This Blog Post is about the men and some women on the Pit Crews of NASCAR. This first photo is of the fans looking into the garage area at a race.
Millions of fans would love to have access to the garage and pit road areas. This post shows you what goes on in these two places.
Here we see the crews going to work in the morning.
It’s quite a scene to see all of these guys at once.
This is Pit Road at the Daytona 500. It’s quite a crowded area to try to work in.
I’ll refer to these crowded Pit Roads later on in this post.
The tires are oh so important in trying to win a race.
GoodYear provides the tires for the teams.
Prior to the race, the teams will prep the tires for the big event.
They clean the rims real well, then glue the lug nuts to the rims for speed reasons.
The tires have a tread thickness of only 1/8 of an inch.
The tires on a NASCAR car weigh 50 pounds each, and someone has to push them and carry them to the pits for all the changes.
The people who are changing these tires are chucking around these tires like they weigh nothing, and that is because the men who work on pits crews are in very good physical condition.
The tires can cost as much as $450, or $1,800 for a set of 4.
This blue signifies Richard Petty’s team, also the number 43.
Notice the small piece of yellow tape, not the long strip of yellow. I’ll talk about that later on.
The Pit Crews all line up for the National Anthem before the race.
I’m betting you’ll never see a NASCAR Pit Crew member taking a knee during the Anthem.
They’d probably be fired the next day.
NASCAR has too much Patriotism for anyone to decide to take a knee in protest of anything.
I think it looks cool to see them all lined up, showing respect for our country and its’ history.
Even the NASCAR crews line up.
I took this photo from the suite we had at the Phoenix International Raceway. It’s one of my favorite pics I ever took at a race.
Pit Crew members have to be in great shape to be on a team.
You’ll see them stretching and preparing before a race. Notice the silver trays taped down with red tape. I’ll discuss later in this post.
Conditioning is of the utmost importance for a Pit Crew Member.
In this photo, the 4 trays are yellow.
And people say these guys aren’t athletes, boo to them.
When I started out in Motorsports, the Pit Crews weren’t required to wear helmets.
Now every member of the Pit Crew going ‘Over the Wall’ must wear one.
A spinning tire on a race car could roll over some loose lug nuts on the road and launch them as a projectile. Helmets are valuable pieces of equipment.
Notice the radio receiver on the side of his helmet.
Now let’s talk a little about the fuel. Here are 2 Pit Crew members taking fuel cans for refill.
Now you can see how hard this would be with a very crowded Pit Road.
The specialized NASCAR fuel is Sunoco Green E15, a 98 octane, unleaded fuel blend specifically engineered for high-performance engines and race cars.
It’s called Green E15 because the racing fuel is actually green in color.
At race speeds, Cup Series cars get 2 to 5 miles per gallon.
After Pit Stops, there’s always a line at the Fuel Station.
Only a few years ago, NASCAR used leaded fuel in the cars that circled the racetrack each weekend.
However, in 2011 the sport made a significant change to the fuel used in its race cars, moving away from leaded fuel and turning to a greener, higher-performance option.
A NASCAR race car has a fuel cell in the trunk that holds 22 gallons of fuel, but that may change to 18 gallons in the near future.
Each Gas Can holds 11 gallons of fuel, so it takes 2 cans to fill up a race car.
Here’s a close up of the label on a Gas Can.
Now I’ll focus more on the tires. There’s 2 types of tires in a NASCAR race… Stickers and Scuffs.
These tires are Stickers because you can still see the new, white sticker on the tire.
This is a pic of the inner liner in every tire.
These tires are called Scuffs because the team drove them around the track during practice to break them in, so if the need called for a set of tires that were broken in, they’d have some.
These tire carriers are valuable in that they enable crew members to carry a set of 4 tires at one time.
I’ve almost been run over by one of these on Pit Road during a race.
Here are sets of Stickers and Scuffs. Notice the yellow tape.
This is a pic of the lug nuts already glued into place so the tire changer can tighten them up on the car quicker.
Now for the tape on the tire. The carriers use this tape to know where to grab the wheel in order to hang it correctly on the studs.
The good tire carriers can pick a tire up and hang it on the studs without having to spin it to line the holes up correctly. These tape marks help them find the right way to hold the tire to do so.
These are the trays or racks you saw earlier.
Do you have any idea what they’re for?
It’s 4 of them and I’m talking about tires so that’s a clue.
And here is what they’re for. Usually stickers are not lined up like this, because the tire trays are for tires that just came off of the car after a Pit Stop.
After a Pit Stop, a crew member will use a torch to scrape off all of the rubber accumulated when slowing down to come onto Pit Road.
After the little holes are exposed that run across the width of the tire, a crew member uses a device to measure the wear on the tire.
It takes a bit of time to clean all 4 tires to get ready to do this measurement.
The tires can pick up quite a bit of hot, sticky rubber when heading into the pits.
Here, one member scrapes while the other measures.
In this pic, you can see the tiny indentions in the tire that they use to measure wear.
Notice all of the little rubber bits stuck to the tires.
Most of the teams remove the air from the tires and replace it with nitrogen. Compressed nitrogen contains less moisture than compressed air.
When the tire heats up, moisture in the tire vaporizes and expands, causing the pressure inside the tire to increase.
Even small changes in tire pressure can noticeably affect the handling of the car.
By using nitrogen instead of air, the teams have more control over how much the pressure will increase when the tires heat up.
The teams can tell how the car is handling by looking at these numbers across the width of the tire.
Notice the difference between the inside and the outside of the tire… 68 to 65.
RR – Right Rear, RF – Right Front, LR – Left Rear, LF – Left front.
