Pit Crews: The Unsung Heroes of Racing

Pit Crews: The Unsung Heroes of Racing Ever see a pit crew in action? What this crew can do at a full-blown pit stop in 12 seconds is nothing short of astounding: Change four tires, add a full tank of gas, wipe the grill clean and make minor adjustments to the car. Can you tie your shoes in 12 seconds? Ready, set, go.

So who are these super humans that work in the race shop? Well no longer is it just rounding up a few guys from the shop down the street. The pit crews of today are collegiate athletes, many of whom played other sports, e.g. hockey, football players, baseball players and track performers. There is a level of perfection that is expected that these former athletes understand. And like an athlete, the pit crew has to practice.
 

The race week starts on Tuesday where pit crews review video of their first three stops in the previous race, followed by a practice round and then they repeat the process until every moment has been examined. Wednesday practices are track specific, while Thursdays focus on synchronicity in the pit and team bonding. On Friday crew members rest and Saturday they arrive at the track, because come Sunday, it’s not practice anymore.

“I’ve always said that as a team, what we do together to build confidence overpowers any individual ability we might have.”

— Ryan Newman

So what are the specific duties required of a pit crew member? Here’s how it breaks down:

1. Rear Tire Carrier
This crew member assists the rear tire changer by handing him a new, right-side tire he has carried from behind the pit wall. He may also adjust the rear jack bolt to change the car's handling. He repeats the process on the left side of the car.

2. Rear Tire Changer
The rear tire changer first removes and replaces the right rear tire using an air-powered impact wrench to loosen and tighten five lug nuts holding the tire rim in place. He then moves to the opposite side of the car to change the left rear tire.

3. Jackman
The jackman operates a 20-pound hydraulic jack that is used to raise the car for tire changes. After new tires are bolted onto the right side of the car, he drops the car to the ground and repeats the process on the left side.

4. Front Tire Carrier
This crew member assists the front tire changer by handing him a new, right front tire that he has carried from behind the pit wall. He repeats the process on the left side of the car.

Pit Crew5. Front Tire Changer
The front tire changer first removes and replaces the right front tire using an air-powered impact wrench to loosen and tighten five lug nuts holding the tire rim in place. He then moves to the opposite side of the car to change the left front tire.

6. Gas Man
The gas man empties two 12-gallon (81 pounds each) dump cans of fuel into the car's 17.75-gallon fuel cell.

7. Support Crew
This crew assists the “over the wall” crew by rolling them tires, handing them fuel, and retrieving air hoses and wrenches. According to NASCAR rules, support crew members must remain behind the pit wall during all stops.

8. Extra Man
On occasion, and at the discretion of NASCAR officials, a seventh or “extra man” is allowed over the wall to clean the windshield and assist the driver if necessary.

So the next time you’re tuning into a race, check out the other athletes on the track. Because while the most powerful tool a driver has is his/her car, the car wouldn’t survive even one race without the care it gets from the pit crew.

Source: The Anatomy of a Pit Stop, NASCAR.com

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