Ford NASCAR Spotlight: The King’s Other Driver

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Glenn Shano Richard Petty Motorsports Nascar Semi DriverGlenn Shano is not famous, although he is a celebrity of sorts. If you met Glenn on the street it is unlikely you would recognize him, but when he is at work everyone knows Glenn. When Glenn is on the job people drive by, wave and honk their horn. Glenn is better known for what he does, then who he is. That’s not to say that Glenn doesn’t have his own personal story and we wanted to hear him tell it. Glen is associated with the world of NASCAR, that in itself does not make him a celebrity, thousands of people work behind the scenes to make the business of stock car racing run.

Glen works for Richard Petty Motorsports as a driver. Although he does not wear a fire-suit like Aric Almirola, Glenn drives more miles each year than Aric does in practice, qualifying and racing over the course of the Sprint Cup season. In fact, Aric wouldn’t be able to race if Glenn did not get his car to the track. Glenn drives the racing team hauler for what he describes as the “ICONIC number 43 race car.”When you see these big rigs painted in team colors and adorned with sponsor logos they take on a larger than life appearance.

At 53 feet in length the trailer is essentially a rolling billboard featuring images of the iconic Petty Blue 43 Ford Fusion and products from primary sponsor Smithfield Foods. The cab, Glenn’s office, is a state of the art driver’s compartment designed for comfort, efficiency, and safe operation; the driver’s seat even has its own air conditioning. Inside the trailer, storage compartments hold everything the team will need for their weekend stay at the track.

On the first level there is a complete workshop for suspension components and a driver/crew chief lounge that doubles as the tech center for the team’s base of operations. The lounge is outfitted with comfortable seating as well as an array of computers to monitor the race car’s performance and data recorded onboard during the car’s time on the track. The upper level houses the primary and back up race cars along with an assortment of components that may be required for repairs or parts replacements depending on how events unfold at the track.Glenn Shano Richard Petty Motorsports Nascar Semi Driver

Glenn is a veteran semi driver having worked for several race-teams, including Michael Waltrip Racing, before joining RPM. Interestingly Glenn has two brothers in the business, Jeff and Dave Shano; one brother drives for JTG Daugherty Racing (the number 47 piloted by AJ Allmendinger) and the other brother hauls an Infinity Series car for Team Penske. The racing roots in Glenn’s family go back a generation. Glenn’s father, Bob Shano, drove go-carts, hobby stocks and late-model stock cars in Saturday night bull-rings.  Glenn credits his dad with developing his interest in the sport.

That family tradition is likely to continue as Glenn and his wife Loree have 3 daughters, Ashlee, Aesha, and Autumn. Glenn describes Ashlee as a super-fan “she knows more about what’s going on in the sport than I do.”Driving for Richard Petty is one of the premier and most coveted positions in Glenn’s profession. According to Glenn his dad was a Petty fan and for Glenn to now have the opportunity of driving the number 43 rig makes him feel his dad would have been quite proud of his son’s association with the team. Glenn describes the King as one of the most personable individuals associated with the sport, noting that Richard’s commitment to the fans in signing autographs and taking the time to let them know he appreciated their support was a primary factor in the growth of NASCAR stock car racing.

The Lasco Press had the opportunity to speak with Glenn during the June NASCAR race weekend at Michigan InternationalRichard Petty Motorsports Nascar Semi InsideSpeedway. Glenn was most gracious and it was very apparent Glenn loves his job, enjoys the relationship he has with his teammates, and is proud to be associated with Richard Petty Motorsports, and the NASCAR community. A transcript of the interview is provided below.

LP:          What is it like driving around the most famous race car in America?

Glenn:  Everyone knows Richard Petty and recognizes the iconic number 43 car with the popular Petty blue paint scheme.

LP:          When people drive by do they honk their horn and wave?

Glenn:  Everybody likes the Petty’s, they recognize the truck and wave. That was not always the case with other teams I drove for.

LP:          When you pull into a rest area or stop to eat does the trailer draw a crowd?

Glenn:  Usually where we stop there are just truckers there and they do come over. They want to know how you got the job, theyseem to consider it a premier position and it is a high profile job. What they don’t realize is how much additional work is associated with the position. We are not just truck drivers; we are a member of the race team.

LP:          So you have additional responsibilities once you get to the track?

Glenn:  Absolutely, you are digging all the time, we stay busy throughout the weekend. Actually, the most relaxing time is behind the wheel, that’s when I take it easy and collect my thoughts.

LP:          Have you given an interview before?

Glenn:  Yes, I’ve done a few. I have actually done some infomercials for Sylvania headlights and done some stuff for Freightliner trucks as a spokesperson.

LP:          What’s the funniest thing you have ever been asked?

Glenn:  They always want to know if Aric is in the truck, riding in the lounge. I know that Richard would sometimes ride along years ago. Last year Dale Earnhardt Jr. wanted to ride down to Daytona with his rig just to see what it was like. When they pulled into a truck stop and he hopped out people would do the double take as he went inside; like, that’s not Dale is it?

LP:          Do people ask you for your autograph?

Glenn:  Yes, they do.

LP:          What time will you get out of here on Sunday night?

Glenn:  It takes us probably 35 to 45 minutes to load the truck after a race and get on the road. This whole garage area empties out pretty quickly. You would have to see it to believe it, all that equipment is loaded in here and away you go. The whole crew helps out.

LP:          How long will it take you to get back to Charlotte?

Glenn:  It will take nine hours maybe nine and a half hours with one fuel stop. Not a bad trip back, anything under 10 hours is not a bad trip.

LP:          Do you have days off between the races?

