Chip Ganassi credits Pittsburgh roots for his success in American motorsports

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Chip Ganassi is one of the most decorated owners in American motorsports. 

A native of Monessen and graduate of Fox Chapel Area High School and Duquesne University, Ganassi got his start in racing at a young age before doing it professionally in his early 20s.

After a life-threatening accident at the 1984 Michigan 500 IndyCar race, Ganassi’s focus moved to ownership. But he admitted that his current level of success is not something he expected.

“In those days, it would have been great for me to go to the Indianapolis 500, let alone be in it,” Ganassi said.

His success across the racing world started because of his lifelong passion. 

“I loved all forms of motorsports my whole life,” Ganassi said. “Just the fact I’ve won at Indianapolis, I’ve won at Daytona, won at Le Mans, I’ve loved all those sports since I was a kid.”

Ganassi spent two decades as a team owner in NASCAR and won several races, including the 2010 Daytona 500 and 2010 Brickyard 400. Though he never won a championship in that series, he helped bring drivers like Tyler Reddick, Alex Bowman and eventual Cup Series champion Kyle Larson into the NASCAR spotlight.

However, in 2021, Ganassi received a call from one of his former drivers, Justin Marks, the co-owner of Trackhouse Racing with musical artist Pitbull, about buying his race team. 

“I had the other teams and I didn’t want to say goodbye to them and it was a bit of a conundrum,” Ganassi said. “I was really not thinking about selling the team at all. Then one day someone called up and wanted to buy it.”

Ganassi said the sale of the team surprised him as much as it did everyone else.

Though Ganassi isn’t a part of the NASCAR community anymore, he still runs some of the top teams in IndyCar and the International Motor Sports Association, and they maintain that success because of a strong commitment to winning.

“I’m able to give drivers what they want,” said Ganassi. “So, I think good drivers want to be with us. We’ve always been able to access the best drivers in the sport because of the team we put out there for them.”

After three decades in the racing scene, Ganassi was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2016, but he still maintains his Pittsburgh-area roots have helped him achieve the success he’s seen.

“I’ve never been one to seek the spotlight,” Ganassi said. “Maybe that’s a trait of Western Pennsylvanians. We let our work do our talking and not our mouth.”

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