Generally-speaking, fueling a race car on NASCAR pit road may not be considered rocket science. But if it were, Brook Davenport would be up for that job too.
The Trackhouse Racing engineer by-weekday and fueler by race-weekend is another example of the team’s innovative approach to competition and teamwork. And brainwork.
Davenport, 26, of Centreville, MD, grew up about 45 minutes south of Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway and attended a couple races there with his family. But Davenport, concedes, he was hardly a NASCAR superfan. Nor, would he have ever guessed that one day he would be working for one of the premier organizations in the sport.
On race weekends, he fuels the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet driven by Ross Chastain as well as the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Xfinity Series car and the No. 42 Neice Motorsports Chevy in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. During the week, Davenport works in the Trackhouse Racing engineering department.
However, for much of his life, Davenport’s chosen athletic pursuit was football. He was right-sized – 6-foot-5, 240 pounds - and he earned a college scholarship playing on the offensive line for The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
He was smart, agile, competitive. And strong. All talents that have also come to be integral and important in his dual roles at Trackhouse where he has risen to important and demanding positions – both on pit road and in the shop.
“It is a busy schedule,’’ Davenport conceded. “I love it and kind of just went all in, but I’ve loved every minute of it.’’
As with several of his coworkers, Davenport never envisioned himself working at a race team. Super Intelligent and driven, he initially set his sights “higher” - literally-speaking – as in the atmosphere. His engineering degree had a concentration in aerospace and orbital mechanics. And he answered that with a masters degree studying jet propulsion, thinking he would one day work at NASA or SpaceX.
He held impressive internships and contemplated a life in the space industry. But, Davenport says, he “stumbled onto a blog post” written by another former college athlete-turned NASCAR pit crew member and it truly intrigued him.
“I knew I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day as an engineer and that was kind of what turned me off about the aerospace stuff at these big companies,’’ Davenport said. “You go in and sit behind a computer for 12 hours a day and I was like, if I can somehow combine athletics that I love and use my degree at the same time, that would be a great fit.
“And everything I read on the pit side sounded like a good fit and I got to stay active and that kind of fueled my pursuit.’’
“In college I had heard about athletes going down [to Charlotte] to pit race cars and I thought that would be really cool because I knew I wasn’t going to the NFL at that point,’’ Davenport continued. “To combine engineering and athletics seemed like ‘the perfect fit.’ So, I came down to Chip Ganassi Racing at the time and had a day of practice with the team and a workout. And I was like, ‘I think this is it.’ I came back to school before I graduated and kind of set my sights on that [working in racing].
“That was how I wanted to proceed.’’
First, however, he had to prove not only his ability to work for the team and fit in with the team, but also his willingness to learn and climb the ranks. As with all big-time sports, the “starting” positions are hard-earned and you have to work your way up.
“My parents helped me load everything up and I came down here,’’ Davenport recalls, adding with a laugh, “For the first 9-10 months I was also working as a valet and moving furniture for like $12 an hour – with a mechanical engineering degree.
“I was kind of like, ‘what am I doing with my life?’ But it all worked out in the end. And my family has been super supportive.’’
It’s really been the best of both worlds for Davenport – answering the high-pressure, high-action demands on pit road on the weekend and serving as an engineer for the company in various capacities during the week.
“I joke with our 1-car group [Chastain] that my goal before I turn 30 is to crew chief a truck and gas a car on the same weekend,’’ Davenport said. “I want to move toward the race operations side. You can’t pit a race car forever, so I think that’s where I want to go in the near future.”
The big aspirations are exactly what the team hopes to inspire and Trackhouse Racing has certainly been a great fit making use of Davenport’s talents – both physical and intellectual. And he is surrounded by the kind of motivation that has both elevated him and elevated the company.
“Everyone that [stayed] here [at Trackhouse Racing] wanted to be here which was really cool,’’ Davenport said of the team’s founding. “Fast forward 6-9 months - at the track and at the shop - there’s a little bit of magic sprinkled in there and [team owner] Justin [Marks] brings it and Ross [Chastain] brings it and Daniel [Suarez] brings it.
“Everyone wants to do their job and everyone wants to be really good. It’s something I’ve never seen at anywhere else I’ve worked. Everyone comes in an hour early or stays an hour late and there’s never any pushback. Everyone has the same common goal. And Justin does a great job from the top leading and so does Ty [Norris] and [Tony] Lunders.
“I think you build it with the personnel, and they’ve done a really special job building it up.
“It’s all worked out really well.’’