When you watch a race on TV, or see one in person, certain people get the spotlight. The drivers of course, are at the top of this list. Everyone knows them. Team personnel are next, with crew chiefs and a few select crew members getting most of the notoriety. You will also probably notice the presence of the NASCAR officials, whether you know their names or not. There are a few groups however, that get little if any air time, and frankly, go on busting their butts anyway.
In order to have a race that goes longer then about 75 miles, two important supplies are necessary: fuel and tires.
At every race, Goodyear Racing brings an army of guys who’s sole job is to do nothing but handle every race tire used. Truck loads of tires are brought in, along with the teams’ wheels, and these guys work their tails off all weekend mounting and dismounting tires. Each tire must be unloaded, scanned into their system, paired with a wheel, mounted, balanced, and organized. Once it has served it’s purpose, a tire must be rescanned, drilled (to avoid any future use), dismounted, and loaded back up to be recycled.
Goodyear does all this through their small network of regional tire distributors and the aid of Champion Tire and Wheel. Champion’s trucks haul all of the used tires, plus they handle all of the teams’ wheels (with their own small army).
During the race weekend, while workers are handling all the tires, Goodyear also has a team of engineers that work very closely with the teams to ensure proper usage and to monitor any problems.
Besides tires, no race would get very far without race fuel. Sunoco, being the official fuel of NASCAR, is tasked with providing the teams with enough race gas to practice, qualify, and race. While their team of people is much smaller than that of Goodyear, their function is no less important. On the busiest of weekends, enough fuel must be brought in to supply upwards of 150 race teams.
Besides being on hand to fill up the tanks during practice sessions and qualifying, Sunoco has a team of guys that fill every gas can during the race. Once a pit stop ends, fuel runners for each team will take any emptied cans by cart to the Sunoco pumps. There, Sunoco’s guys refill the cans so they can be used during the next stop. Once the race is over, teams then must return any unneeded fuel to Sunoco to be reclaimed.
There are two other groups that I also wanted to point out that serve very important functions.
First, two companies handle the majority of at track radio communications for NASCAR and the teams. Racing Radios and Racing Electronics have people on hand at every race to help support the teams. Their teams can supply and repair any of the radios or components needed by race teams so they can be in constant communication during the practices and the race. While the races are going on, both companies have techs that do nothing but wander up and down pit road, ready to fix any problems.
The last group I wanted to recognize are the TV production folks. In order for NASCAR to appear on FOX, ESPN, TNT, and SPEED, a large corps of producers, audio techs, camera people, production assistants, editors, and more must be at every race. Besides the networks themselves, companies like Game Creek Video, NEP Broadcasting, Broadcast Sports, and others have people and equipment that aid in bringing racing into your home. During the races, we are shoulder to shoulder with camera people, the assistants, and the pit road reporters who bring you all the latest information.
The next time you get to attend a race in person, on any level, be sure to take a moment to look around. There are more then just race teams at work bringing you the show.