Although that would be really nice, it just isn’t true. There was a piece written by Dustin Long that came out on Monday that revealed some numbers about a specific crew member’s pay. And while numbers like these are a reality for some, it certainly isn’t the standard.
Former Roush Fenway Racing employee Jason Myers is suing RFR over his termination in early 2009, and as part of the court documents filed, details about his compensation were revealed. Myers was at one time the car chief on Carl Edwards #99 Cup car. According to the information obtained by Long, Myers could have made a little over $140,000 in salary alone for the 2008 season. Including bonuses and other compensation, that number could have easily been over $150,000.
That sounds all well and good, but don’t believe for a second that $100K paychecks are the norm for crew members in the sport. Guys in the position that Myers was in, as in a car chief for a major team, do make good money. And for good reason. They are really second in command under the crew chief and are basically the lead mechanic.
But most mechanics, both in the shop and on the road, don’t make that much. Obviously the pay is better for guys on bigger teams, and if someone is able to serve more then one function (such as wrenching and going over the wall), they are more valuable. Pay will also (usually) be better the higher the series one works in.
As team owners have learned how to run their race teams as actual businesses over the years, many have realized that certain positions need to be well compensated, and others don’t. They are no different then other, more conventional companies. The management is always going to make more money then the mailroom guys. Racing is no different.
Just to give you some comparison on how wide the range is between employees, I know of shop employees at major teams making $800 a week, while many crew chiefs at the Cup level are clearing $500,000 a year just in base salary. That is quite a big disparity.
And to take this even further, some crew members at the lower levels of NASCAR competition are earning as little as $300 or $400 a week.
So while the information in the Myers/RFR lawsuit is certainly interesting to look at, don’t think that everybody working in racing is pulling back that kind of cash. It is certainly something to aspire to, but most in racing earn much more modest salaries that are on par with the majority of American workers.