You've seen race cars speed into the pit where the flurry of activity is almost impossible to track. The car is checked and parts are fixed, tires are changed and gas is pumped. In just seconds, the car gets what seems like a total overhaul and is back in the race.
From top left, clockwise:
Tire Passer Inside Front Tire Changer "Dead Man" Fueler Starter/Tire Passer Inside Rear Tire Changer Fire Extinguisher
Pit stops are among the most spectacular moments in motorsports. A quick pit stop can prevent problems that may lead to losing a race or crashing the car.
A top pit crew is a must have for a winning race car driver. Everyone on the team needs to function at top speed with absolutely no room for error. Fractions of a second in the pit can mean the difference between victory and defeat in an important race.
Usually, it takes about 10 crew members to get driver and car to the finish line.
What exactly goes on in those frantic seconds?
Here's a quick overview of the anatomy of a pit stop:
Tire Passer - Brings tires from garage to pits, passes tires over the pit wall for changers.
Inside Front Tire Changer - Takes his tire and air gun over the pit wall. In six to eight seconds, the old tire is removed and the new one fitted. He then assists with front wing adjustments and clears the used tire from pit box.
"Dead Man" - Operates the lever on the fuel tank that allows methanol fuel to flow through the hose into the Champ Car. The name has been coined because if a fuel problem or fire occurs, he can "dead" stop the fuel by releasing the lever.
Fueler - Fits the fuel nozzle into the fuel tank opening on the inboard side of the Champ Car. He wears a full face helmet and a three-layer fire suit.
Other racing teams have a gas man and a gas catch man who are in charge of gassing up the car.
Starter/Tire Passer - Responsible for passing the inside rear tire to changer, preparing all tires for all on-track sessions and keeps track of the miles/laps on each set of tires and the order in which they are used during the race. He also passes the starter over the wall in the event the Champ Car stalls.
Inside Rear Tire Changer - He assumes his position on the lap before the pit stop. Once the tire change is complete, he helps push the car out of the pit.
Fire Extinguisher - Holds the fire extinguisher and sprays a quick jet of water after fuel hose is removed to wash away any methanol spillage.
Jack Man - Connects the air jack hose at the rear of the chassis to raise the car for a tire change. Also assists with passing and clearing of rear tires.
Outside Rear Tire Changer - Once the Champ Car pulls into the pit, with tire and air gun in hand, he sprints around the rear of the car, changes the tire and helps push it out of the pit.
Outside Front Tire Changer - Stands in front of pit area and guides the Champ Car driver into the pit. After changing the front tire, he makes front wing adjustments and signals the driver when it's clear to leave the pit.
The Crew Chief is the boss, the coach and the top mechanic who spots any problems with the car before they interfere with the safety and performance of the high speed racers. He doesn't have a set position during the pit stop, but you can bet he'll be there is anyone needs a hand.
About the Author... Tickets and information about the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto Champ Car race are available online at www.grandprixtoronto.com.