Meet the Crew: Chris Hogue
Meet the Crew: Steve Krock
Ed Carpenter Racing
August 26, 2013
August 26th 2013 - STEVE KROCK, Race Mechanic/Sub-Assembly
A Milwaukee School of Engineering graduate moved to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2012 after working with Dragon Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series…. Krock has also served with Team Apex, working in the Star Mazda Championship and the Formula BMW Series.
How did you get an interest in racing as a child?
"I actually got it from dad (Jim) who listened to the Indy 500 on the radio each year. He listened to the race as a child and that carried over into our family. Then we would watch the Indy 500 on television too. I grew up in the Chicago area near the O’Hare Airport. No one in my family was involved in racing until I showed some interest at age 15. I had an interest in IndyCar racing. Then when I was 18, I put together enough money to buy a go-kart. So I got into kart racing and I did that competitively for about ten years. My first kart race was in Indiana but I was track champion at Sugar River Raceway in Illinois. That is the same place that Danica (Patrick) started. I raced in a spec class (100cc). I wanted to be a driver but I discovered that I wasn’t going to be one. I worked myself into being very competitive but I wasn’t a natural. I was a pretty good athlete as a kid. I played soccer since I was eight years old. I was a varsity player in soccer and gymnastics in high school. I was able to race in between my athletics and it was a summer season for racing, from April to October.”
How did you get the money to go racing?
"I would have two or three different jobs to help with my karting. Elk Grove Village has the biggest industrial park in the country, so I got jobs at various locations. I worked for a couple of warehousing companies. I was a stock guy or a shipping clerk. I worked at a J.C. Penney for four or five years. Then into college, I got enough money to do some car racing. I did a little bit of Skip Barber racing and some racing in SCCA. But the money dried up. But then I discovered that I wasn’t going to make it as a driver. But I wanted to stay in racing, so I might as well make some money in racing.”
You had decided to go to college and have a chance to get into racing?
"Yes, I went to the Milwaukee School of Engineering. I got my M.E. degree and I knew I wasn’t going to be a driver but my degree could take me into the racing business. I randomly talked with some crew members when I went to the IndyCar races when I was 16 and 17 years old. A couple of the guys said you want to go into engineering school. So that is what I did. Milwaukee was always our closest race so my dad and I would go to the races. I would walk around and ask questions of the teams. I always wanted to work in the IndyCar Series. Since I was a little kid, my dad would listen to the Indy 500 and it was so exciting. And it was part of our life. My dad and I spent a lot of time together and bonded at the races. My dad just had an interest in cars when he was younger. But he was never in the sport. He was so into the 500 because that was THE race when he was growing up.”
Were you able to get a job in racing right out of college?
"I tried but I didn’t have a lot of contacts in racing. I lived in Chicago, so aside from Newman Haas and Dale Coyne Racing, there wasn’t anyone around in the racing business. After college, I took a normal engineering job and I was a design engineer for a company that manufactured plumbing parts. I was a plumbing engineer for about five years. I then find my way into a Formula BMW team down in Indianapolis. That was Team Apex and I started building relationships in racing from there. I knew I wasn’t going to stay in Chicago with the engineering jobs there. I also raced in SCCA with Formula E, which was an open-wheel car with tube frame and 2.3-liter Mazda engine. It’s the equivalent of a Star Mazda chassis but with a tube frame instead of a carbon frame. I only did that for a handful of races. It is pretty expensive to race those cars. I raced at Elkhart Lake, I tested at the Autobaun in Joilet and I raced at Black Hawk Farms. I had moderate success. I won two of the three races I was in. And I did have some sponsors too. I had a company that paid for more than a test in Formula E. My dad’s company sponsored me in karts. I had a trucking company which sponsored me once. I was a business minor in school so I knew that I needed to find sponsorship if I was going to stay in racing and drive.”
Did you move to Indy to be with Team Apex, the Formula BMW team?
"Yes, I moved to Indy then. We had some good drivers too like Jorge Concalvez and other South American drivers. The shop was in Brownsburg. I was with Team Apex for three seasons. One was a fly-in season and then two full-time seasons. The first two seasons were in Formula BMW and the third season was in Star Mazda. I was a mechanic with that team. I didn’t use my engineering skills there. I always felt that I wanted to understand the cars physically. I want to work on the cars. As an engineer, I wanted to know what the cars were doing and I want to have my hands working with the cars. I didn’t have any formal training with race mechanic duties. I learned with my go karts and then race cars. The first time I actually worked on a race car was in Formula BMW. ”
Where did you go after Team Apex?
