Case Study

NASCAR: Every second counts – Helping win from the pits

14 pages
May 2007
Reference: IMD-6-0294

In 2006 Andy Papathanassiou was faced with a new dilemma. After 15 years of working within the racing world of NASCAR, as athletic director for HMS, he was searching for the next breakthrough to improve pit crew performance. Earlier in his career, he had successfully halved pit times and changed standards across the racing industry by introducing athletic training and transforming pit crew members into pit athletes. In doing so, Papa created a legacy in motorsports and transformed auto racing. Papa’s instinct was that within the matching process of assigning pit positions existed an opportunity that would improve performance. Papa was looking for ways to elevate the system dynamic whether it be “man or the machine.” The next breakthrough would most likely be less dramatic than the first, though no less important. Fractions of a second could determine whether a race was won or lost. Other contributing factors were the continued evolution of racing, new automotive technologies and NASCAR’s regular changing of the rules to keep the playing field level.

Learning Objective

To illustrate operational process improvement methods, like lean, and open innovative techniques that can lead to improved performance and productivity in time-based competition. The case uses the concept and illustration of knowledge brokering techniques – using old ideas to find new answers and solutions for problems and how this can be applied to improve performance. It is a platform for considering improvement approaches in interconnected time-based production or service systems. The case also questions what will be the next breakthrough in performance and promotes discussion as to whether it will be a human or technological element.

Knowledge Brokering, Process Improvement, Performance Improvement, Competitive Advantage, Automotive, Car Racing, Production Management, Operations Management
United States of America
Field Research
© 2006
Available Languages
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