AUTO RACING: East Grand Forks' Dave Nisbet contributes to Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Indy 500 victory
As a member of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s pit crew, Dave Nisbet couldn’t ask for a better day in racing.
After all, winning the Indianapolis 500 is the ultimate in racing.
Nisbet, a 2005 East Grand Forks Senior High graduate, is a member of Hunter-Reay’s six-man pit crew — a unit that played an instrumental role in the American driver winning the Indy 500 in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d be at the Indianapolis Speedway, let alone involved in winning the Indy 500,” said Nisbet on Monday, a day after Hunter-Reay’s narrow win before roughly 250,000 fans. “It was such an adrenaline rush.”
Hunter-Reay passed three-time Indy 500 winner Heilo Castroneves for the lead on the final lap and held on to edge the Brazilian by .06 seconds.
Also, it was the first time an American has won the Indy 500 since 2006.
Nisbet was back at the track the day after the win. He had his picture taken with Hunter-Reay and the Borg-Warner Trophy, which goes to the Indy 500 winner. The celebration for Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport continued for part of the day but now the focus for Nisbet and the rest of the team turns toward this weekend’s IndyCar Series races in Detroit.
Nisbet has been a member of Hunter-Reay’s pit crew for roughly 25 races, dating back to last season. He’s worked for Andretti Autosport for the past four years.
Nisbet runs the air jack during pit stops, which usually play a major role in IndyCar Series wins.
But Nisbet has other duties with Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport as well. He works mainly on the front half of the car, dealing with the wiring, wiring boxes, the steering rack, front suspension and the front uprights.
Hunter-Reay started 19th Sunday, but it didn’t take long for him to make a charge to the front.
“We had a good car,” said Nisbet. “We just didn’t know how strong it was.”
Since he was 6 years old, Nisbet has been around racing, starting with go-karts. Later, he was working on sprint cars. Now, he’s in the IndyCar Series with one of the top teams in the sport.
“We’ve been having an awesome year,” said Nisbet. “Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”
The Indy Car season is a demanding one. But winning the Indy 500 is something that won’t soon be forgotten.
“You never know if you’ll get to be involved with something like that again, so you’d better enjoy it,” said Nisbet.