"I went to the DeFerran Dragon IndyCar team after Team Apex. I was starting there right when things were falling apart. I worked there for about three and half weeks. Tony Kanaan was supposed to be our driver but everything came apart. The day that it fell apart I got calls from a couple of teams who heard that the DeFerran Dragon team was coming apart. One of the guys was my old team manager at Team Apex who was working for another Star Mazda team. So the next day I moved my tool box from the DeFerran Dragon team to a shop down the street in Brownsburg. I was there for a handful of races for Linares Racing but I was still looking to get into IndyCars. And Dragon Racing was being restructured at that point. Then I got a call back from Dragon to go to work there and I moved back with them. I stayed with Dragon during the 2011 season and Paul Tracy then. But we didn’t qualifying for the Indy 500. We wrecked two cars in 24 hours.”
At the end of the 2011 season, did you know Ed and Derrick were putting a team together?
"I had heard about it. Racing is so much about networking and I knew Ed had a new team and Derrick was involved. And I was talking to some other teams at that point too. I put a resume in at Ed Carpenter Racing. At first, I didn’t get an answer so I called back again. And then just an hour later, Derrick called me and asked if I wanted to come in for an interview. I think Derrick was just going through all of the resumes and inquiries at that point. I had worked with Albert Gray, our gearbox guy, at Dragon. But I hadn’t worked with any of the other guys. I was like the third mechanic hired so we didn’t have specific jobs at that point. We didn’t even have the new Dallara car yet. At that point, we didn’t have Nick (Cooper), Paul (Hicks) or Chris (Hogue) on the team yet. When we got the first car I started working on the front end and getting the wiring in place. They had found some guys to do the front end work like Paul, but they didn’t have anyone to do the sub-assembly at that point. It has some relationship with the engineering part of the sport. There is more computer time and I have to carefully track our parts for mileages and serial numbers. I have to track those things and work with the budget. Most mechanics don’t have to do that part of the job. I had worked on sub-assembly at Dragon but this Dallara was a new car. But the whole idea was still the same. You have to make sure that your parts are A, safe, B. reliable and C, fast.”
What is your job at the track?
"My job at the track is as a front end mechanic. I help Paul (Hicks) on that end of the car. In addition to the sub-assembly items, I work with engine preparation too. I have to make sure that my parts are in order. Then if we are changing headers, changing turbos or making the waste-gate work, that kind of falls under my umbrella.”
How do you like being at ECR?
"It has been very good for me. I like smaller teams. At first, I thought I wanted to be in a big team. But that may not be the situation for me. I like smaller groups. I like the fact that we haven’t had a lot of turnover here. Since we started, we really have only added people. I like the continuity and the fact that we have gotten to know each other well. We have met their families and we seem to get along very well. With Ed being the owner and the driver, he is more involved with guys and the team that a normal driver. You don’t just see him on race weekends. You see him walking through the shop and he stops and talks to everyone. He asks what we are working on. I like that aspect of the team too. I like the smaller, home-style atmosphere.”
What is the toughest part of your job with ECR?
"It would be the balancing of the work load between the preparation of the parts and having everything ready for the guys to mount on the car as well as working on the engineering side. I must balance out the different job descriptions. So I have to hit it pretty hard immediately when I get back from a race. I need to be a couple of days ahead of the other guys with my parts and preparation. I need to get ahead of everything that is going on the car. I know what my work load is going to be and I can think ahead of what is needed.”
You hurt your leg playing recreational soccer recently. How does it feel now?
"We have a good relationship with St. Vincent Sports Performance so that has helped me with my leg. Plus I work out on my own too at night. The knee feels better now. I haven’t played soccer since the injury but I’m sure I will in the future. I need to adjust my play style too. I need to be more careful with what I am doing. My soccer team is comprised of guys in IndyCar racing. And I still race a little in SCCA. A friend has a Mazda Miata that he takes to the race track and I pay the entry fee. So I can race pretty cheaply right now. If I get the opportunities on open weekends, I run out and drive the Miata. We did a 13-hour endurance race at VIR in Virginia last year. That was a lot of fun. We started dead last but finished 22nd out of 55 starters. We had a great time. I am the type of person that keeps working on something I like. If I get bored at job, I’ll go do something else.”
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