Jamie Nanny may hold a unique place in Indy Racing League history, but these days he is equally content to be behind the continued development of former champion Greg Ray's Access Motorsports team.

Nanny, currently co-owner and chief mechanic for Access, was the first person ever to fire the engine on a G-Force IRL car at a racetrack, when he was acting as a crewman for Arie Luyendyk at Treadway Racing in the autumn of 1996.

"That'll never change," Nanny says with a laugh, "A lot of it was a blur. We'd worked so many long hard hours to get to that test. We'd been waiting on parts. It wasn't the most complete race car, but it was functional."

Now, a little more than seven years later, he's in a key position for the Access team with owner-driver Greg Ray and third co-owner, Ted Bitting.

"I got myself into a position to be a chief mechanic on a small team," Nanny said, "It's been a true education working with Greg over the past twelve months. We stay in our own roles and know each other's strengths and weaknesses. My biggest part of the deal is more of a managerial ownership role - Greg is the one who's kept us going.

"With Greg, one of his strongest points is his passion, his unwillingness to quit. He has great driver feedback, good racing savvy, and he's a very deeply competitive-natured person."

Ray is equally supportive of Nanny.

"For me, seeing Jamie Nanny go from being a crew chief to a bona fide leader - and someone I can converse with and sound ideas off of - in the last year is very rewarding."

Series champion in 1999, Ray has since made the transformation from driver to owner-driver.

"I'm crystal-clear on both of those topics, so I don't have to explain it to myself," the Texan said, "I'm trying to carry the ball forward in the boardroom and behind the steering wheel. You see such a monumental quest in front of us, then you work real hard, then you look back and see how far you pushed the bar.

"While we want all the things the big teams have, we don't want to change our small team approach. We are the smallest, littlest, newest team out there, and we should be the series' poster child.

"[When I came to the series], a good engineer and driver even without resources could make a car go quick. Now, with wind tunnel and sim data, that part has moved quantitatively. We're surrounded by teams that are all on the edge. We're in much deeper water on a competitive basis. The difference between first and tenth is not much."

Asked about speeds and IRL rules to slow the cars, Ray reckoned the changes were a good thing.

"If they hadn't taken away everything they've taken away over the last few years, we'd be lapping Indianapolis at 250 miles an hour," the race's 2000 season pole winner smiled.