Q&A With Hendrick Motorsports Director of Engine Operations Jeff Andrews
It’s not often that NASCAR fans are presented with an opportunity for a sit-down with the man who makes engines tick for one of the sport’s premier teams. With the help of Valvoline, we were afforded such an opportunity with Jeff Andrews, the man behind the engines at Hendrick Motorsports, for our podcast All Turns No Brakes.
As you can imagine, the conversation included cars, engines and, of course, NASCAR talk. We quickly learned that Andrews’ passion for engines is unmatched.
Jeff Andrews has been the Director of Engine Operations at Hendrick Motorsports for the past 25 years. He is more than an employee at Hendrick Motorsports; he is part of their DNA, which is evident by his progression throughout the years to his current position.
His primary role at Hendrick Motorsports is to assign the building and assembly of the engines coming out of their program. Andrews ensures that the teams are equipped with top-notch NASCAR-approved engines that can compete with the best on the circuit. Jeff Andrews’ career, success and history with Hendrick Motorsports is very inspirational, especially for anyone considering a career in the performance racing, engine and parts manufacturing industries. Below are a few gems he shared during our Q&A.
All Turns No Brakes: How did you start working with Hendrick Motorsports? Did you always know that you wanted to work on cars or was there something that happened in your career?
Jeff Andrews: I was, as you say, ‘born into it.’ My father had an engine shop on the West Coast where he built engines for sprint cars, midgets, and supermodifieds. I grew up standing on the back of engine stands watching engines being built. So naturally, I had a passion for racing and I knew that's what I wanted to do professionally. In 1988 I got an opportunity to work for an IndyCar team. I took that opportunity and was in that industry for about six years. I loved that industry, but I wanted more and had the opportunity to meet the late Randy Dorton in 1989. Soon thereafter he hired me at Hendrick Motorsports.
All Turns No Brakes: What is the natural progression of becoming the Director of Engine Operations? Take us through where you started and how you got to the level that you're at now.
Jeff Andrews: When I first came to Hendrick Motorsports, I was in an engine assembly role, which is what I had been doing with the different teams I had worked for in the IndyCar business. I assembled engines there for six or seven years. At that point our company was starting to grow and we were starting to get into the business of leasing engines out to other teams and not just supplying them to our own teams. Randy Dorton pulled me out of that assembly role and put me into an assembly management role. That role just continued to grow. Unfortunately, we lost him in 2004 and I was in a position at that time where Mr. Hendrick gave me the opportunity along with my counterpart, Jim Wall, to run the program.
All Turns No Brakes: There are multiple types of tracks on the circuit. Which is the fastest? Which is the most historic to you? And which is the most unique?
Jeff Andrews: The fastest, in terms of vehicle speed would be here in Daytona or Talladega. For me, I enjoy Darlington and Dover. We have a lot of tracks that are similar in configuration that we go to. Somewhere like Darlington is unique. It really puts the cars in the driver's hands. I enjoy watching that race.
Unique from an engine side, there are a couple of them. Obviously, Daytona and Talladega kind of present their own challenges with the restrictor plates. Pocono is another unique one because we shift there. It’s a long track and requires a very unique power bend for that circuit.
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