Preparing for a Career as a Pit Crew Member

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You’ve been working for an automotive repair shop as an assistant mechanic for nearly eight months now. You assist the chief mechanic in services such as full engine clean, flush and fill, drive and fan belt inspections, and brake fluid change, among others. But you don’t want to get stuck in this assistant role. You love cars and being a mechanic. But your dream is to become a pit crew member for any of the primary motor racing sports. You’re prepared to move to Daytona, Florida, for the NASCAR races or to the UK, even if it’s not a Formula 1 competition.

This is why you took this job to be an assistant mechanic. To learn as much as you can about cars and how to be a good mechanic. You understand that the rigors of being a pit crew member might be a different story altogether. So what does it take to be a Guido in the real world? Is being a mechanic enough?

Pit Crew: an Overview

A pit crew is composed of a variety of professionals, including mechanics and other specialists, whose responsibility is to ensure the racecar’s mechanical requirements are attended to when they pull in at the pit stop. They perform speedy maintenance procedures so that racecars are in top shape and ready to win a race. Refueling, changing of tires, and other essential repairs are done during pit stops.

2016 data indicates that pit crew members’ salary falls within the range of about $21,500 to more than $64,000. The median wage is nearly $38,500.

The Challenge of Being a Pit Crew Member

race car

You would imagine that the essential requirement of becoming a pit crew member is to be a mechanic. Sure, that might be true. But there’s more to being a pit crew member than being a mechanic or knowing a lot about cars. Here are a few more things that you should take note of.

  1. It’s incredibly physical. Guido in the movie “Cars” tossed four new tires up in the air, screwed out the old one and screwed in the new ones as they came down one after the other, in under five seconds. That might be a work of fiction, but at NASCAR, the average pitstop lasts about 15 seconds. How are they able to do this? Because pit stop crew members are former athletes, who’ve been trained to perform a mechanic’s job. The training has been reversed, from teaching mechanics to become more physical, to getting athletes to learn about the role of a mechanic.
  2. Formal training. Hands-on practice as a mechanic helps, but you should also undergo formal pit crew training. The Hedgecock Racing Academy (North Carolina) and Universal Technical Institute offer training programs that you can check out. Some are specific to NASCAR.
  3. Long hours and travel. Pit crew members also work long hours, some 12 to 15 hours a day. At NASCAR, you might be traveling for a total of 36 weeks. The strength and endurance training take about 49 weeks.

While your background as a mechanic helps, physical fitness has become a pivotal requirement to become a topnotch pit crew member. It’s a high adrenaline environment and a physically demanding one. Because of these, many in the race circuit don’t usually last long at their job. The pit crew employment industry has a projected 6% growth rate, but it will be very competitive. Are you ready to hit the gym and become a pit crew athlete?

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