One Interview With: Steve NamisnakExtreme E
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 rendition features Steve Namisnak, who previously served in the Army and now operates as a mechanic with CGR's Extreme E team.
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.
When did you join the military? Can you tell us a bit about your experience?
“My mom signed the papers for me to enter the Army when I was 17 years old. I went to work right away with M1A1 tanks in Kitzingen, Germany, with the 3rd and 63rd Armored Division attached to an Infantry Division. In two years, I became a gunner and ultimately left as a tank commander. Then, I went to Fort Riley in Kansas for two years with the 1st Infantry Division. I then got out in 1990 just before Desert Storm started. But just six months later, they said, “We miss you, come on back.” I returned and then we got deployed to Germany and Turkey for six or seven months with a reactionary force at an Air Force base.”
What’s the most important lesson that the military taught you?
“It definitely taught me the importance of responsibility, how to think on your feet and how to be resourceful.”
How did you then find yourself in the world of motorsports?
“I got out of the Army and went to Brookdale Community College in New Jersey to study automotive technology and business. I actually left there a month or two early to go to my first gig in racing, which was the Indianapolis 500. I had been working with an automotive company in Trenton and the owner had previously worked with the Porsche INDYCAR team back in the late 1980’s. So, we got subcontracted to run a car at Indianapolis in 1993 with Willy T. Ribbs. After that, one thing led to another and there I was working in racing.”
What do you enjoy the most about working alongside Chip Ganassi Racing’s Extreme E team?
“I worked in INDYCAR for about 23 years, moved over to sports car and now, am enjoying Extreme E. What is very special about working with Extreme E is how creative you can be. You truly get an opportunity to think creatively and figure out how to make it all work. I tell people, the minute you leave the shop, it is an adventure. There are similarities to my time in the military. You do what needs to be done and you adapt to your environment.”
How does The American Legion’s Be The One initiative resonate with you?
“Whether a veteran was in a war or not in a war, they signed up with the expectation that they may be placed in harm’s way. You could very well see some tough things during your experience and then you have to live with that every single day. This is specifically relating to mental scars, not even factoring for the physical scars. So, to have the support from The American Legion, who is addressing the issue, it is a very good thing.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Always be learning. Find something that you can do and use outside of what you’re currently doing.”
What’s the most memorable place you have ever traveled to?
“I loved Japan, but it would probably be my trip to Greenland with the Extreme E team. It was just such a remote location and then seeing a glacier up close was very special.”
What’s the favorite road trip you’ve ever taken?
“I had to travel to pick a show car up in Iowa for our team when my son was very young. I was able to bring him along which was very cool. We stopped at a hotel in Pella, Iowa, along the way. I’ll never forget that just outside of the hotel, there was a round swing set and the swings swung in. So, you could literally kick the person directly in front of you. I just couldn’t comprehend the genius behind this thing. I thought, ‘What is going on here?’ My son always talks about it still, too. I’ve been on a lot of road trips, but that one was just so strange with the round swing set."
What’s the weirdest hobby you’ve ever tried to pick up?
“I tried to learn how to play the bass guitar. I simply don’t understand how people can play instruments.”
You have every ingredient to make your favorite sandwich. What are you making?
“There will be shrimp on it no matter what. It’s got to be just a very good Po Boy sandwich.”
Source: Chip Ganassi Racing