and sports psychologist as resources to develop and train the pit crew.
Apart from racing, in 2006, he established the “Over The Wall” Teambuilding. Using pit crew analogies, “Over The Wall” thinking is a breakthrough program that gets people to think like athletes – not in the physical world but in all aspects of daily life. It brings an unparalleled amount of fun and excitement to corporate events delivered through a high energy racing theme.