Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Villopoto debut Title 24 podcast People power: How Arrow McLaren attacked IndyCar hiring challenges to add its third car

NBC Sports premiered the Title 24 podcast featuring 15-time supermotocross champion Ricky Carmichael and nine-time champion Ryan Villopoto. Together, this pair of legends have 24 titles in the Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series, and this total contributed to the title of the podcast.

The podcast can be found on most major podcast clients, on the Motorsports page on You Tube NBC, on, on demand on and on Header 24 of a simple pagewhich includes an episode note for easy navigation.

Some of the themes from the first episode include their reaction to last week’s announcement that Eli Tomac had signed a contract extension to compete in the Full Motocross Championship and the inaugural Super Motocross Championship, last week’s race results and next round announcements.

The two legends also discuss other interesting topics. In Episode 1, they analyze Supercross Futures prospect Duxton Bennick after consecutive wins in the first two races of the series.

“The most frustrating thing for me is Bennick’s confidence in himself and his riding,” Carmichael said at 19 minutes into the video above. “I think he had a legitimate deal with KTM, a longtime commitment, and abandoned what is probably known as the best 250 program in the paddock in a few years and basically bet himself with no deal, from what what I understand, and he laid it in the futures.

Ryan Villopoto spoke about Cooper Webb’s current momentum and how it’s affecting his title hopes.

“I think it will take Coop two or three wins in a row to really ignite this fire,” Villopoto said. It’s not that he didn’t glow. We just saw him win the Triple Crown in Dallas. … Daytona approaches. The chances of beating Eli are here, I’m going to nil if Eli gets a good race, starts well, puts himself in a great position, the chances of beating him will be very hard.

“So I think after Daytona, Koop should look at trying to put himself in a position, get a couple of wins and make that pendulum swing.”

Webb finished first or second in most of the three rounds of the Supercross season.

Bookmark any of the pages above because Carmichael and Villopoto are some of the most accomplished commentators in the sport.

Arrow McLaren IndyCar team hiring started on the 21stst. the social media version of the corporate bounty hunter’s cold call of the century.

Kate Gundlach, performance engineer at Arrow McLaren, was browsing a sports car magazine a couple of years ago when she came across an article about Grace Hackenberg, an Oregon race engineer.

“I texted her on Instagram, ‘Hey I think you’re super cool, you’re really killer and if you ever want to work for IndyCar let me know,'” Gundlach told NBC Sports. “I’ll see what I can do to help you.” She’s like, “Absolutely.” ”

Gundlach passed on Hackenberg’s contact information to Arrow McLaren’s hiring manager, and the match turned out to be perfect.

ST. PIT PRIMER: Schedule, start time and how to watch the opening of the 2023 IndyCar season

At Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix in St. Petersburg, Gundlach and Hackenberg (a damper specialist who also works on pit stops) will begin their third year together in Arrow McLaren’s engineering department as the team enters its most critical season in an attempt to become a perennial championship contender.

“Gracie is a rock star and she can do anything,” Gundlach said. “She is a complete unicorn and very hardworking. And I found her in a magazine and just contacted her.”

As in any industry, networking and recruiting are the cornerstones of motorsports, where success in the big leagues depends on both the driver and the car, as well as the countless people who back the stars and build cars behind the scenes for any IndyCar, NASCAR or Formula 1. .

Performance engineer Keith Gundlach is part of Arrow McLaren’s nearly 20 percent female staff (James Black/Penske Entertainment).

And this is especially true during the season with the kind of expansion Arrow McLaren has taken for the 2023 season.

By adding 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi as a teammate to Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenquist, the team will use three full cars for the first time (and a fourth Indy 500 entry for Tony Kanaan).

Starting last season with 61 employees, Arrow McLaren’s payroll mushroomed in the off-season. By mid-February, the workforce had increased to 94 and is expected to reach at least 100 by the end of March.

Over the past year, the team has received tens of thousands of resumes—sometimes hundreds specifically for an open position—as they transform their staff.

Some of the new faces are at the very top.

Race director Gavin Ward, who oversees day-to-day operations as a direct report to McLaren Racing CEO Zack Brown, began work last July after serving as Joseph Newgarden’s chief engineer at Team Penske.

Arrow McLaren Race Director Gavin Ward

Staffing was a top priority at Arrow McLaren for Ward, who says he was “naive at first about how hard it is to recruit talent in the sport right now. So it was a challenge, but I am very pleased with how we managed to achieve success in a short period of time.

“It was a time of tremendous growth for the team, and most of that growth came towards the end of last season,” Ward told NBC Sports as many of the team’s new members ran past him with fresh details and data during the break. pre-season testing at The Thermal Club in Southern California last month. “And this is in all areas, both commercial and operational. Obviously, we are very pleased with what we have been able to bring together in hiring talented people at a time when talent is in short supply.

“We have an ethos that we don’t necessarily want to do things the way they’ve always been done in the IndyCar world. We want to bring out the best in the world of motor racing and beyond. Whether it’s capturing a cool mechanic from World of Outlaws and introducing him to IndyCar. We’ve done a little of that. We pulled the #1 mechanic from F1. In addition, we have really experienced guys from other IndyCar teams.”

The team was also aggressive outside of racing. The new hires come from Fortune 500 companies, big brands and other professional athletes – an eclectic list of former employers that includes Disney, SalesForce, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Rays, Republic Airways and Boeing Defense, Space & Security (to name but a few). of them). ).

While building a broad hiring network is in line with McLaren’s progressive vision, Ward said it was also necessary because “certainly the whole paddock was fighting to recruit the best people.”

With sponsorship dollars on the rise at IndyCar in general, and manufacturer money pouring into competing series like IMSA and F1, it has probably never been more difficult to hire employees in US motorsports.

Pato O’Ward has four wins, 13 podiums and two top-five points in the last three seasons (Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment).

As in the US business world after the 2020-2021 Great Retirement, one of the biggest narratives in the race has been the difficulty of hiring and retaining strong staff since the COVID-19 pandemic upended the global workforce.

“It’s definitely not a rumor,” said O’Ward, who is starting his fourth season driving the No. 5 McLaren Dallara-Chevrolet. “I feel like it was so hard to find people in all departments. From conversations not only with people from our team, but also with other drivers and friends, they say: “Dude, it’s hard to find people.”

“I trust the team. A group of responsible people that joins the team, I think they know exactly what we need and I believe that they will make the right decisions. To be honest, there was already so much talent in the group and I feel like a lot more has been added that will just help us really achieve what we want.”

Jody Scott, McLaren’s chief of staff, who joined the team a year ago from Anthem, Inc. (now Elevance Health), said there was no hiring target outside of motorsports.

“Our leadership team was just looking for the best,” Scott, who also worked at Stanley Black & Decker, told NBC Sports. “But we’re also pretty realistic in that you can’t rob Peter to pay Paul, so we won’t always be able to hire employees from motorsport and especially from other IndyCar teams. So we’re just thinking strategically about how we can find candidates with applicable skills outside of our industry, if possible. I think it also helps diversify…


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