So you have finally gotten done with the race at Homestead and the banquet is behind you. Nine months of constant travel and 50 hour weeks have come to an end and a three month vacation is headed your way. Think again! The work for your next season is just beginning and it is a long road to Daytona at the end of February. From testing to media, professional sport’s longest season really never comes to an end.
From the hauler drivers to the mechanics testing is a way of life for the guys who make the cars go and get them where they need to be. In the off season this is even more the case as teams take new innovations and mechanical improvements and fine tune them for their regular season programs. These test sessions occur all over the country at NASCAR sanctioned (and unsanctioned) tracks and at wind tunnels from Mooresville to Detroit. The schedule is about as hectic and busy as the regular season.
Back in the shop, everyone is working to turn over cars for the next season. Whether it is a new paint scheme or new body style the teams must be ready to change with their manufacturers and sponsors. This can be as little as removing some decals or as extreme as completely rebuilding the fleet. This was of course the case with the Car of Tomorrow (or Today). While they did have a chance last season to begin building the new cars, the off season was the time to complete the switch.
For the front office, the neverending season un-ravels work from the previous season, starting the cycle all over again. Drivers are paraded in front of sponsors and taken to appearances all around the country. Media professionals pitch stories, setting the tone for the next season and putting into place the story lines that will dominate the preseason. New merchandise is designed and approved and the old stuff is sold off at severely discounted prices.
Those in the market for a new job in the sport make their transitions this time of year. This team personnel silly season occurs every year as better positions become available and teams move people around. While this is not to say moves do not occur during the season, the largest migrations go down when the season has come to an end.
Despite the NASCAR season only running from February to November, it truly never comes to an end. While the offseason means more time at home, it does not mean there is less work to do, or to be done. These multi-million dollar organizations require constant upkeep, without which they would not be able to run or be competitive. For the men and women that keep this sport going, the job never has an off season.