Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NASCAR Tools of the Trade

Just a few of the tires
I did not know what to expect when I went to the NASCAR event in Las Vegas, especially around the Neon Garage Pit Pass I bought. The map showed that I could go to an area that had the team garages around it. There were windows that you could look in and see what was going on in the garages, and the drivers could open part of the window to sign autographs. I enjoy watching the crews working on the cars as much as watching the race, so I wasn't sure that being able to look through a window would exactly cut it.

Body Repair tools
I discovered that indeed you can only look into the garages through a window, but there are actually three windows including two that allow you to look from above giving a very good view of garage action. After watching this for a while I started wandering the area, and discovered that was actually allowed to go out onto the area behind pit road. During practice this put you in position to see the cars coming and going from the garage. Then on race day, I found the pits road again open, but because there were no cars on the track, we were allowed to wander up and down the actual pit area. The Sprint Cup teams were preparing for the race, and although the cars were mostly still in the garage stalls, the crews were out here making everything was ready for the race.

Gluing the lugs in
The track officials do a good job here, allowing fans to see what goes on and to let them get as close to the action as possible without compromising the safety of teams, drivers, and fans. It is good to allow the fans to walk up and down the pit areas and see what goes on. It makes they more interested and promotes the sport. It would have been easier to just keep these area closed, so that people did not have to be moved away when the race starts, and I'm sure that some of the teams would rather be able to get ready without a crowd of people wandering by, but the organizers obviously realize that keeping fans excited and interested is a big part of the sport.

Room for everyone
What a nut!
Each team has a “Pit Box” that is a large tool box/trailer on wheels with all the tools, and other things needed during the race. Most have an area on top for the crew chief to sit and direct the action, and they all have active satellite feeds to the major networks covering the race so they can get those nice close-up of the cars that their spotters can't see. In addition they have laptops and computers to monitor the cars and the race. Behind this there were rows and rows of tires all lined up and ready to go. In most pits there was a crew member glueing a set of lug-nuts into each wheel so that four tires could be removed and new ones installed in 14 seconds.

Now this was interesting. This is what I like to see. Some folks say that NASCAR is boring because the cars just go round and round in circles, but there is much more to it than that. A walk through the pit area and you see all the activity and planning that allows these cars to do all that boring circling of the track. When you see all the tools and tricks involved in the preparing and maintaining these temperamental beasts (The cars, not the drivers . . . . ), you get the complete picture and can really appreciate the sport of NASCAR.


  1. Now, the pits I could enjoy. I would also thoroughly enjoy one turn of the cars around the track, and then I'd be among the bored. I know I'd be interested in the prepping and maintenance of the cars, though.

  2. Love the pics... It looks like you are truly enjoying this birthday present! Hugs to Regis