That’s 3 sets of 4 tires each at a cost of about $5,400.
Now you can really see the bits of rubber, from other cars, stuck to the tires after coming down Pit Road.
The rubber off of the race cars also accumulates under the race cars also. This can add weight to the car by the end of the race.
After the race is over, GoodYear collects all of the used and unused tires.
The Pit Crew members job consists of downtime chilling and an all out frenzy during the Pit Stops.
This pic is from Phoenix International Raceway.
Tires come in handy for seats also.
The Pit Crews always discuss what will happen during a Pit Stop.
Most times, they take 4 new tires and 2 cans of fuel, but sometimes it may be only 2 tires or just a splash of fuel.
In 12 to 14 seconds, seven people manage to completely refuel the car and change all four tires.
The Pit Crew members that go over the wall are: the front tire changer, the front tire carrier, the rear tire changer, the rear tire carrier, the jack man, the gas man and the gas catch can man.
During a race, the Pit Crew is responsible for changing tires, refueling, adjusting aerodynamics, checking and repairing parts, and getting the driver back on course in a matter of seconds
This member is the gas catch can man. More about that coming up.
The teams choose their Pit Stall by how they Qualify. The #1 Qualifier chooses first and so on.
This tape lets the driver know where to position his front left tire for the Pit Stop.
If the car is too close to the wall, the Jack man has a hard time lifting the car to change the tires on the left side.
A team will usually opt for a Pit Stall at the end of Pit Road to avoid traffic and save time getting off Pit Road.
The order of Qualifying is determined by a random drawing each race. Teams prefer to go later so they can see what time they need to win The Pole, #1 Qualifier.
The Jack is made of aluminum and weighs about 35 pounds. Considerably lighter than your average Shop Jack.
Once a Pit Crew member makes it on a regular basis with a Cup race team, and if they do, it usually takes three to four years.
The average salary is $80,000 to $120,000 a year. Pit Crew superstars can make anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 a year.
Each team has a Fitness Coach that works with the Pit Crew for about 2 or 3 days a week. They work on Strength and Conditioning Drills as well as Hand / Eye Drills.
They especially work on actual Pit Stops behind the shops.
Now for some info about NASCAR.
Each track is measured 15 feet inside the outside wall.
The Drive Shaft is 4″ in diameter and rules specify that they must be painted White.
This is so if it becomes dislodged and loose on the track, other drivers can see it better to try and avoid it.
Now for the Gas Man and the Gas Catch Can man. As I mentioned earlier, the car holds 22 gallons fo fuel and each Gas Can holds 11 gallons, so it takes 2 cans to fill up a car.
There’s a spout that sticks out the rear of the car, near the fueling port.
In this next photo, the guy holding the empty Gas Can, on the far right, is also holding the Gas Catch Can in place as the Gas Man pours the 2nd can of fuel into the car.
Here’s a better view of the Gas Catch Can Man in action.
When the car is full of fuel, the excess will spurt out the rear spout and into the Gas Catch Can. It’s important to account for every bit of fuel.
Here, the Gas Catch Can Man finishes pouring the 1st Gas Can while still holding the Gas Catch Can in place with his leg and the Gas Man is loaded with the 2nd Gas Can that weighs 94 pounds, so it’s not light.
After the Pit Stop, the Pit Crew removes the nozzles on the Gas Cans.
The Pirate in me loves this guy’s Eye Patch.
The reason they remove the nozzles is because they’ll pour the overflow fuel in the Gas Catch Can back into the Gas Can.
That way, every drop of fuel is accounted for. There’s what’s back in the Gas Can and what’s in the car.
Here you see them emptying the Gas Catch Can into the Gas Can.
They weighed the Gas Can when it was full before the Pit Stop. It should have been around 94 pounds.
After they consolidate all of the gas back into the Gas Can, they weigh it again. Now they know how much fuel went into the car exactly, thus being able to calculate when the car would need to come back for more fuel.
They say the most important man on the entire team is the cook, usually the Hauler Driver also.
I love Track Food. It always reminds me of the Carnival.
I’m no Vegan and that looks delicious.
The crews work hard on the cars all week long, building up to Race Day.
Sometimes not even a great Pit Crew can save a car.
It’s a good thing teams produce 20 or more cars for a full race season.
Some cars are built for short tracks, road courses or Super Speedways.
There’s not much that’s salvageable off of this car.
And now for some of the other crews at a race.
This photo was taken shortly after 9/11 and they had Bomb Dogs everywhere.
Always be nice to the Gate personnel.
This guy reminds me of a friend of mine.
The crew at Indy setting up the Brickyard 400 Trophy early in the morning.
Prior to a night race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Every race needs Fire Staff.
And NASCAR Inspectors.
Love the Flag.
This is a good photo of these NASCAR Officials.
More Safety Personnel.
My man, the Guard at the Gate to the Garage Area.
Taken at Texas Motor Speedway, no doubt.
Here’s another pic from right after 9/11. Notice the metal detectors everyone has to pass through.
More Bomb Dogs after 9/11.
In the Infield.
Another NASCAR Inspector.
He’s now being filmed by a TV crew because of his Flag on his helmet. Again, right after 9/11.
The Infield Crew at Texas Motor Speedway.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Blog Post. I had fun creating it. Lot’s of great memories as a Pit Tour Guide.
I hope you get to attend a race where you get to go on Pit Road during a race and see all of this stuff for yourself one day.
That completes this NASCAR 101 Course. Give yourself 3 Credits towards Graduation. Congratulations on your Quest for a Degree from The Universite de Arachnida.
To see other course requirements for your degree, see next link.
Any questions and/or comments may be directed to the following:
Dr. Spider Michaels, Phd.