As a crew member, I get asked a lot of questions by fans when I’m at the race track. I love answering questions because any chance to help somebody understand better what goes on is cool for me. I realized though that fans are asking a lot of the same questions from week to week. And that makes me think a lot of fans don’t fully understand all that is pit road. This post is the first in a series in which I will do my very best to explain all about pit road including preparation, rules, the anatomy of a pit stop, and a lot more. Do I think these posts are going to affect the amount of questions I get asked? Of course not. But I would like to use this as an opportunity to maybe educate some readers of our blog who may not know.
In this first installment of Pit Road Explained I will cover the commonly asked question of how we get the lugnuts to stay on the wheels.
Usually, about three hours before the green flag, tire changers will gather all their tires and prepare them for the race. During this preparation the wheels are cleaned thoroughly so there is no old glue, dirt, or oil residue on them, and the stud holes are cleaned with a wire brush.
When we start gluing up, we always use new lugnuts that have been chased with a thread chaser to make sure they will spin on the studs smoothly. We use new lugnuts because you don’t want an old, worn out lugnut to give you problems and possibly cost you a race. In order to make the lugnuts easy to see during a pit stop, a lot of guys will paint the face of them pink. The lugs are already painted yellow when we get them, but the bright pink stands out a little better.
And now the magic happens! The lugs are glued to the wheels using a weather-stripping adhesive commonly found in body shops. Okay, not really magical, but still kind of cool. This type of glue is used because it bonds well to both metal surfaces and its just slightly pliable. Glue that is brittle will make the lugs pop off when the tire is hung, and crew chiefs don’t like that very much. And, we glue up three hours before because it takes that long for the glue to set up properly.
To finish the whole process off, right before we are about to do a pit stop, I will spray a little bit of lubricant into each lug so they spin on and off easily.
I hope I was able to shed some light on the lugnut situation for those of you who didn’t know. If there is something you have seen during a pit stop that you would like to ask me about, feel free. I have many more topics to discuss in this series, but suggestions are always welcomed!