The Science of Sport: How NASCAR Teams Prep
It’s difficult to get your adrenaline pumping as much as it does with a heart-stopping race on the speedway. Most spectators spend much of their time with their eyes riveted to their favorite driver’s car. There is a lot of finesse that goes into prepping and handling a racecar, and the smallest oversight can have disastrous consequences. The racetrack is no place for the faint of heart. That’s why NASCAR teams go to such great lengths to protect their teams—for their driver’s success and for the safety of each team member. Here’s how NASCAR teams prep for a big race.
The first step is to make sure all of the proper equipment is ready to go. These teams essentially need to be a mobile mechanic shop. All of the needed tools are usually stored in the pit box where a few designated team members sit and monitor the condition of the car and driver. The tools include everything the team needs to switch out tires and make fast replacements or repairs during a pit stop. These tools can include an impact wrench, jack, piano bars, air compressor, fuel cans, duct tape, strong adhesive such as BearBond, saws, baseball bats, hammers, and extension poles with signal markers. While some of these might seem silly to have on hand, team members find a use for each and every one of these tools during a race, be it to hoist the car or just to hold parts together until the race is over.
Working around cars zooming past you at 200 mph is dangerous work, so team members need to have plenty of safety equipment on their person. Hearing protection is vital to preserving auditory capabilities, foam ear plugs are popular but many team members have headsets that can keep them in the loop when communicating what the driver needs and what to do to the car. The headsets are often housed in a helmet, providing every crew member with appropriate head protection.
The clothing NASCAR team members wear recently went under a guideline overhaul in response to some crew members who were hospitalized from a large pit-road fire. Over-the-wall personnel, or those who go out on the track to work directly on the racecars, must wear SFI Foundation-approved apparel that includes gloves, head socks, and underwear. This protects them from heat as well as the dangers posed through quick use of their tools.
Safety Is Always Kept in Mind
High-octane sports such as NASCAR racing are fun to watch, but there’s no shortage of safety concerns for the drivers and crew members. Having the proper tools and safety clothing and gear is essential for everyone to have the most fun at any race, win or lose. The next time you sit to watch a race, take the time to appreciate the preparation efforts each driver’s crew took to make the race possible.