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Posted by on Apr 9, 2018 in Nascar |

The NASCAR Life: The Job

Written by Journo on

The positions available in the sport are as varied as the people who work in them. Like any professional sports team there is a front office that handles the business side of things. There are accountants, account managers, PR people, travel coordinators and countless other positions. For the most part, these are the positions that have normal 9-5 hours with some weekend travel time (obviously if you work PR you are traveling every weekend). Despite the normality of these positions, they are not easy to come by and for the most part there is nothing overly glamorous about them. Sure you get to go to the track every now and then and interact with the drivers, but you still have deadlines to make and bosses to make happy.

Down on the shop floor there are mechanics, body guys, engineers, paint guys and many others. These positions are the ones that are highly specialized and require a good deal of knowledge about race cars. The people who work these jobs work a lot of hours and are at the beckon call of a crew chief and many others above them. During the season these guys often work 50 or more hours. They have cars to get ready and often not a lot of time to do it.

That leaves us finally with the on-the-road guys. The mechanics, pit crews and hauler drivers are the ones who bring the race (or circus as we like to call it) to the fans week after week. TC earlier put the spotlight on the hauler drivers and daily shows the ups and downs of working on a pit crew. These guys and gals are some of the most dedicated people you would ever hope to find. Many work 40 hours a week at the shop and then spend their weekends at the track. They spend very little time at home and often times are forced to give up a lot to continue their careers.

Recently I went to lunch with some guys who work for a race team and a trait that I often see within my own family emerged. Everyone complained about how much they hated their jobs and how it was great when they were at Roush, or Hendrick, or Yates but the team they work for now stinks. It is something that always makes me laugh a little, because they all do it and I suppose it is something most people do at any job. They say “The job’s okay, but it could be better.”

So lets talk money. I would guess many who dream of careers in the sport picture fat paychecks and awesome bonuses. While this is not entirely untrue, for the most part the money isn’t all that great. Lets say for instance you drive hauler for a team during a championship year, there is a good chance you’ll make very low six figures, but if your driving hauler for any other team in a normal year (which is most everybody) you won’t be making anywhere near that kind of money. Bonuses are pretty common among large teams and if they have a good year, you’ll get a good bonus. On average they’ll be in the mid to high single thousand dollars, obviously more if a championship is won. Despite this, very rarely is overtime paid and almost always overtime work is not the exception, but the rule. A good living can be made in the sport, but generally not more so than in any other industry.

Not long ago, a guy I know who drives hauler told me about being at an event with the truck when a girl walked up to him. She said, “you must have the best job ever. What do you do, just drive to the track?” He laughingly said, “yeah thats about it.” The fact of the matter is, his job is almost neverending, be it cooking cleaning or driving, he never sits still.

So whats the moral of this story? Despite how cool it may seem, it’s just a job. Sure these guys have a lot of fun and enjoy a great comradery, but at the end of the day, they work their butts off and don’t enjoy a whole lot of benefits. Like anything though racing is something that gets in your blood and no matter how much they may say it, they wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. If this all still sounds appealing to you, get in line because you’re not the only one.

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Posted by on Apr 2, 2018 in Nascar |

A Salute to the Midway Madness

Written by Journo on

Outside the race track every weekend the village of souvenirs, car displays and sponsor tents appear seemingly out of nowhere. They offer samples of sun screen, chewing tobacco, and Coca-Cola. You can even play video games, or test your skill as a member of a pit crew. Whatever your pleasure, the city of tents and trailers serve a pivotal part of any weekend and it is only with the hard work of perhaps the most under appreciated men and women at the track that the midway is so flawlessly executed.

As we have said here before, NASCAR is much like a circus, in town to entertain, but quickly moved to the next venue. This is perhaps most true of the people who work in what I will call the midway. For 36 weekends a year they make sure sponsors are happy and fans fulfilled. They provide entertainment when none is happening at the track, and give fans a place to spend their hard earned souvenir money. They also provide a place for sponsors to showcase their product and connect with their supporters. Their hard work enhances the fan experience, with little benefit.

Team members are a visible part of the NASCAR world, and have TV segments and entire websites dedicated to them. When was the last time you saw a roster with the names of midway workers on it, or watched a segment on Fox saluting their efforts? It does not happen. They often work non-stop for several days to make sure the displays best represent their team or sponsor only to tear it down and begin anew in another city.

While crew members and transport drivers are able to pack up and fly, or drive immediately home, many of these people have to spend hours deconstructing a display that may have been up for less time than it took to build. I remember a couple seasons ago the Sprint (or Nextel) fan display was actually built out of large glass panels (see the above picture). It took at least a full day for that team to set up and then they were working immediately after the race to deconstruct. Following that they would have to transport those materials to the next venue. Not to mention they worked the fan zone during the whole race weekend. Their story though is not unlike the many others who make the midway possible.

Be it the Chevrolet display, one of the scanner companies or the many souvenir haulers, each and every person gives up a lot just to be at the race track every weekend. In fact, most of these people do not ever get to see races from inside the track. They are cleaning up or leaving while the race is going on. Many spend nine months of the year away from their friends and families, for little compensation, all in pursuit of the NASCAR dream.

I challenge everyone to thank the people who make the midway possible next time they are at the track. They work hard to build displays and then in turn to enhance your at track experience. Do you have any stories of your midway experience? What is your favorite display? How did a midway worker enhance your weekend?

1 Comment on “A Salute to the Midway Madness”

  1. #1 SearsPointer
    on Aug 5th, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Speed did “7 Days” episode two years ago that was dedicated to one of the guys who manages the merchandise haulers. I don’t remember any names, but it was a great little eye opener along the lines of what you describe here.

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Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in Nascar |

Nascar Tires

While I love racing and especially Nascar, I wonder about all the tires used.

The average Nascar driver used between 9 and 14 sets of tires a race.

That’s between 36 and 56 tires in total used.

There’s typically 43 cars in a race and if you multiply that the numbers are 1548 and 2408 tires for all the cars. Drivers are asking for better tires from Goodyear. I’m sure its because tire changes take time and can lose you a race.

I’m more concerned with how these tires are effecting our landfills and where they are going. Just seems like too much of a waste for a sport. So, I did a little digging because this was really weighing on me. I really love this sport and Mother Earth also. Liberty Tire is the official tire recycler of Nascar.

They make sure all those tires get recycled and turned to good use after the Nascar races.

They head to the recycling center in Concord, North Carolina. Each year there is approximately 300,000 tires recycled. That is an incredible number.

Thankfully with this recycling they are keeping these tires out of the landfill. They are ground down to specific sizes and then shipped off to specific places that requested those sizes. Some are shipped and processed into fuel for broiler furnaces.

Some get recycled into rubber mulch and then distributed around the trees at the Nascar track.

So cool, now you have a little back story about that mulch!!

The rubber mulch is also used at playgrounds.

It holds its color for 12 years and doesn’t hold water so it doesn’t rot. The recycled tires make their way into rubberized pavement also. There is more research here and its making its way around the highways of our country.

Nascar even hopes that its track can be made out of this rubber in the future. It helps keep the rainwater off the road and reduces road noise. I’m so glad I did a little digging. Now I can relax and concentrate a lot more on the race and not the waste of tires.

In Sonoma County CA, NASCAR Teams Complete Goodyear Tire Test at Sonoma Raceway

 

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