What's Your Pit Crew IQ?


By: Deane Kimerer

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

NASCAR may seem like a solitary sport, with lone wolf drivers riding solo lap after lap, but behind every great racer going 200 mph is an entire support crew. Likewise Formula One is a team sport, where the driver depends on such a group. Known as the pit crew, this group of professionals operates under a carefully choreographed chaos, speeding through basic maintenance tasks and sending the driver back out to find the finish line.

In a single pit stop, the crew might have to change all four tires, fill the gas tank, clean the grill and windshield and make any necessary adjustments to the vehicle -- all in around 12 seconds! A split-second mistake or hesitation can not only cost the driver precious seconds, but may also leave him more vulnerable to safety issues or crashes. Even more impressive, the pit crew manages all this while donning bulky fireproof suits, helmets and other safety gear.

Do you know the difference between a jack man and a tire changer, or when pit crews can break out the "extra man" without penalty? If you think you know everything about the skilled workers who service the world's fastest cars, take our quiz to test your pit crew IQ!

What key duties are involved in a pit stop?

The "gas man" and the "gas catch man" deal with the fuel, while the tire specialist, tire carrier, spotter, and jackman are some of the members of the crew for tire changes.


Are all four tires routinely changed during a pit stop during a race?

Crews take out the air and replace it with nitrogen as it has less moisture. All four are replaced due to the heat and wear during races. Tires have inner liners with separate air supplies. This way, the driver can control the car if the outer tire blows.


How much fuel does a fuel can weigh?

The gas man carries typically two gas cans which are 180 pounds total. There is a gas catch man as well in case any gas overflows or spills. The science of how much fuel to start off with is complicated as too much weighs down the car making it slower and too little makes the driver stop earlier.


What is the typical turn-around time for cars to get in and out of a pit for routine functions?

Hand-eye coordination is essential for the kind of speed needed to get a car back on the track, not to mention being in great shape to be able to jump the wall and sprint to and from the car.


What kind of tool is used to remove a racing car's tires by the wrench man?

Lug nuts are tightened down with the 16 pound tool that has 1,450 pounds of torque and can remove five nuts per tire in one second.


What are some of the other jobs of a pit crew?

There are more people involved with a pit crew than the seven (eight in longer races) who jump the wall when the race car comes in quickly during the race. Usually, the number goes up to approximately 30 people.


What type of training does a pit crew member need to join a pit crew for NASCAR?

Taking an automotive class at a community college to know how to work on all parts of a car is helpful. Training certificates can help, too. Jeff Hammond's PIT school is 8 weeks long and teaches each role in the pit crew, so each person knows what others on their crew does. NASCAR Tech Institute teaches in 15 weeks.


How well does a pit crew member get paid?

Chiefs can make $150,000 - $1,000,000, depending on how well their drivers did in races, bonuses, and their experience. Crews can make $30,000-90,000 depending on their role and experience.


Is it true that lug nuts are already placed on the tire when the NASCAR car rolls into the pit?

The adhesive is on each lug nut to hold it into place along with a weight, so they don't fall off before the tool is used to seal them onto the tires.


How many crew members are typically hired to be a on a pit crew?

It was six and in 2018, it will be limited to five, for the key pit crew members who jump the wall to change tires, refuel and make any fast adjustments needed. Overall, there wasn't a limit to the entire crew, but it was usually about 30 people, which will now be limited to 12 for the road crew.


What signal does a race car driver do after a crash to indicate that he/she is alive?

This move of lowering the net helps the emergency crew know that the driver is alive.


Why is there a new policy effective 8/15/14 of NASCAR race car drivers not being allowed to get out of their vehicles unless extreme conditions (fire, smoke) within the car exist?

Tony Stewart struck Ward as he was on the track in NY in 2014, killing him after Stewart's car clipped Kevin Ward Jr.'s and Ward had gotten out of his car in the caution period.


Is it common for pit crews and/or drivers to have family in the racing industry?

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Sr. are one example (Sr. died in a crash). Adam, Lee and Richard Petty are another set of grand-father/father/son drivers who stayed in the field (Richard is the only surviving race car driver).


Are pit crews' clothing anti-flammable?

Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s death brought more safety to NASCAR. Most drivers also wear a heat shield below their shoes due to the heat of the engine.


What do helmets in NASCAR do for the drivers?

Protection is key in NASCAR. Helmets anchor to connect to a H.A.N.S device to reduce neck injuries and concussions and overall safety from injuries. Helmets have radio connection for communication between the driver and his/her crew. Also, the helmets have visors to help reduce the sun's glare.


