With an eye to increasing that ever important fitness level for drivers and crew alike, Team Penske recently announced the hiring of Jim Beichner as their new Athletic Director. And Beichner could not be more excited as he embraces his new role in the sport.
“It’s a completely new role for me,” Beichner said. “While I’m just learning about the responsibilities, what I can say is that I work with great people.”
“I work for Roger Penske and the Team Penske so it’s an exciting, great new opportunity for me.”
Beichner has certainly had quite the journey to his new position, from race fan as a youngster to wrestling coach as an adult and throughout much of his career.
“I’m originally from western New York,” Beichner said. “I grew up on a couple hundred acre farm just outside of Jamestown, New York, where Lucille Ball was born and raised.”
“I was a race fan and my family was involved with all kinds of different forms of racing, from stock cars, motorcycles and whatever has an engine attached to it,” Beichner continued. “So, I grew up around the sport.”
While Beichner was a race fan, he fell in love with another sport, wrestling, which he has been involved in throughout his life. And while he loved the world of coaching, he augmented his skills in the administrative area at Clarion University, where he earned a degree in Business Administration and Marketing, as well as the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Buffalo where he coached.
“While at the University of Buffalo, I took on as many administrative duties as I could,” Beichner said. “I was Director of Compliance at the University of Buffalo and then got involved with student housing and some other administrative activities.”
“So, the University of Buffalo afforded me opportunities to not just be a coach, of which I’m very appreciative,” Beichner continued. “I knew that I wasn’t going to retire a coach. Somewhere down the line I wanted to be a manger of people and I’m very fortunate that Roger Penske and his group picked me to do this.”
Beichner did not have an inside track on the position. In fact, he saw the job posting like so many other regular job-seekers.
“I saw the job posting and the more I read it, it sounded like me is the best way I can explain it,” Beichner said. “As I read the posting, I said to myself, ‘Jim, that sounds like you.’ All the things that they were looking for in an AD just spoke to me.”
In his new AD role, Beichner is responsible for supervising the pit crews, including the coaches, the strength coach, others in the shop that work with the pit crew.
“So, I’m the manager of people and I feel like that’s one of my strengths,” Beichner said. “I can cross boundaries and relate to just about anybody. Also, I’m a fair and honest person and that’s what they get from me.”
While Beichner is thrilled with his new role and the people with whom he works, Beichner is also excited about the facilities in which he and his staff have the privilege to work.
“I can tell you, our facility is beautiful,” Beichner said. “We have state-of-the art equipment so I couldn’t ask for a better place to be than working.”
While Beichner has been used to training Division I wrestlers who have a certain mentality that they will do whatever they need to get the job done, he readily admits that those he is training at Team Penske demonstrate the same attitude and commitment.
“I see, hear and feel the same dedication with my pit crew members here at Team Penske,” Beichner said. “I’m very impressed with the fact that as a new person coming in with new ideas, which I’ve shared with the coaches, and everybody has bought in and is working hard.”
“I’m very impressed with their attitude,” Beichner continued. “It’s really a great crew to work with. Our coaches are top notch and our athletes are top notch.”
“Our administration is great and through the changes that we are doing, they have bonded in a way that I had hoped they would respond.”
While Team Penske is involved with NASCAR, they are also involved in other forms of motorsports including the IndyCar Series. Given that, Beichner may be called upon to expand his work from just focusing on the world of stock car racing to open wheel racing as well.
“I do what my bosses ask me to do,” Beichner said. “When they ask me to get involved in Indy, as far as their pit crews are concerned, then I get involved.”
“Whatever they want or need me to do, I’m the kind of person that is a company guy,” Beichner continued. ‘Nothing is out of bounds for me. If they ask me to do whatever, I will do that thing that they are asking me to do so I can achieve our goals and help them achieve their goals.”
All of the new changes and challenges excite Beichner but what he is most excited about is getting to the race track to see the fruits of his labors. And he intends to be at the Daytona 500 to kick off the race season in celebration of his new responsibilities.
“I’m really excited about race days,” Beichner said. “That’s probably what everybody would be excited about.”
“I want to see our guys compete at the highest level and I want to see them do great,” Beichner continued. “I believe they are prepared very well and each one of those guys has a good reason to feel excited about race days. I’m excited about getting to those tracks and being out there and watching our guys perform.”
Although Beichner has had quite a career in sports, from wrestling to NASCAR, he admits that he is simply in awe of his new opportunity with Team Penske.
“You’re working for Roger Penske, a legend in motorsports,” Beichner said. “Where else would you rather be if you are a fan of racing than with Roger Penske and Team Penske?”
“I don’t know what else to say,” Beichner continued. “This is where I’d rather be to help them ultimately to achieve their goals.”
“I’m excited to see our Team Penske drivers, Keselowski, Logano and Blaney, out there as a team and I hope we help them achieve more victories than they already have,” Beichner said. “That’s what I’m excited about ultimately is to see those guys win races.”
‘I can’t speak highly enough of Team Penske, Roger Penske and this organization,” Beichner said. “And I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this opportunity.”