Team Penske’s Tim Cindric learned life lessons from his basketball coach


The obituary simply read that 87-year-old Ed Siegel died Wednesday in Indianapolis from COVID-19. But to those whose lives the longtime Pike High School basketball coach in northwest Indianapolis touched, he was more than a man. He was an inspiration.

Siegel, a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, won 458 games in a 33-year coaching career with stops at Indiana high schools in Stillwell, Southwestern, Boonville and Pike.

Among his former players are current Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and Team Penske President Tim Cindric.

“He was a great mentor,” Cindric told about his former coach. “It was another lesson in effort equals results and prepared me for a leadership role to be a captain of a team. As a high school senior, I was in the spotlight of the Indiana high school basketball that we all knew, which was larger than life as a high school student. He gave you those responsibilities to carry and the ability to lead with your teammates and understand what success really came from.”

Ed Siegel (left), Tim Cindric (right) — Laura Steele Photo

Cindric learned the qualities of teamwork and leadership that have carried him far in his racing career. He graduated from Pike High School in 1986 and earned a college basketball scholarship at Rose Hulman University in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Though Cindric is a member of the Rose Hulman Athletic Hall of Fame, it was an engineering degree that paid off for Cindric. He went to work for TrueSports Racing, which featured Bobby Rahal as its driver. Rahal would purchase the team, and Cindric was a team manager before Roger Penske hired him as Team Penske president in 1999.

As the head of the famed Team Penske operation, Cindric utilizes leadership and teamwork on a daily basis. They are the core fundamentals of the team.

He learned those qualities early in life, from Coach Siegel.

“What I enjoyed the most about our team, is it was a team,” Cindric recalled. “Our group really understood what our roles were. We understood our strengths and weaknesses very well. I wasn’t the highest scorer on the team, but I was the best rebounder on the team. That was my role. I knew my role was in the paint and not outside of the paint.

“The mentality that we had and what he coached as to provide what was best for the team to win. There was very little emphasis on individual statistics and individual contributions aside from what the final score was. It was a great atmosphere from that perspective.”

Two of the greatest college coaches in basketball history were from Indiana. UCLA legend John Wooden was from Martinsville, Indiana, and was the first three-time member of the All-America team at Purdue University. Although Bob Knight was from Orrville, Ohio, he was a Hoosier state legend as the basketball coach at Indiana University.

Ed Siegel — Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Photo

“Coach Siegel was closer to a Bobby Knight than he was a John Wooden,” Cindric said. “He was much more vocal. If you didn’t know him, and if you took what he said personal, you didn’t last very long on the team because you would be frustrated getting yelled at when you didn’t do it right. That didn’t faze me too much. I had been through other athletics and other coaches who approach it the same way. He had a lot of passion and emotion. It wasn’t in some way that was physical. He would yell at you to get your attention, but usually, you deserved it.

“That’s not really my approach. You take your personality and have to develop your personality within the organization that you work for regardless if it’s racing or somewhere else. There is an expectation in terms of the approach the leaders have, and the image leadership portrays.

“Roger Penske is more of a John Wooden character, than a Bob Knight character. In the times I’ve worked for him, I’ve continued to marvel at the way he has been able to control his emotions but have as much passion as anyone else.”

On the basketball court, Cindric was a star at Pike High School. His senior year, Pike was highly ranked before class basketball came to Indiana. The class system started in the 1997-98 season. Cindric’s senior year was 1986, and Pike was one of the top teams in the entire state with realistic expectations of making it to the state’s Final Four.

After winning the Marion County Tournament, Pike was ready to begin its run to the state finals in the Ben Davis Sectionals. But a week before the sectionals began, Cindric broke his ankle in P.E. class.

Cindric played every other game in the sectional until the team met Ben Davis High School on its home court. According to Cindric, Pike lost by 1 or 2 points.

“We lost to Ben Davis both my junior and senior years,” Cindric recalled. “Our claim to fame my senior year was winning the Marion County Tournament. The last time I saw Coach Siegel was a couple of years ago when I was at Indy during the month of May. I was elected to the Silver Anniversary team, which is the 25th anniversary of your senior year. I was elected to that and was with Coach Siegel at the Hall of Fame for that in New Castle, Indiana.

“Without a doubt, he helped prepare you for life. He was the economics teacher and very well-respected in the community and the things he stood for. You couldn’t ask for anyone more committed to the community and to the school.

“Last night, quite a few of my teammates were in the group texts telling stories and reminiscing about all the good things that went on within the team and that era. It brought back a lot of good memories and was fun.”

Ed Siegel — Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame

Siegel coached the Pike Red Devils for 25 seasons, guiding them to their first sectional and regional titles. By the time he retired in 1995, Pike High School had won 19 total titles — county, conference, sectional and regional — in the basketball-crazy state of Indiana. He won five Marion County Tournament titles and eight Central Suburban Athletic Conference titles.

Indiana began the multiclass basketball tournament started in 1997-98. Pike won the first 4A state title.

Siegel demanded excellence of his players on the basketball court and that brought him joy.

Basketball also brought Siegel personal tragedy. His son, Mark, was a member of the University of Evansville Purple Ace basketball team. On December 13, 1977, Air Indiana Flight 216 crashed after losing control shortly after takeoff from Evansville Regional Airport in Evansville, Indiana. Mark Siegel and every member of the team except David Furr was killed in the crash.

Just two weeks after the crash, Furr and his younger brother, Byron, were killed in a car crash near Newton, Illinois.

Mark Siegel was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame on March 25.

“I called Coach to congratulate him on that,” Cindric recalled. “I tried to call him a few weeks ago, but he wasn’t reachable.”

Last Wednesday, Siegel lost his battle to COVID-19.

Deaths from COVID-19 are beginning to hit home. The realization is before this is over, everybody will probably know someone who has had to battle this horrible virus that has shut down the world in 2020.

“It helps you realize this is real,” Cindric said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”