HOMETOWN: Adelaide, Australia
RESIDENCE: Charlotte, NC
Executive Vice President of Engineering
As a youngster, Nick Hughes dreamed of a life in motorsports, but he always thought he’d make his living as a driver on road courses and not as one of NASCAR’s rising young engineers.
Hughes started racing go-karts in his native Australia. He moved up the ranks and began racing Formula Ford cars on the state and national levels with great success sometimes going wheel-to-wheel with fellow countryman Marcos Ambrose.
The more Hughes raced the more he realized he had an even keener interest in the underlying science and technology of the racecar. So, he gave up the driving career and studied engineering at the University of Adelaide where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
After graduation in 1996, Hughes began working for Penske Racing Shocks in Australia then transferred to Penske Racing Shock’s headquarters in Reading, Pa. While working for Penske he designed dampers systems and suspension components for teams in Indy cars, American Le Mans, NASCAR plus world championship winning Formula One teams like Renault and McLaren.
In 2003, Hughes jumped to NASCAR as a suspension engineer for Evernham Motorsports. During his five years with the team he oversaw the team’s damper and seven-post program and also wrote several vehicle simulation programs used daily by the engineering staff. Additionally, he served as the race day engineer for drivers Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne.
In January of 2008, Hughes joined Michael Waltrip Racing as director of engineering. Eventually he became technical director and executive vice president of engineering where he oversees an engineering staff that is on the cutting edge in the science of making cars go faster. Extensive testing, innovative software and design systems are just some of the elements Hughes focuses on for MWR’s Sprint teams