8 Tools You'll Find in Every NASCAR Pit Stop
Whichever your favorite sport might be, there is no denying that attending a NASCAR race is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can imagine. The ridiculous speeds, the insanely huge crowds and the overall excitement make the atmosphere absolutely electric no matter the track.
And while the drivers and their cars are (deservedly) the main attraction, there is another player on the NASCAR stage, a player that ensures the show goes on no matter what. This is the pit stop, the lifeblood of NASCAR where mechanics and the crew work tirelessly to enable their team to do as well as possible in the actual race.
For anyone who is in the least mechanically inclined, the NASCAR pit stop is the ultimate garage. As we all know, every garage needs its tools and the NASCAR garage is a special mix of high and low tech.
For example, the tool that is probably the most utilized one in a NASCAR pit stop is the common duct tape. Many NASCAR mechanics joke that duct tape keeps the whole rodeo going as it is used for literally anything you can think of. It is used to cover the smaller holes that can appear during the race and to connect parts of the body that might have become separated and could have dire consequences for downforce and airflow. Duct tape is also used to do work under the hood as various hoses and wires get disconnected or loose.
It sounds almost silly, but common duct tape is actually the Swiss army knife of any NASCAR pit stop which is probably why you can buy NASCAR-themed duct tape.
While your common duct tape has virtually innumerable uses in NASCAR, there will come a time when it will not suffice. When an entire body panel starts hanging off a car after a particularly violent bit of racing, the pit stop crew will invariably prepare a few rolls of Bear Bond. As you might imagine, Bear Bond was originally a brand name, but nowadays, it is a generic term used for a particularly adhesive kind of durable tape that is used for major body work in NASCAR.
Bear Bond was developed in the late 1990s and, since then, it has become a staple of mechanic crews in all kinds of automotive sports – from 24 Hours of Le Mans to Grand-Am and, of course, NASCAR. The sponsors often lose their minds as Bear Bond tape gets over their ads, but it is all about keeping the car in one piece.
An Array of Blunt Objects
A NASCAR car will get bumped and dented over the course of a single race and while some of it can be ignored, these bumps and dents soon start affecting the aerodynamics of the vehicle and the amount of downforce produced. In other words, they start affecting the speed of the car and they need to be addressed.
While your car will need to go to a specialized mechanic who will use special kinds of tools (and charge you a fortune), NASCAR crews have a much simpler approach to this particular problem. In essence, they grab a hold of one from an array of blunt objects such as baseball bats and hammers and they start working over the car. It may seem like brute banging, but it is nothing like that.
It takes a lot of finesse to bump out a dent, believe it or not.
While we are on the subject of crude tools that NASCAR pit crews use all the time, we mustn't fail to mention extension poles. The use of these poles is so common for a very simple and bureaucratic reason, actually. Namely, NASCAR limits the number of pit crew members that can come over the pit wall and work on a car during any given race. The solution? Get a big pole and work from behind the wall.
Doesn't get any simpler than that.
These poles are used to direct the drivers to the correct area where their car will be serviced, to get refreshments to the drivers and to clean the windshield and the grille if need be.
In case you ever watched Formula 1 races, you probably noticed the massive hoses being used to refuel the cars in the pit stop. These high-tech hoses get locked in and they refuel the F1 car in matter of seconds.
NASCAR has a more down-to-earth approach and they use good old-fashioned fuel cans to refuel the cars. Besides fuel cans, there are also catch cans which are placed underneath during refueling, for the purposes of catching spilt or overflowing fuel. Handling the cans is an extremely important job and one that carries a ton of responsibility.
NASCAR tires receive a brutal treatment during a race (which is why they are
completely different from road tires) and one of the pit crews' biggest responsibilities is changing tires in as little time as humanly possible.
Of course, in order to do so, NASCAR pit crews can't exactly use your ordinary jacks. Instead, they use jacks that are powered by hydraulics. This jack is handled by one of the crew while there are also two teams each working on one of the tires.
Sometimes when the car is in a really bad shape and the jack man cannot access the bottom of the car, the crew uses a piano bar which is basically a lever used to lift the car so that the jack man can do his thing.
You'll see them under the name impact wrench, air gun or even air wrench. No matter the nomenclature, the tool is the same and it is one of the crucial tools in every pit stop. The tool is powered by an air compressor (which actually uses nitrogen and not air) and it is used to remove lug nuts and put them in place when changing the tire.
Air guns receive such a beating that they have to be rebuilt after 50-60 uses. Still, it is more than worth it since they enable pit crews to change all four tires in under 20 seconds.
Pit box is not exactly a tool in itself, but it is a place where you will find the high-tech part of the pit stop. A pit box is usually supplied with a couple of satellite receivers that provide the crew with readings on track conditions and weather.
The box also features a number of monitors where the crew can get a closer look at their car and its performance and anticipate possible problems with it. On a less high-tech note, the pit box also features a generator which ensures the data is not lost should something happen to the power supply.