David Little Found a Home at Team Penske

June 23, 2021


"Penske Material" provides an inside look at some of the personalities, stories and moments that make Team Penske so unique.

David Little was stuck in a rut and needed a change.

The year was 1990 and Little was presented with the opportunity to join a new NASCAR Cup Series team owned by Roger Penske with Rusty Wallace as its driver. Looking for a change and a new challenge, Little jumped at the chance.

“I was at Stavola Brothers (Racing) in 1989 and 1990 and one of the guys who was there was saying (Team Penske) needed some other people,” said Little. “I wanted to go win races again. Rusty had just won the championship in 1989 and I knew of Roger’s background in racing because my dad, Chuck Little, had a team in 1975. I knew all about the team’s professionalism and how nice their cars looked, so I jumped at the opportunity.”

Little was a fabricator by trade but he was also a welder who could also help with body work. His career in racing began with his family’s team in the mid-1970s, competing in select NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series races. Little soon moved to over to the RahMoc Enterprises team with driver Neil Bonnett before joining the team run by NASCAR legend Junior Johnson. After his time working with Stavola Brothers Racing and longtime crew chief Harry Hyde, Little joined Team Penske as he became one of the organization’s first employees of its NASCAR program.

Before he joined Team Penske, Little served as a tire carrier on the over-the-wall pit crews. The move to Penske during the 1990 season represented a shift for Little as he no longer traveled to the racetrack. His focus was fabrication work at the team’s race shop and he also helped make sure the growing team was prepared not only for race weekends, but also for testing and its trips to the wind tunnel. 

        

“We worked on weekends and everything else while they were racing or testing, trying to get cars done,” said Little. “It was hard and it was a lot of work. I think we had five or six of us in the fab shop. David Munari was next door, and he did paint work and that type of stuff, and he only had a couple of guys working with him. We worked a lot of hours.”

After a few months with the team, Little was appointed manager of the team’s fab shop and its band of dedicated warriors that worked under his direction.

“Everybody has got their part that they have to do to make the whole team work,” said Little. “And our responsibilities were to make sure that the cars were ready to go to Munari to get painted. We built the cars, put them together and we wired them, so we had a lot of work to do. We didn’t have all the people that we do have now.”

During Little’s early days with Team Penske, the team worked out of a small shop in Lakeside Business Park in Mooresville. Soon the operation expanded and moved into its current 400,000 square foot facility. In addition to his other duties, Little was also asked to help design the look and functionality of the fabrication departments inside the new facility.  

“If I’m not mistaken, when it was done, (the Team Penske shop) was the largest tile job in the state of North Carolina at the time with like 250,000 square feet of tile,” said Little. “Amazing.”

He noted that another remarkable part of the team is the number of long-term employees that have worked with Team Penske for 30 years or more. In an industry that typically has high turnover, Little said he has always been impressed by the how the team has maintained its workforce and helped its people grow within their roles during their careers.

“I’ve been at other teams and a lot of people say the ‘grass is greener’ but that’s not always true,” said Little, who currently serves as Team Penske’s equipment and assets coordinator. “To me you couldn’t ask for a better place to work. I have worked for some teams before where you didn’t even get any insurance, so (at Team Penske) you come to a team where you get insurance, 401(k) plans and a lot more. Anything you need, you can get. Why would you want to leave? I couldn’t think of another place I’d want to go.”

Little feels the success of the team and the dedication of its people all back to one man – Roger Penske. When his family was racing in the 1970s, Little remembers seeing Penske and he met him for the first time soon after he joined the team full-time.

“I was very impressed by his professionalism and just the way he went about things,” said Little. “I had seen him at the racetrack before in the 70s when we had our car. Everything they always did was first-class. I mean the cars looked nice and the people looked nice – it was just a first-class operation. He’s been extremely good to me. You just couldn’t ask for a better place to work or a better person to work for.”