Throughout the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, we’re highlighting veterans who work within the racing series, whether for Chip Ganassi Racing, INDYCAR or other racing teams.
This week we’re highlighting Brian Mahone, the director of safety & security for Indianapolis Motor Speedway/INDYCAR. An eight-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, he began working for INDYCAR and IMS in 2022 after years working for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, ending his career there as special operations incident commander.
Mahone spoke with American Legion Social Media Manager Steven B. Brooks about growing up around the Indianapolis 500, how he came to work for INDYCAR, what he took from his service in the U.S. Marines and how it feels to see his employer help take on veteran suicide prevention.
The American Legion: You were pretty familiar with the Indianapolis 500 growing up. What’s it like growing up a short drive from maybe the most famous racetrack in the world, going to races there, to now coordinating the security there and being a part of not just the month of May, but year-round being a part of INDYCAR and IMS?
Mahone: I came here all the time. My dad was big into motorsports. He had friends who worked for different teams in racing on other tracks. So, it’s amazing. Some days I’m looking at the track, and it’s like I remember being a kid and coming here with my dad. And talking about the 500 as a kid and racing slot cars with (two-time Indy 500 champ) Arie Luyendyk on the cover of my Total Control Racing slot car kit, to this is what I do now for a living. It’s incredible. The implications of the big awe of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. When I was in the Marine Corps I was stationed in England for a while. I’m in this little corner of Southern England … and the people there don’t know a whole lot about Indianapolis. But they know the Indianapolis 500. When you’re on the other side of the world and that’s what people know about where you’re from, it’s amazing.
Question: How did you make your way to INDYCAR and IMS as a career?
Mahone: When I got out of the Marine Corps, I went into law enforcement. I came through the ranks from street officer to detective, to lieutenant, to captain, to major. So, I ended up being commander of special operations, and one of our jobs is we’re in charge of all the large events that come to Indianapolis. So, I was out at the 500 as the incident commander or operations chief for numerous years. So, I kind of new a lot of the people there and knew that world from working with them from the law-enforcement side to secure those events. So, when that position opened up, it was right in my wheelhouse.
Question: What did you get out of the Marines that you’ve taken and used in your day-to-day life?
Mahone: Being able to work with different people. The whole diversity scope of the military, we’re talking about every walk of life. Working together for a goal, I think that’s the biggest thing I take from it. There were difficult missions. Harsh conditions. But you understand that if you work together as a team, you’re going to accomplish this, and this is not a problem. The preparedness and being able to work with different people as a team and make sure you strive for that goal, that was always a big thing I took from the military.
Question: Was it difficult finding your place in the civilian world after you’d been in the Marines for almost nine years?
Mahone: I think I was very fortunate in the fact that I came from a military organization to a paramilitary organization. That camaraderie, it was there with the police department. A lot of guys on the police department were former military from different branches. For me, it was an easier tradition because I went from a large military family to a large paramilitary family.
Question: When you look at a team like Chip Ganassi Racing embracing The American Legion’s “Be the One” suicide-prevention initiative, and also how INDYCAR has made The American Legion an official charity and pushed that message out, are you proud of your employer that it sees veteran suicides as an issue and are trying to raise awareness for something like this?
Mahone: I’m very proud of it. It says a lot, especially when it’s doing more than just the lip service. Lip service is important. We need the communication out there. But it’s the actions in bringing it to the forefront and continuing to talk about it, and not just on Veterans Day, but through the whole (INDYCAR) season and using the broadcasts, television and sponsorships to push that message. I’m really proud of the organization for doing that and (INDYCAR) for making that platform available.