What's Behind Some of the Top Team Penske Nicknames

August 10, 2020

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

They may carry a deep meaning or they may originate from a funny story that happened years ago. Sometimes they represent the exact opposite of the holder’s personality or reveal a hidden persona. Nicknames come in all different shapes and sizes and Team Penske has more than a few of them that can be heard at the race track and within the team’s facility in North Carolina.

Take a closer look at some of the more colorful or memorable nicknames at Team Penske and the stories behind them:

“MYRON” – Jon Bouslog has worked for Team Penske for more than 33 years. He is currently the General Manager of the team’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program after serving as Team Manager for its IndyCar teams for several years. Hardly anyone calls him “Jon,” however. Most people think his given name is “Myron” but it’s a nickname that was given to him at his first job when he was working at a custom wheel shop as a high schooler in Anaheim, Calif. “A guy working there said, ‘Hey, you look like Myron from Happy Days,’” said Bouslog, referring to the character of a mouthy kid that gives Fonzie a hard time on the popular sitcom from the 1970s. “It just kind of spread around the wheel place after that.” Bouslog’s brother Tim also worked at the shop and when he got a job in racing a few years later, Jon moved to Indianapolis to join his older sibling in the sport. Tim introduced his brother as “Myron” to everyone he met in racing and the name took hold. “Since then, everyone just calls me Myron…even my mom calls me that now!”

“MULE” – Dave Nichols has worked as a tire specialist on the Team Penske NASCAR teams for years. In 2020, he is working on the No. 12 Ford Mustang driven by Ryan Blaney after serving on the No. 22 team for the several seasons. Everyone refers to Nichols as “Mule.” Team Penske teammates have even told him they can’t find his email address in the organization’s internal directory because they’re looking under “M” for “Mule.” As Nichols tells it, he got the nickname back in 2001 when he worked on the Roush Racing Xfinity Series team with driver Greg Biffle. The team was racing at California Speedway (now Auto Club Speedway) when Nichols accidentally knocked a jack handle off in the tight garage area at the track and it flew up and landed on a crewman from another team. Nichols did the same exact thing again later that day and the handle hit the same guy which prompted the crew chief of Nichols’ team to remark “You’re like a bull in a china shop!” One of the other team members chimed in “No, he’s more like a Mule!” And the rest is racing history.

“SHAGGY” – Brandon Pope is in his fifth season as a NASCAR Cup Series engineer with Team Penske. After working on the No. 2 team for the last few seasons, Pope transitioned with the rest of the 2 crew to the No. 22 Ford Mustang and driver Joey Logano in 2020. Pope is affectionately referred to as “Shaggy” by his teammates for his resemblance to Scooby-Doo’s sidekick and best buddy.  When Pope first joined Team Penske he had a long, flowing beard. Brian Wilson, former engineer on the No. 2 team who is now Crew Chief of Team Penske’s No. 22 NXS Ford, said he noticed Pope’s beard kept getting shorter and shorter each time he saw him at the track. Pope then finally asked Wilson if he thought the beard was trimmed up enough to pass the (Team Penske) code. That’s so Shaggy.

“BONEPONY” – The honor for the most usual Team Penske nickname may go to Scott Baier, who works as a fabricator for the team. In the 1980s, Baier was a drummer in a “hair band” called Bonepony. After a few years of playing in the band, Baier left Bonepony to get married and he found his way into a career in racing. While the band played on and some of its original members continue to this day and have opened at festivals for such southern rock acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special, Baier earned himself a cool nickname. “I told some guys in the shop about my days in the band and showed them some old pictures and they started calling me Bonepony,” said Baier. “Some guys call me Bone, some call me Pony, but they have fun with it and so do I.” Rock on, Bonepony!

“SNAKE” – Tom Janiczek got his Team Penske nickname nearly 20 years ago while working at the team’s IndyCar race shop, then located in Reading, Penn. A design engineer that still works in the team’s IndyCar program, Janiczek wasn’t taking the bait in 2001 when one of his co-workers was trying to get him riled up. With Janiczek known as one of the nicest, good-natured guys on the team, the co-worker started to get frustrated. “One day he just stops and declares to the group that I’m too easy to work with,” recalls Janiczek. “He said I need a nickname to make me seem tougher. ‘We’re gonna call you Snake from now on.’  I didn’t think much of it until it spread and most people on the team pretty much just started calling me Snake.” Strangely, the nickname stuck and both Janiczek and his teammates have embraced the slithery serpent handle over the years, though it seems no one outside of racing calls him Snake. “My absolute favorite thing about the nickname is when my wife hears someone call me ‘Snake’ she just giggles uncontrollably.”

“SVEN” – In his 24th year with Team Penske in 2020, Matt Jonsson remains one of the top chief mechanics in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The car chief and outside front tire changer on the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet driven by Will Power over the last several years, Jonsson has been a part of eight Indianapolis 500 victories and seven series championships during his career at Team Penske. As a nod to his Swedish heritage, Jonsson was presented with the nickname of “Sven” in his first year with the team in 1996 and he always viewed it as a term of endearment and acceptance within the team. “A lot of us younger guys on the team, at the time, had nicknames,” said Jonsson.  “Some were good, some were bad, but one thing was for certain – no one got to pick their own or decide which one they liked.” Jonsson’s nickname is unique in that it has evolved over the years. While some still refer to him as “Sven,” it has also morphed into “Swede.” The transition doesn’t matter to Jonsson though – he carries both of those monikers proudly.

“PEACHES” – Andy Plummer works in the machine shop at Team Penske. He has been known as “Peaches” for almost as long as he can remember. He got his start in racing as a wide-eyed 16 year-old working with legendary engine builder Keith Dorton. As the story goes, Plummer wasn’t even old enough to shave when he started working with Dorton. Even when he began to get a little growth of a beard there was hardly anything to speak of so Donnie Spinks, who went on to work for Penske Engines, noticed the “peach fuzz” on Plummer’s face and started calling the young kid “Peaches.” Nearly 35 years later, Plummer is still going by the same nickname, though he has to shave a little more often now.

“FATBACK” – Though it’s not a very flattering one, Team Penske transportation driver Justin Bosch has embraced the nickname “Fatback.” When Bosch was working with the Team Penske IndyCar team in 2012, his teammates became aware of his love for pork rinds. His favorite kind was called Fatback so naturally, Bosch absorbed the title of his preferred snack food. “I think it’s a pretty unique nickname and it’s almost said more than my real name,” said Bosch, who now drives the hauler that carries the No. 12 Ford Mustang driven by Ryan Blaney in the NASCAR Cup Series. “There are times people say my real name and I never answer because I’m so used to hearing ‘Fatback!’” 

It's impressive how nicknames can take on a life of their own. There are many more nicknames at Team Penske and team members all seem to carry their adopted handles with pride, honor and good humor. What’s in a (nick)name? A lot. Though it may not be their given name, each of the nicknames have meaning and help make their holders a valued member of one of the most successful organizations in sports history.



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