What Life is Like as Part of a NASCAR Transport Team

What Life is Like as Part of a NASCAR Transport Team

NASCAR Fans

To racing fanatics around the world, the chance to be part of a NASCAR team may seem like the ultimate dream job. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in exciting races full of speed and adrenaline? But to those who actually work as part of a NASCAR transport team, life isn’t quite as glamorous as it may seem. In fact, it’s said that a transport team member has one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in the entire racing industry. To better understand the life of a NASCAR transport team member, you’ll need to learn more about world of NASCAR and why transport haulers have the most stressful, yet most important, role to play on race day.

Transporter Rig

The primary function of a NASCAR transporter and crew is to get the race car to the track on time and in perfect condition. Without the auto transport team, the race car driver wouldn’t be able to race at all!

There’s a lot of manpower needed for maintaining and navigating each transporter rig. According to one NASCAR transporter profile, each transporter is up to 80 feet long ,and the truck and trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That’s a lot to be responsible for! Each transporter can carry two race cars, a slew of parts and tools, and features both a sleeper cab and an office area within the trailer. When you’re living and working on the road, these small comforts are crucial.

Transporter drivers have a lot of responsibility when hauling a large rig.
Transporter drivers have a lot of responsibility when hauling a large rig.

Driver Duties

The transport crew is typically made up of two people: a driver and a co-driver. Both are responsible for the physically and mentally demanding task of operating their massive transporters during long trips, which can span over ten hours in a single drive. The distance covered can be the most difficult and exhausting part of the job! When it comes to a transport crew member’s schedule, veteran NASCAR hauler Dean Mozingo summed it up nicely: “We go out before everybody and we get home last.”

Between every race, transport drivers make the long haul back to their team’s home base to restock their rig with food, uniforms, laundry, and sundries. Car parts and tools are usually swapped out in preparation for the next race due to differing track conditions. And in addition to their long hauling duties, transport drivers may also be members of the pit crew or even serve as a team cook.

Drivers may double their duties by helping out as a pit crew member.
Drivers may double their duties by helping out as a pit crew member.

Team Benefits

When a NASCAR driver wins, the whole team wins! And as part of a winning team, a transport crew member enjoys many benefits that include special parties thrown by sponsors and receiving valuable commemorative gifts. Most would say that the biggest perk is the win itself, as a huge amount of pride comes from being part of a NASCAR team.

NASCAR crew members, especially transport drivers, are also seen as stars by many of the NASCAR fans on the road. One of the best parts of their job includes meeting new racing enthusiasts and taking photos with excited fans. Many racing fans understand that these behind-the-scenes guys play an important role in making their favorite sport happen.

The Top 5 NASCAR Drivers of All Time

The Top 5 NASCAR Drivers of All Time

NASCAR Drivers

While it is unlikely that you will ever agree with your NASCAR buddies on a definitive list of the best of the best, there are a few NASCAR drivers that rightfully deserve consideration as the greatest to ever navigate the oval. Here are our selections for the top 5 NASCAR drivers of all time.

5. Jeff Gordon

Some of you will want him placed higher on this list, and you could certainly make a strong case for moving Jeff Gordon up. One of the most polarizing drivers in NASCAR history, Gordon competed in 23 straight NASCAR seasons from 1993-2015 for Hendrick Motorsports in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Gordon captured the Winston Cup four times: 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001. The Vallejo, California native was also named the 1993 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year and the 1991 Busch Series Rookie of the Year.

Jeff Gordon posing for a photo op at Talladega in 2011. He would go on to finish 3rd in a very tight race.
Jeff Gordon posing for a photo op at Talladega in 2011. He would go on to finish 3rd in a very tight race.

With 93 wins from 81 poles in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Gordon was a consistent threat on the track. He finished in the top ten of 476 races and remains a fierce competitor even though his 2016 appearances were limited as Gordon eases into retirement.

4. Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson is a six-time Sprint Cup Series champion, winning the title consecutively from 2006-2010 and again in 2013. Johnson notched his first win in the 2002 NAPA Auto Parts 500 and his most recent victory came in the 2016 Bank of America 500. To date, Johnson has won 78 events from 35 poles and placed in the top ten 328 times.

Jimmie Johnson’s first racing contests were on motorcycles at the tender age of four. He later competed in off-road and desert racing events before making the move to NASCAR. In 2002, Johnson made the switch to full-time participation in the Winston Cup Series and his rise to the top of the sport was meteoric despite some struggles in his early seasons. The legendary streak began in 2006 with a win in the Daytona 500, signaling the success that would follow.

3. David Pearson

For many NASCAR fans, David Pearson has become something of a footnote in history because he had the unfortunate task of competing against the man who holds the number one position on this list. Hailing from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Pearson began his NASCAR career in 1960 and was named NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year.

This Number 21 Mercury was one of the cars driver by Pearson over his fantastic racing career.
This Number 21 Mercury was one of the cars driver by Pearson over his fantastic racing career.

Pearson captured the Grand National Series championship in 1966, 1968, and 1969. He won the Daytona 500 just once, in 1976, but also captured the NASCAR Triple Crown that same year. Over the course of his 27-year career, David Pearson won 105 races from 113 poles and finished in the top ten 366 times. Despite his success, Pearson is often overlooked in favor of drivers such as Richard Petty who garnered the lion’s share of media attention.

2. Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Without question, the Intimidator will always be the greatest NASCAR driver of all time to many fans. A ruthless competitor with an affable personality off the track, Earnhardt paid the ultimate price for the sport he loved when he was killed in the February 2001 running of the Daytona 500. Although the tragedy affected millions of NASCAR fans on a personal level, most would agree that there could have been no more fitting exit for a man who gave so much to the sport.

Earnhardt began his career in 1975, racing in the Winston Series Cup. His first win came in the 1979 Southeastern 500 at Bristol. Earnhardt would go on to win 76 events from 22 poles and finish in the top ten 428 times. It was in 1988 that Earnhardt would forever become associated with the No. 3 car with its trademark black paint design. He won the Winston Cup series an astonishing seven times from 1980-1994, forever cementing his claim to the best of all time.

1. Richard Petty

NASCAR drivers come and go, but Richard Petty remains the greatest of all time in the eyes of many fans. Known for his shades and cowboy hat, Richard followed in the steps of his father Lee and made his debut in the 1958 Jim Mideon 500 in Toronto. His first win came in a nondescript, untitled race in 1960, and the rest is history.

"The King" of NASCAR, Richard Petty, struts around the track in his iconic cowboy hat in this picture from 1984. Though now retired, he's still very involved in the sport he loves.
“The King” of NASCAR, Richard Petty, struts around the track in his iconic cowboy hat in this picture from 1984. Though now retired, he’s still very involved in the sport he loves.

Petty won the Winston Cup Series title five times and the Daytona 500 seven times, earning him the nickname, “The King.” Over his 35-year career, Petty won 200 races from 123 poles and finished in the top ten 712 times. In retirement, Petty has become an elder statesman for the sport and regularly appears in television commercials. His popularity has not diminished since he finished his career in 1992.

 

10 Things You Didn’t Know About NASCAR

10 Things You Didn’t Know About NASCAR

NASCAR Fans

NASCAR fans are a passionate bunch, and if you are reading this you’re probably one of the faithful. Even so, some of the following facts about NASCAR may surprise you. Here are a few little-known NASCAR facts that you can use to impress your racing buddies.

10. The King’s Window Net

Any legit NASCAR fan knows that Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 seven times and is widely regarded as the best driver of all time, but did you know that Petty is credited with the invention of the window net that is used on race cars? Petty designed the net to help prevent injuries by keeping a driver’s arms inside the car in the event of a crash.

The safety net pictured here was designed with the help of racing legend Richard Petty.
The safety net pictured here was designed with the help of racing legend Richard Petty.

9. The Intimidator’s Final Contribution

The death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in the 2001 Daytona 500 prompted NASCAR to initiate the requirement of head and neck restraints. Since this measure was implemented, no drivers have been killed in a NASCAR event. This is a fitting tribute to a man that gave so much to the sport.

8. Pack on the Pounds

All drivers in a NASCAR race are required to weigh 200 pounds. Not 201, not 199. 200. This includes the helmet. If a driver doesn’t weigh 200 pounds, weights are added in increments of ten pounds to help the driver make weight, as was the case for Danica Patrick. If a driver weighs more than 200 (Tony Stewart…cough, cough) the weight of the car might have to be reduced to satisfy the total weight of 3,450 pounds. And you thought horseracing jockeys had it bad.

7. A Good Hair Day

All the vinyl decals on a race car, and there are lots of them, are applied with the use of a hair dryer. What looks like a cool paint job on a race car is actually the work of a hairdresser. Who knew?

6. Get in Shape!

How hard can it be to sit behind the wheel of a race car? Well, a NASCAR driver’s heartbeat sustains at approximately 120-150 beats per minute throughout the entirety of the race. To put that in perspective, a marathon runner will boast the same heart rate during a three-hour race.

5. We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ License!

NASCAR drivers are not required to have a driver’s license. They must, however, pass drug screens and physicals and be thoroughly vetted before being allowed to compete. If you see Jimmie Johnson after a race thumbing a ride out of town, now you know why.

4. Humble Beginnings

The very first NASCAR race was a little different than the big spectacles races have become today. It was conducted on a ¾-mile dirt track in Charlotte, North Carolina. Imagine what sitting in those stands must have been like on the sinuses.

3. Danica Who?

Long before Danica Patrick sat behind the wheel of the No. 10 Chevrolet, another female was breaking boundaries in NASCAR. Janet Guthrie caused quite a stir when she became the first woman to compete in a Winston Cup event way back in 1976. Guthrie also made history by qualifying for both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year, 1977.

2. I Need That Driver on my Fantasy Football Team!

It takes a little over one second for a NASCAR driver to travel the length of a football field, making every driver that has sat behind the wheel a no-brainer first-round draft pick. Plus, a football team could save a lot of money on shoulder pads.

The average speed at some race tracks, like Talledega, is a mind-boggling 200 miles an hour.
The average speed at some race tracks, like Talledega, is a mind-boggling 200 miles an hour.

1. The Streak Michael Waltrip Hated to Break

Michael Waltrip had a rough time in his NASCAR career. He went 463 starts without a win until lightning struck in the 2001 Daytona 500. Yet, for all the happiness Waltrip must have felt in breaking his losing streak, he’d probably give anything to go back in history and erase the finish of the race. His boss, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., lost his life in a crash on the final lap.