Path To GRC 2013: Q&A With Joey Mancari, Director of Competition

Written by Chris Leone. Posted in Breaking News, Features, News

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Published on March 14, 2013 with No Comments

As the Global Rallycross Championship prepares for what should be a spectacular 2013 season, there’s still plenty of work to do in series headquarters. One of the new additions to GRC staff for 2013 is Joey Mancari, who comes to the sport with nearly three decades of professional motorsports experience.

Mancari will serve as GRC’s director of competition in 2013, taking on a host of responsibilities both at the track and away from it. As we prepare for the season launch, he was happy to sit down and tell us about his role in the sport, and what to expect this season.

First things first—tell us a little about yourself, your racing background, and what led you to join GRC.

I’ve been involved in motorsports almost my whole life. I started out at a local short track in Las Vegas when I was 10 years old taking tickets. Then I went to work at Las Vegas Motor Speedway—I actually worked on the property there, and then worked at the speedway as the director of operations from 1996 to 2001. Then I left and went to work with NASCAR in the developmental series department. I worked for NASCAR for around 10 years before I came to work for GRC.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities as Director of Competition, and what have you been working on so far?

My day-to-day responsibilities are the rules and interfacing with our race teams and our partners. Also safety—not just car safety or driver safety, but also track safety. I help a little bit with course design and barrier placement, things of that nature. Since I came to work here at the end of January, I’ve been basically jumping in with both feet on track design for the upcoming events, the rules package for 2013 for the cars and competitors, and just answering questions, doing a lot of introductions and meeting a lot of new and interesting people.

Have you been drafting a completely new series rulebook for this year? Have there been any major changes made?

No, no big changes. The only changes are a couple of safety initiatives that we’re going forward with, but nothing major. One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve adopted a full-face helmet with a polycarbonate shield, that’s probably the biggest change from a safety standpoint. But as far as car construction or anything like that, we haven’t adopted any big changes in the rules.

There are some changes in the ground rules and the way we’ll run some of the events, and we’ll roll that stuff out in the coming weeks. And with our program being part of SCCA Pro Racing now, and recognized on the FIA International Events Calendar, we’ve also had to work closely with the FIA to make sure that everything we do within the rules, and that we do from a competition standpoint, meets with their approval.

Was working with the FIA ever a concern for you while you were working in NASCAR?

On the touring level, since those series weren’t recognized on the international calendar, so there was a lot more interaction on the national series level with the FIA. However, there was still language in the touring series rulebook that discussed the FIA and being a member, and being an ACCUS member. I actually met (ACCUS president) Nick Craw at one of our races at Colorado National Speedway a couple of years ago. So while I didn’t have as much interaction with FIA guidelines as I do now, I was aware of them.

Is track design something where you’ve been watching some of the series races last year and trying to pick up on issues? If so, what have been some of the more important things to keep in mind? 

Honestly, I’ve been following the lead of some of the great people that were already here. I look at it from a secondary standpoint, take a 10,000 foot overview of it and say maybe we need to hold this turn in a little bit, or we need to make sure we have the best barrier placement, things of that nature. I’m looking at it more from above the scene, looking at the overall picture from a safety aspect.

But also you have to say, that turn might be a little bit too tight, or for our first turn coming off of the start we might want to have a little bit broader of a turn—we don’t want to pinch anybody off. I sat down and watched all of X Games from LA last year, and one of the things that I noticed was that while the first turn was fairly broad, it lent itself to people really having a hard time navigating that turn and not losing a car in the first corner. And you hate to do that. You hate to have the possibility of the green light coming on, and into the first corner, first obstacle of the course, that’s the end of the day for somebody.

What are your responsibilities on race day? Are you going to be in race control?

Any on-track activity, I’ll be in race control. But before any of that happens, I still have to oversee scrutineering, all of those aspects pre-event and post-event. Also I’ll help with facilitating everything that has to go from a competition standpoint, including safety and safety teams, meetings with them, meetings with our competitors, any of the staff at the local racetracks and venues that we go to. Anything on the competition side of things falls under my jurisdiction, and I have to address that.

Once we get a couple more people in place, we can delegate a few of those positions, but for now we’re going to be pretty lean and mean and wear a lot of hats. It’s no different than the type of format or positioning that I had within NASCAR. The day-to-day operation of the K&N Series was pretty much all mine, even from a marketing standpoint where banners went around the racetrack, was some of the stuff I handled.

For fans who watched the series last year, what are some of the more important things that you want them to keep in mind about this year?

(With) one of the race procedure changes that we’ll adopt, I think it’s going to make it so everybody understands and appreciates it a little bit more, and we’re going to make the racing a little bit better and more interesting. But I’m hoping that they don’t see a lot of changes. I’m hoping that it’s the product they’ve come to love over the past couple of years, and that they stay with it. The last thing that I want to do is give GRC another series’ feel, because that’s not where we need to position ourselves. We have a product that is so relatable and so interesting, and you’re fully engaged and fully part of it.

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