Father’s Day this year held special significance for 24-year-old Kelley Indianapolis graduate Chandler Shambarger.
Just a few weeks ago, Chandler and his father, Mark, experienced the ultimate high for a family that grew up in the world of car racing. Both men were able to celebrate together in Victory Lane as part of the pit crew for Bryan Herta Autosport, the sponsor team for the 2011 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
Still reeling from the adrenaline surge that comes with winning the biggest race in the world, Shambarger also is preparing himself for his chosen career in human resources management. He soon begins a new job with the Indiana Department of Personnel.
“It was a really neat experience,” Shambarger said of standing in the Indy 500 winner’s circle. “I remember as a kid my dad won in 1996 (as part of Buddy’s Lazier’s pit crew), and I went on a school field trip to the museum. There was a big picture of my dad with Buddy Lazier and I was able to tell everybody that was my dad.
“I always wondered what that experience (winning) would be like, and I’m glad we got to experience it together,” Shambarger said.
Mark Shambarger has served several Indy Car teams during the last 25 years, including stints as crew chief for some successful race teams. Chandler grew up working with his father in the garage between going to high school and playing sports.
“My Dad told me it was really neat (winning with Chandler by his side),” he recalled. “Growing up, he was gone a lot for racing, you know, and I’m in school and he’s in different states and countries. Sometimes racing isn’t very family friendly, and he said he missed out on a lot … so it was nice to have that together.”
On race day this year, Chandler served as a pit crew member and helped replace tires on Wheldon’s car. He has been on pit lane in some capacity each Indy 500 race since 2005, the year he enrolled at IUPUI to pursue a double major in management and human resources at Kelley Indianapolis.
“I came there because the Kelley School was well known throughout the United States and different people in business I talked to said that was a degree and school that they looked to in the hiring process,” Shambarger said.
Shambarger spent his college days at school and his nights and weekends at his father’s mechanic shop on Gasoline Alley near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he helped restore old cars and work on Indy cars.
He credited Kelley Indianapolis with giving him self-confidence as he pursues his career as a HR manager. He mentioned faculty members Liz Malatestinic, Ken Wendeln and Andrew Lynch as particularly influential.
“Ken always wanted you to strive for more and didn’t take any work unless it was the high quality he expected from you,” Shambarger recalled. “Liz was a mentor. Instead of just teaching you the facts, she tried to show you how it worked in the real world … and was always there to help.”
His future path is still forming as he begins as a recruitment coordinator for the State of Indiana. One thing is for certain, however. Racing will continue as a part of his life, even if it’s just a weekend hobby.
“Some people say they get burned out by what they do, but (racing) never gets old,” he said. “It’s always like the first time you’ve been out there. You come out through Gasoline Alley and look down at all the people, the cars, the packed bleachers … it never gets old. Words can’t describe it.”