Responsible for performing key maintenance checks and changes in a high-pressure, high-stakes environment, today’s pit crew technicians truly double as athletes. Interested in taking a closer look at what you’d do as a member of a pit crew?
Curious hi-performance fans have come to the right place. Check out the following article by Automotive Training Center (ATC) for the lowdown on what goes on in the race pit and what skills you’ll need to gear up for a demanding yet thrilling position like this!
Pit Crew Basics
Supporting the driver at key intervals throughout the race, which could be as many as 500 laps, the average pit stop happens over the course of a fleeting 12-second stretch. There’s no room for error during this high-intensity maintenance run in which the car is fueled up, jacked up into the air, and tires are changed out from all four positions. For a full, scheduled pit stop in which all tires are replaced, there are six crew members allotted to participate.
The pit crew’s precision and timing is crucial to the safety and resulting performance of the driver on their team. In a competition where every millisecond counts, a speedy and successful pit change could be the difference needed to turn a race in the driver’s favor.
Pit Stop Strategy
Pit stop strategy differs by race and driver. Fuel level, tire wear, and total number of laps are by far the biggest factors that contribute to how many stops a team will choose to have. Since pit stop strategy isn’t set in stone and the need for an unforeseen pit could occur, crew members have to always be ready in a moment’s notice with their heads and muscles in the game.
Pit Crew Positions
Pit crew positions are traditionally split up by job and area of the car. Each member plays a vital role in getting the car fixed, fueled, and adjusted for the laps ahead.
A jackman sets the stage for all four tires to be removed and replaced by raising the car up with a 20-pound hydraulic jack, returning the car to the ground in between as changes are completed from right to left.
A rear tire carrier and rear tire changer work in tandem to get the back tires changed out in a flash. The changer swaps out the right rear tire using an air-powered impact wrench and the carrier hands down a new tire from over the pit wall. The changer and carrier then move to the left rear tire and do the same.
While the rear tires are being removed and replaced, a front tire carrier and front tire changer perform a procedure that mirrors the rear tire team’s on the front tires, first the right then the left.
While all of this is going on, a gas man hoists up and pours two 80-pound cans of fuel into the stock car’s fuel tank.
At the Starting Line of Pit Crew Training
Taking on a career as a pit crew member demands both mental and physical endurance. Masterful concentration, rapid dexterity, and the ability to think on your feet are three essential qualities that come naturally to crew members. But before these elite performance technicians are able to earn their stripes, they must master the basics first, calling on the skills they learned forwards and back during their time as automotive technicians in training.
Interested in learning more about a pit crew member’s career path? Find out about the hi-performance racing parts crew members deal with on race day and get to know a little more about ATC’s Hi-Performance Technology Program.