Glenn:  Typically, I will have Monday and Tuesday off, my co-driver will turn the truck around. You have to reload all the drinks, the food, and the chemicals we carry. We clean the truck up and get it ready for the next race. There is a lot to it. Most teams have two drivers and in accordance with D.O.T. rules they drive 10 hour shifts. You have to have 10 hours off between shifts.

LP:          What is your favorite track to go to?

Glenn:  Sonoma, because of the scenery. It will take us 48 hours to drive there but the scenery you pass along the way is beautiful, you don’t get to see that every week.

LP:          What is your least favorite track to drive to?

Glenn:  Probably Charlotte, our own home town is used to having us around and we don’t get that same kind of special treatment that we do at other tracks. There are tracks that do a good job in helping you get the trucks out, this one is actually a good track for helping you get on the road. The police force will help us by making a lane for the big trucks.

LP:          What about Bristol? It seems they have you packed in there like sardines.

Glenn:  Yea, it’s pretty tight in there. Here you have a lot of room between trucks. At Bristol you might have just enough room to open one of your side doors.

LP:          Is it hard to get in and out of Bristol?

Glenn:  It is a whole other experience getting in and out of there. You start by going through the grandstands in turn three and when you get to the top of the track you can’t even see to go down. It’s steep, the banking is 36 degrees so you kind of drop off and head down the bank, then the back wheels of the trailer actually come off the ground before you get to the bottom. It’s a little scary, the first time you do it, it’s intimidating. It’s equally as hard getting out of there, you have to hit it just right with the engine RPMs, but not too fast, you don’t want to tip things out inside the trailer.

LP:          When you have a rain-out like last week at Pocono, what kind of problems does that create?

Glenn:  It just makes our turn around that must harder, I actually came in on Tuesday this week to help my partner get everything ready because you just have less time to get everything done. A one-day delay is not bad but when you have a two-day delay, then you are really talking trouble.

LP:          Are you a race fan?

Glenn:  Yes, that’s kind of how I got into this. My Dad drove race cars for a good many years and my brothers both drive haulers for race teams, it’s kind of a family affair.

LP:          What is your vantage point for watching the race?

Glenn:  Well, by the time the race starts we are starting to get this thing rolled up. We get everything inside ready to go, anything on the counters has to get put away ready for travel. Then you have time to watch the race. We can go up top and watch from there.

LP:          Isn’t that where Richard watches the race?

Glenn:  Yes, he likes to be up there.

LP:          Is Richard a personable guy to talk to as a crew member?

Glenn:  He is a great guy to talk to, he’s got some great stories. Dale Inman has some great stories too.

LP:          Does Dale Inman travel with the team?

Glenn:  Yes, he travels often, tries to come as much as he can. They have some good old stories of back in the day. He’s rough on me, he says “back in the day you don’t know how hard it was when we used to do it.”

LP:          Does your family every come to the races?

Glenn:  They do, they will usually come to the Charlotte races and maybe Martinsville, the ones close to home. My daughter Ashlee, she reads everything about the sport, she keeps up with it and knows everything about everybody, she knows more about racing than I do.  The other two, Aesha and Autumn, they just know that I am involved with it, they check in on me every now and then.

LP:          When you are at the track do you sleep in the cab or do they put you up at hotels?

Glenn:  We stay in hotels. We usually drive in on Thursday, the trucks are all staged outside the track, they get washed, we line up and come in according to points. They take great care of these things, it’s a billboard and the sponsors want then to look good. They get polished regularly.

LP:          So you have to be aware you are driving a billboard and be careful not to cut anyone off?

Glenn:  I’m telling you, you actually have to tip-toe around out there because of all the advertising on here. People will pull up next to you and stare at the trailer. You’re trying to get over a lane and It’s like, hey, wake up.

LP:          What’s the most challenging part of the job?

Glenn:  Probably just making sure I get my stuff right. I fuel the car here in the garage area, I like to take pride in my stuff and make sure my stuff is all ready to go. Make sure the fuel is right, take care of the weights, cool down the motor. The driving and loading is all old hat once you have done it a few times. You just want to be spot-on in the garage area with the guys. If you are good and do your job, they like you and you develop a comradery.

LP:          What is the most fun part of the job?

Glenn:  Winning. Good results pick everyone up. It took me a good long while before I got my first win, I think I was in this business 10 years before I got my first win, but then I couldn’t believe it, I will never forget it, it was great.  I drove home with a big smile.

LP:          What question should we have asked you that we didn’t?

Glenn:  Lately the truck drivers have been involved in doing parades, people don’t always know that. We have done that in Vegas and they have been doing it in Bristol and Darlington for years, more tracks have been getting in on it. The fans really love it, they love to see the big trucks.

LP:          Anything else you want to tell us about your job?

Glenn:  I used to build houses, I was a contractor and this was offered to me by my older brother. He got me started into this and actually it was a good thing because the economy took a dump. But the entertainment business just kept right on going, it was a real blessing. I really enjoy it, there are so many good people here and I think everyone would tell you that, it’s like a family. Last night at the hotel it was our group of guys from Petty and the RCR guys we were all out back cooking out, having a good old time and that’s what it’s all about.

Our thanks to the media staff at Richard Petty Motorsports, Heather, Laura and Kelly were great to work with and accommodated our requests during a busy time at the track. Special thanks to Glenn for his candid responses, he was a pleasure to talk to and a fine representative of the Petty Organization. We wish him and the entire team continued success and look forward to the possibility of interacting with them on a future project.

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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of NASCAR and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines, a freelance technical writer, and a contributing author to a consortium that provides “how to” articles for eBay Buying Guides. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve on the Lasco Press with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.