In early 2016, a veteran tire changer on the 42 cup car suddenly wasn’t coming to the track anymore. Word was he had a heart issue that could be life threatening. Just a little over a year later, he is back on pit road full time and doing as good as ever. We caught up with him and are very proud to share his story. Folks, meet Nick Krizmanich:
When and where did you start pitting?
I first started pitting in 2006 doing some Hooters ProCup and ARCA races.
What Teams have you worked for and pitted for?
I have worked for several teams throughout my career. JTG gave me my first real chance in 2008 on their 47 Busch Series car. From there I spent a year with Front Row Motorsports on the Extenze car before getting picked up by Joe Gibbs Racing for the 11 Fed Ex car. From there I was at Penske Racing and most recently was with the 42 Ganassi racing car.
Have you been part of any wins and/or Championships?
I’ve been very privileged to see victory lane several times in the top 3 series. I’ve been there a total of 41 times with 4 of those being Cup wins. I have championships in both the Truck and Xfinity series’ and 1 Pit Crew Challenge win.
When and how did you find out you had a heart condition?
Found out about my heart issue in February of 2016. I went in for a physical for my supplemental insurance and the Dr. heard a murmur he didn’t like so he sent me out for more tests. That’s where I found out that I had something called Aortic Insufficiency caused by a bicuspid aortic valve.
What did you do when you found out about your condition?
When I first found out that something was wrong I kind of went into shock and didn’t really understand so I started to do research to look at what it meant and what possible procedures I may be facing. I would know more with the next test and cardiologist meeting I had coming up. After meeting with the cardiologist I found out surgery was necessary and had to meet with a surgeon. After meeting with the surgeon I had to meet with work and family and start getting my affairs in order for the upcoming surgery.
When did you get the condition fixed?
My initial surgery was March 29th 2016 but I had to go in for a second surgery April 20 due to an infection of the fluid that surrounds your heart.
What type of rehab did you go through? How long did it last?
Rehab was pretty simple actually, mainly cardio based with some light lifting and stretching. It was a total of 16 weeks at the hospital 3 days a week. One of the most interesting things that I wasn’t prepared for was after the surgery there is a ticking sound that I constantly hear now due to the mechanical valve they used to fix my heart. You can actually hear it if you’re in a quiet room with me.
Currently what cars, trucks do you pit?
As of now I’m back on pit road pitting for the 72 TriStar cup car and the 13 ThorSport truck. Xfinity is hit or miss every week as of right now.
How good does it feel to be back?
I don’t think I can explain how good it feels to be back. Also, I would like to thank all the family, friends and fans that donated and helped me and my family out.
Pittalks would like to thank Nick for his time and sharing his remarkable story. Anytime you see Nick at the track he always has a smile on his face and rightfully so. Thanks Nick, we are very happy to have you back on pit road!