One Interview With: Brian MahoneINDYCAR
Chip Ganassi Racing and The American Legion will be conducting "One Interview With" Q&A's throughout the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Read previous interviews with 2021 INDYCAR champion Alex Palou and Retired Navy SEAL and Extreme E Team Manager Dave Berkenfield.
Today's edition features Brian Mahone, who works as INDYCAR's Director of Safety and Security after launching his career with the United States Marine Corps.
As a reminder, Be The One to:
- Ask veterans in your life how they are doing.
- Listen when a veteran needs to talk.
- Reach out when a veteran is struggling.
Did you have any other family members that were in the military? What initially drew you in to joining the U.S. Marine Corps?
Almost every male in my family has served, including all nine of my uncles, both grandfathers and a ton of cousins. So, we have a long history of people serving in the military. My brother, who is four years older than me, was in the Marine Corps. I think I kind of followed his path as I learned a little bit more about it. I knew that I wanted to get into law enforcement and that was a great start.
Can you tell us about the process of becoming a U.S. Marine? What was that introductory phase like for you?
There was a unique thing that was going on that year when I joined the Marine Corps. I think it was the first year and the only year where they did this, but they had what was called a geo-platoon. Everybody in this platoon was from the Indianapolis area. There were about 80 of us from Indianapolis and then the next platoons were from Detroit and St Louis. Of course, the drill instructors hounded us with the Indianapolis 500. We did a lot of pushups, running and crawling around making race car noises. Both Camp is mentally and physically tough. Young kids away from home who are being put through a grinder. I went to boot camp at MCRD in San Diego, where they called us the Hollywood Marines. It was something that I've never experienced in my life since or before. Every Marine goes through it and that’s how we know what you’re made of.
What were some of the biggest lessons that the military taught you?
I think the biggest lesson was teamwork and placing your trust in the Marine next to you. A lot of things we would do, you had to depend on the people around you, trusting their knowledge and their commitment and not to quit in the process. I would also say the importance of being decisive with your decisions and your directions. It was a life lesson all around, especially if you look at the military with 18-year-old men and women from whatever walk of life they came from, and putting them into this whole group, and having them work together as a team. That process right there teaches you a lot about yourself and everybody else. I think that was one of the biggest lessons, to be able to work with people and understand people from different backgrounds and cultures.
How did you make the transition from a military career to law enforcement and then to security with the INDYCAR SERIES?
When I was in the Marine Corps, I was with the security forces. We guarded special weapons installations overseas and I was with Marine Security Forces Atlantic. I spent time in Europe and then over in Hawaii. When I got out, my goal was to get in to law enforcement and I always wanted to be a police officer. As soon as I did about eight and a half years in the Marine Corps, I pretty much transitioned right over into the Marion County Sheriff's Office. There as a deputy, I worked the streets on regular patrol. I later went to narcotics as a narcotics detective, homicide, grand jury detective, street supervisor and even Lieutenant. After about 26 years in law enforcement, I served in a lot of capacities there. I got a chance to do almost everything there. While I was in one of my last assignments, which was the Commander of Special Operations, we oversaw the large events that were inside Marion County with the Indianapolis 500, Colts games, Pacers games and anything that was a large public event. Over the years, I got to know the people around the track and in the racing world and made a lot of connections there. An opening became available, and it seemed like a natural fit to apply for it. I was fortunate enough that I was selected through the process and was hired over at IMS and INDYCAR and it's been a smooth transition. I'm working with the same people, and it is still public safety. It's just public safety at a different venue.
How does the Be The One initiative resonate with you?
It’s helping our veterans. It has been great because you are hearing people talk about it. To have those real conversations and to have sponsors behind it has been huge. It just has not been something that has been very mainstream, if you know what I mean. I think when you see the car, when you see the branding, you will see the message and maybe ask “how can I help?” It’s been fantastic to see The American Legion out there and in front and driving this.
What is your favorite Indianapolis 500 tradition?
When I’m at the track on race day, I love the stillness of the national anthem, the flyover, the whole package. I just love how you have 350,000 people who are focused and are paying respect to the nation. I also look back through my career and one of my favorite memories would be back when I was working Traffic on motorcycles, I used to wake up at four o’clock in the morning, uniform on and get ready. When that garage door came up you just knew it was going to be a busy day. There was just something so peaceful and calm and cool about it.
What is your funniest or most memorable travel memory?
Over in Europe a lot of the people there knew nothing of Indiana but as soon as you said Indianapolis 500 they knew where you were talking about. When I was stationed in England, I was talking and this guy next to me heard my accent and asked if I was American and where I was from. I told him Indiana and he goes, ‘Oh, you’re American, I’m from Ohio, do you know where Ohio is?’ Just stuff like that was always very interesting and funny. There are always plenty of good memories traveling with the series and being at the racetrack, too. At 6’4”, and built closer to a linebacker, it’s always funny when people come up and ask if I am a driver.
Do you have a peculiar hobby or skill that you’ve developed?
I really like to learn a little of everything. I love to learn new skills and could spend months learning how 3D printers work and then turn around and read about ravens and how smart they are. I love golf because you’re always trying to improve. I also like sailing because there is a peacefulness about the water and the wind. I love technology and in general, I just like the idea of learning and learning new things and skills.
If you had 24 hours and unlimited resources, how would you spend that day?
I’d probably spend the time golfing around the best courses in the world, Pebble Beach and Augusta for sure.
Do you have a dream car?
I don’t have a specific dream car, but at 6’4”, I always like a good pick-up truck. It’s a good match for me and I always want a nice, comfortable pick-up.
Source: Chip Ganassi Racing