Who does the driver talk to on radio during a race?

Guidance is needed from all three sources during a race. Pit crew members, competition manager, engineers and specialists can also get on the radio for quick decisions needed regarding the car. Fans can listen in on some of these conversations. In the old days, chalkboards and hand signals were used to communicate.


Has anyone ever been charged in a track incident?

Tony Stewart ended up not being charged in Kevin Ward Jr.'s 2014 death after he was rumored to possibly be charged. Stewart was banned from racing in NASCAR Cup the last two years plus due to injuries and Kevin Ward Jr.'s death.


Do pit crews match the driver's uniform and/or match one another?

It keeps the crew safe so the driver can recognize his/her team in the pit, as well as the pit crew being able to see their team members more easily. And, the crew and driver all have sponsors, so this is important to them as well.


Who was the first female crew pit member?

Christmas Elliott is petite crossfit athlete; it helps her speed and agility in her crew pit duties.


How long is a NASCAR season?

NASCAR starts the racing season in February and ends in November, lasting 10 months.


Who is one of the best known pit crew chiefs?

Dale Inman has won 50 times in Daytona. Other big names are Leonard Wood, Ray Evernham, Harry Hyde, Kirk Shelmerdine, Chad Knaus, Kenny Francis, Jimmy Fennig, and Paul Wolfe.


Have any pit crew members publicly had brawls similar to other sports, such as hockey or football?

There have been some brawls due to drivers believing or experiencing other drivers hitting their vehicles, which affects their chances of winning the race, hence affecting their and their teams' salaries.The top five fights are: Yarborough/Allison, Burton/Gordon, Stewart/Logano, Gordon/Keselowski, and Harvick/Biffel.


Were changes made in 2014 to ban cool-down laps after qualifying attempts?

Instead, teams will add cooling units to their engines with hood flaps to help their engines cool down after their qualifications.


In which race, is mid-race refueling banned?

Pit stops in Formula One are for changing tires as of 2010 and no mid-race refueling is allowed. It was allowed between the years of 1994-2009.


Are there new rules for NASCAR in 2018?

Some changes are that the pit crews within the pit have to show individual numbers exhibited on their arms for identification. There will be limits on who travels on a team as well (3-4 organizational, 12 road crew, 5 pit crew for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and 1 organizational member, 7 road crew and 5 pit crew on NASCAR Infinity Series).


Who is the oldest NASCAR driver in US history?

Jim Fitzgerald, 65 in 1987 and Morgan Shepherd at 71 in 2013 in Sprint Car Series; NASCAR doesn't have an age limit as long as the basic physical exam of the driver is passed.


Does an air compressor blow air during NASCAR races?

Nitrogen is used due to the heat and cold at a race, both of the tires and the weather. Nitrogen works better with moisture and temperature changes. The air is taken out of the tires and nitrogen is put into them before a race begins so the tires are ready to go.


Has a pit crew member ever died while performing pit crew duties?

In 1998, Adam Petty's crew chief, Bradley was accidentally crushed by Adam Petty as the car was lowered too soon and Adam ran over him. In 2010, Randy Owens, on Richard Petty's crew died when the top of the water tank blew off due to pressure and sent him flying in the air injuring his heart. In 1990, Ricky Rudd accidentally hit Mike Rich as he spun out on a pit road.


How many tools are at a pit crew's fingertips?

There are many tools to perform the needed duties of a pit crew. 10 essential tools are known, though: Air gun (impact wrench), air compressor (nitrogen filled), jack, piano bars, fuel cans, duct tape, bear bond, hammers/baseball bats/saws and extension poles (for signal markers to locate pits).


Are there two pit crew shops, one close to the pit and one further away?

One is for at the moment needs and one further away is for the days of the week chosen to work on the vehicle.


Are there volunteers for pit crews who can provide assistance?

The pit crew chief decides who is on his pit crew team. And yes, they time and test pit crew members.


Who hires a pit crew?

Decisions lay at the pit crew chief's feet in many ways, which is why there is a turnover rate of approximately 40% each year and why they get paid the highest salary among the pit crew.


Who pays for NASCAR cars?

130 of the 500 Fortune 500 companies are NASCAR sponsors. They include Budweiser, M&Ms, Office Depot, Tylenol, Craftsman Tools.


Do pit crews have an union?

So far, there aren't unions in NASCAR.


What is the pit crew challenge?

It was canceled in 2013 due to lack of sponsors.


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