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Andy Papathanassiou was the first person hired as a pit crew coordinator when he was hired as a member of NASCAR's Hendrick Motorsports team in 1992.

Andy Papathanassiou (*)

Papathanassiou grew up in Emerson, New Jersey.[1] He is the son of Greek immigrants who favored education over sports.[2] He attended Emerson Jr./Sr. High School, where he played on the football team, leading it to a perfect season in 1984.[3] He played college football at Stanford University. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Economics, and a master's degree in Organizational Behavior from Stanford.[4]

After college, he joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1992 as the team's pit crew coordinator. Papathanassiou had the pit crew members practice frequently and undergo strength training. Under his guidance, Jeff Gordon's 1995 pit crew frequently had the fastest pit stops, which contributed towards the team's championship. Other teams took notice, and by the late 1990s most teams had adopted Papathanassiou's methods. Teams now employ many college athletes, and pit stop times have decreased from 18 or 19 seconds in the early 1990s to 13 seconds today.[4]

Teams now regularly hire former football and hockey players, who undergo rigorous training aimed at reducing pit stop time to a minimum. Team members will exercise, lift weights and use techniques to improve coordination under the guidance of strength and conditioning trainers, with coaches providing guidance based on videos taken of each pit stop. Pit crew members can earn as much as $100,000.[1]

Papathanassiou remains with Hendrick Motorsports, and now serves as Executive Director of the North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA), a position he has held since April 2006. [5] Papathanassiou regularly gives motivational speeches about the techniques he has developed and how they can be applied.

^ a b Bernstein, Viv. "On Pit Row, It’s First and Tire Change", The New York Times, August 15, 2006. Accessed October 17, 2007. "Hendrick Motorsports was the first to hire a pit crew coordinator when Andy Papathanassiou of Emerson, N.J., a former Stanford football player, joined the team in 1992."
^ "Business of Motorsports in North Carolina", Society for Manufacturing Engineers, Tuesday October 2, 2007. Accessed October 24, 2007. "A native of Emerson, New Jersey, Andy grew up as the only son of Greek immigrants who favored education over sports."
^ Schwartz, Paul. "Papathanassiou still owns Bergen shot put record", The Record (Bergen County), September 14, 2003, accessed October 17, 2007. "At Emerson High School from 1982-1985, Papathanassiou anchored a line that led Emerson to an 11-0 football season in his junior year and the designation of the best team in school history."
^ a b Andy Papathanassiou biography at nationwidespeakers.com, Retrieved October 19, 2007.
^ "NCMA Appoints Andy Papathanassiou Executive Director", press release reprinted at frontstretch.com; Retrieved October 19, 2007

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