Andy Papathanassiou

NASCAR veteran, Pit Crew Coach & Director of Human Performance, Hendrick Motorsports

“Pit Crew” training for business leaders to boost innovation, team building and leadership

Andy Papathanassiou became the first ever “pit crew coach,” when he was hired as a member of NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports team in 1992. His philosophy as an outsider ultimately shifted the paradigm of how pit crews select and train their members. Previously, pit crews were composed of mechanics who devoted little time to practicing pit stops – relying instead on their vast knowledge of car building and racing experience. Andy employed an athletic mindset which centered on practice and repetition, coaching and review, innovation and process improvement. Collectively, he calls this philosophy, Over the Wall.

Andy (AKA Papa), a Stanford University master’s graduate, takes us into this world starting with his personal story and how his career in NASCAR began, oddly enough, by breaking the law!

Over his 22+ year career with Hendrick Motorsports – NASCAR’s modern day dynasty, Andy’s team building techniques and Over The Wall philosophy have transformed the paradigm of how all NASCAR pit crews operate. An accomplished communicator and presenter, Andy speaks nationwide to teams that want to reach higher performance and seek more innovative thinking and transformational leadership.

Pit crews operate in one of the most dynamic and demanding teamwork environments imaginable. In racing, like in business and in life, there are no guarantees. Make one mistake that’s too big or at an inopportune time and your day at the race is over – you go home while the race continues on without you.

This creates incentive to be safe and conservative. Balance that against the fact that there are forty-one other teams you compete against at each event and you never have even the chance to win unless you push people and equipment to their limits and beyond at the proper moment. Communication and empathy–understanding what those around you are doing at every instant–are critical factors in this world that judges human performance in tenths of a second. So is innovation, since you must constantly innovate in order to stay ahead. Do something successful at the race track and you can be sure that everyone will soon copy you. If you don’t have the next improvement ready, and the one after that, you quickly fall behind. Innovation is a process, not an “aha” moment.

Interactive learning programs:

Turn your Crew in to a Pit Crew
Keynote program information

“Turn Your Crew into a Pit Crew” is a powerful talk aimed at developing and instilling these same winning techniques to sales and marketing teams at the corporate level.

Using passion to overcome obstacles and makes things happen, he talks about the make-up of highly successful teams. Whether it’s pit crews, sales teams or groups that come together to accomplish any goal, the characteristics of successful teams are universal. Andy discusses leadership and the role of the individual.  He coined the term, “Over The Wall Thinking,” to describe his philosophy. Over The Wall Thinking focuses on the athletic mindset. It doesn’t matter if you know anything about or participated in competitive sports such as racing. It doesn’t even matter if you like sports at all. The cognitive building blocks of competitive athletics give each of us the ability to lead a more engaged, successful and happier life.

Over The Wall – Pitstop Teambuilding
An optional add-on or stand-alone interactive segment with a real race car

The interactive, hands-on session can easily be staged inside just about any meeting venue, without fuss or mess. The impact wrenches run on compressed nitrogen so electrical outlets are not even needed.

Andy has performed Over The Wall in many different locations, both indoor and out. Most of the time it is not in any racing-specific venue. As for length, it : these can be done in as little as a half-day session with two hours of set up and tear down time required before and after the event.

Join the exciting and competitive world of professional motorsports by transforming your executives, marketing divisions, employees, guests and their spouses into NASCAR pit crews.

You’ll use the same equipment the pros use even down to real race cars that have turned laps at tracks like Daytona, Indy and Charlotte.  Organize your team – choose your positions – create your choreography. Use nitrogen powered air-wrenches to zip off lug nuts.  Swap out tires then tighten ‘em back up.  Every tenth of a second counts because you are competing for best time on the stopwatch against your fellow teams–just like race day.

Over The Wall Teambuilding brings an unparalleled amount of fun and excitement to your corporate event delivered through a high energy racing theme.

This event is presented by Andy Papathanassiou, a master’s graduate from Stanford in sociology that has worked with NASCAR pit crews for over 20 years at Hendrick Motorsports with championship teams driven by Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte and Jack Sprague.

In addition to all the fun and memories, participants get a hardcore lesson in successful teambuilding and leadership as only motorsports (and Andy) can teach it.  In the racing world you compete against all other teams simultaneously, not one-on-one as you would in other sports like football or basketball.  So you have to gain the best from everyone on race day in order to win.  Mediocre performances don’t cut it.  You can’t hide or ignore your weaknesses in the pits.  Each mistake or inefficiency negatively impacts the stopwatch.  This instant, time-based feedback is part of the flow of information that teams must manage and process as they try and improve their times.

The session culminates with a pit competition where the team performing the fastest penalty-free pit stop is crowned the champion!

A sampling of Audience feedback:

“Whether we had a working knowledge of racing or not, Andy’s discussion engaged the audience of both men and women and related it to the critical strategies to win in business. His basic philosophy empowered 120+ employees to rethink how we approach our roles to drive results. Here’s our interpretation…

• Practice & repetition: Success isn’t easy. It takes hard work and perseverance.
• Coaching: There’s no ‘me’ in WE. Use your resources to learn more, be more effective, and drive results.
• Overcome adversity: Don’t let challenges stop you.
• Do the impossible: Set goals, make a personal strategy, and make it happen.
I would highly recommend Andy as a speaker and look forward to collaborating with him in future meetings.”

Director of Marketing, WealthEngine