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Chip Ganassi Racing’s ‘human bulldozers’ plow back into shop work

AUTO: SEP 22 IndyCar Series - Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

SALINAS, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: The Chip Ganassi Racing crew look over their car for driver Felix Rosengvist (10) of Sweden the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday, September 22, 2019 at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California. (Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar team went back to work Wednesday at its shop on the northwest side of Indianapolis with a smaller but no less dedicated and passionate group.

Once the logistical and paperwork hurdles were conquered of getting approved by Marion County to reopen its doors in a limited capacity for the first time in nearly two months, the team’s main task became tempering the enthusiasm.

“When you have a room full of Type A personality people, they’re all human bulldozers,” Mike Hull, the team’s managing director, told “What you have to do is smooth out the bulldozing and continually remind them they can accomplish an awful lot, and especially in this case together, to keep us engaged going forward. That’s what we always have done at Chip Ganassi Racing is become a master of the obvious first and go from there.”

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Hull said Ganassi’s IndyCar and NASCAR teams had been meeting regularly for the past month to formulate the plan to restart racing operations in Indiana and Concord, North Carolina, as the easing of Stay At Home Orders continues during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The IndyCar team used a single entrance Wednesday, and each employee underwent a temperature check (“we were fully prepared to send anybody home who didn’t meet that requirement”). The team supplied N95 facemasks and other personal protective equipment, and social distancing of at least 6 feet was in place (measured by the square footage of the building).

Ganassi’s IndyCar operation, which started back several days after the NASCAR team, is working in shifts. Some departments are alternating employees daily while others are working in back-to-back shifts on the same day with a deep cleaning in between.

“I was on the phone this morning at 8:30 with all the managers and engineers in the building this morning, to understand if we had any red flags,” Hull said Wednesday. “So far, so good.

“But we had a preview based on what happened for our people in NASCAR in Concord. So that really gave us a leg up on what to do.”

Hull said an approval document was on file with Marion County via IndyCar administration.

“IndyCar was really helpful with this,” he said.

Ganassi employees were being encouraged to be careful with outside interaction.

“What we then tried to reinforce with all our people is if they have followed the Stay at Home orders that have been requested, today they’re in the best state they can be in for health,” Hull said. “But going forward, once they get out and go to work and might stop at Target or wherever they decide to stop, they might become exposed to other people, and then they’re exposing us to the same thing.

“We’ve asked them to be very vigilant in what they’re doing, so when it comes time for us to tell them to go to the racetrack or come back from the racetrack, we can do the right thing and be socially responsible going forward. We’ve tried to emphasize that with our people so we just haven’t said, ‘Hey, here’s 26 rules, please abide.’ Use some practical sense and help us all get through this now that we have been given the right to go back to work.”