I am going to start this post by telling you I have no feelings for Ryan Newman as a driver. Honestly, I have never really paid him that much attention- besides to perhaps make fun of his name in a grand SEINFELDian joke and snicker. That being said a week or two ago I stumbled across HELLO NEWMAN on YahooSport’s NASCAR page. It’s a regular weekly column written by Ryan Newman. I find it rather interesting. So you might want to check that out.
Anyway- I am using this as a rather long segue into my topic of pit crews because this week’s HELLO NEWAN is called IN THE PITS and it is actually written by Ryan’s rear tire carrier Trent Cherry- that gives a brief look to readers about what it is like to be part of a pit crew. It’s a fascinating read (or it was to me…but maybe I am a freak). My favorite quote from Mr. Cherry’s article was this:
My job is the rear-tire carrier. We’re not that cool. We’re like the guys who can grab rebounds – role players. The changers – the guys who put on a take off the lug nuts – are the cool guys.
That being said- I have always been fascinated by pit crews and pit stops as long as I can remember (remember I have been a race fan since I was knee high to a grasshopper). It amazes me that it takes them 13 – 15 seconds to get a full tank of gas and four tires (and sometimes a window tear off, grill cleaning, and driver hydration) when it takes me four hours to get my oil changed, my tires rotated, and an outside only carwash (and yes I do realize it doesn’t really take them four hours to do it but I can be darn sure it took them longer than 15 seconds to do it).
Pit stops to me always seemed like a synchronized dance of sorts. Everyone has a part and knows exactly where they are suppose to be when. One person trips up and it can cause other members to trip up. I remember the first race I ever attended was an Indy car race in the 90s- before they split into champ and IRL. My dad laid out a ton of money and got him and I really cool seats right off of turn 11 at Laguna Seca. He wanted to sit there because it was the bottom of the hill and you could see the cars coming all the way down the hill (this was before they built suites above the garages so now the view isn’t as spectacular). Anyway I loved the seats for a completely different reason. I could watch the pit stops! It gave me a healthy respect and fascination with the crew members- second only to the time we got to spend walking around the paddock area in the morning watching the crews buzz in and out of their areas working on this and that.
When I was younger I wanted to BE on a pit crew because how exciting would that be? Of course I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be…the Jackman looked pretty important…if you can’t get the car up off the ground you can’t get tires on it right? But I didn’t have the upper body strength for that. Same for tire carriers. Changer looked fun…plus you get to play with that air wrench thingy….but that always seemed like on of the more stressful jobs on the crew and frankly I am not that graceful. I decided gasman wasn’t where I should be because well- frankly-gas can start fires and fire scares the freaking daylights out of me (you should see me on BACKDRAFT at Universal Studios…I bruised my friend’s arm trying to get the hell outta there when they start exploding the stuff). As you can tell…this really doesn’t leave much room for me. Spotters fascinated me. Only problem with being a spotter? Is they are usually perched high up somewhere…and I am afraid of heights (although If I had to chose between gasman and spotter…I would probably choose spotter because I think I could get over my fear of heights much faster than I could get over my fear of fire). Spotters still fascinate me to this day and it is one of the few redeeming qualities about DirecTV NASCAR HOTPASS (I have a whole other post about this in the works) is being able to hear driver/crew chatter (I tend to turn it to team radio only because the announcers tend to bug the crap outta me because they talk over the most important radio chatter). I couldn’t be crew chief really so I would probably be stuck being one of the note takers or something (I always did take meticulous notes in school).
Anyway, I also found another interesting and recent article about pit crew on the Daily Dose called ONE FOR THE BOYS. If, like me, you are fascinated by pit crews you may want to check it out.