In-Depth Look: An AT for an Auto Racing Pit Department.
Gene Monahan is the Athletic Trainer for Hendrick Motorsports. His focus is on the Pit Department, where he works with the athletes involved with pitting race cars on race day.
Describe your setting:
My setting is newly created and designed with an athletic training facility in the same structure as the HMS Pit Department gymnasium, locker room and facilities. We have a fully staffed conditioning and strengthening department. Our team works together closely to have our athletes conditioned, prepared and cared for in terms of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries.
As mentioned, the athletic training facility is situated as a private office setting within the building of our newly designed and constructed weight room and conditioning facility. This also extends to an outdoor field facility for practice, conditioning and competitive exercise. We are fully equipped for our needs and supported via physician staffed personnel connected with Ortho Carolina medical services.
I retired from the New York Yankees as head Athletic Trainer in the fall of 2011 after 39 years. I also worked 10 years in the Yankee organization at the minor league level prior to beginning my tenure in New York in 1973 through 2011.
After retiring and moving to Moresville, North Carolina, I was recruited by Hendrick Motorsports. I have always been a stock car racing enthusiast, fan and supporter. This was the main reason I retired to Mooresville. Through a close friend involved in racing, I became acquainted and interviewed with Hendrick Motorsports. They discussed a desire to provide quality care to their pit department athletes and to construct this department in a most professional manner. This developed a strong and meaningful relationship, perfect for everyone. I have been involved and serving in this capacity for 3 years.
Describe your typical day:
A typical day begins around 7:45am. Hendrick Motorsports houses 4 complete racecar teams. In addition, there is an annual developmental class of recruits who join
the organization. There is a total of approximately 65 men. The 48 car and the 88 car practice early in the morning; the 5 car and 24 car personnel, after that. They feature full pit practice and conditioning. These athletes are treated appropriately within the framework of their schedules with the athletic training facility usually cleared at about 1:15pm each day. On Sundays, the teams fly very early to the race site, and I will normally accompany them for the events. I usually attend and work most events in the Southeast and Midwest. We all return post-race and the teams are prepared for evaluation, practice and conditioning early every Monday morning. Racing at the Sprint Cup level, the highest level of stock car racing, begins with the Daytona 500 in mid-February. The season runs each week through early November with the final race of the 36-race points season in Homestead, Florida. They do not race on Easter and usually one or two other weekends only. It is a challenging season for all people in racing. But, it is loved by all!
What do you like about your position?
What I love about my position is simple. I love racing, always have, second only to professional baseball. This position works perfectly for me in retirement. Therefore, I do not actually feel retired at all. This is the perfect job for me at my age and stage, one I cherish and deem essential in maintaining my health, interest, drive and passions. Sharing interactions with the racing community in terms of my learning and appreciating all they do, as well as sharing my lifelong experiences in professional baseball with them, provides extremely rewarding times for all involved. And of course, race day is the ultimate each week – you actually witness the fruits of all the hard work these athletes endure.
What do you dislike about your position?
There is absolutely nothing I dislike about my new position, nor are there negatives of any kind. In retirement, as well as in all of life, if you are not enjoying what you are doing, that is unfortunate. Each day at this relative new venture in athletic training is interesting, enjoyable and rewarding.
My advice to anyone interested in developing an athletic training career in the sport of auto racing is to first be certain you have a passion for the sport. As in any endeavor within our profession, there is a very high level of dedication to the racing world and community. You certainly must possess a passion and true internal love of this sport. Once that is in place, start contacting all forms of racing, at all levels. There are many race teams, and many are now developing programs to enhance the efficiency of their personnel. It is extremely important that a young Athletic Trainer, or any dedicated Athletic Trainer, have a great ability to establish a sound and personable relationship with conditioning personnel who serve crew members and those involved with racing in general. I have learned that athletic training at the racing level dictates that an Athletic Trainer has a sound and appreciable relationship with the strength and conditioning personnel. This only goes to show and prove, I''m constantly learning and developing, even in retirement