Being a team member on a NASCAR Pit Crew can’t be that difficult, right? Change a few tires, move a jack around, play with a power tool or two, and make sure to do it all faster than the teams around you. You know I wouldn’t be mentioning this if I hadn’t learned first hand that it’s one of the most difficult, dangerous, and physically demanding jobs in sports.
If you’re not a fan of stock car racing, you might catch a bit of what NASCAR drivers and their pit crews experience if you’ve ever seen Cars 3 (now available on DVD/Blu-ray). The team and the job each member does might gain or lose the driver a few seconds, but those few seconds can be the difference between a win or a loss.
Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to not only ride a few high-speed laps around the famed Charlotte Motor Speedway, but I also underwent training at Pit Crew U. While I didn’t serve on an official crew during a NASCAR race, our training was just as intense even if it was for only one day.
The team at PIT Instruction & Training in Mooresville, NC – the heart of NASCAR – provides experiential education designed to teach the specific skills associated with a career as an over-the-wall pit crew team member in stock car motorsports. Participants must be at least 16 years old and, apparently, in far better physical condition than I.
Pit Crew U is the ideal start for those who seek professional employment in the motorsports industry. The program is both physically and mentally challenging, as I learned quickly.
Starting My Training As A Pit Crew Member
Of course, it had to be in the high 80s and, of course, we had to wear fire suits. While we weren’t in any danger and were closely supervised, the team at Pit Crew U wanted to make it as realistic and safe as they could for us.
We divided into teams of 5, each of us training in a specialty so that when our team came together, each of us knew our job; we only had to practice to learn how our job meshed with others’ jobs.
It was hot, it was physically demanding, but it was the most fun I’d had in a while! We would be timed as we ran through a gas tank fill up and 4-tire change. Then we would review our overhead video, see what we could improve upon, and run it again. Our team, Team Tight Nutz, had some pretty good times overall. In fact, in the final test, we came in second place!
How Our Pit Crew Team Did During Testing
The team at Pit Crew U also use the training to help corporate brands and small companies learn to work together as a team. And, I can definitely see how effective it would be!
It’s still amazing to me how fast we seem to move in real life, but then look incredibly slow during playback! Our best time was 1:03:65 which was among the best of the teams. But, did you know that the average NASCAR pit crew can do what we did inside of 12 seconds? We’re only slightly off that mark 😉
Hot Laps Around Charlotte Motor Speedway
Finally, and oddly 2 years after my husband raced around the track with Dale Jr., my turn came for a few high-speed laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway!
PIT Instruction and Training
Charlotte Motor Speedway