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NASCAR Teams Prepare for Race in Japan

21 November 1997


SUZUKA CITY, JAPAN - Early Friday morning NASCAR teams began unloading their 
cars and equipment in preparation for the NASCAR Thunder Special -- Suzuka 
demonstration race at Suzuka Circuit, Japan, on Sunday. 

Teams swung open the doors and carefully rolled their brightly painted stock 
cars out of the massive orange and brown shipping containers used to 
transport them on the overseas trip. 

The exhibition event on the 1.4-mile road course will feature competitors 
from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series, the NASCAR 
Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Winston West Series, along with 
NASCAR-licensed Japanese drivers. 

Unloading the cars, giant toolboxes and stacks of spare equipment from the 
massive metal containers was not much different than unloading a team 
transporter at a race in the United States, according to some crew chiefs. 

"The way we're set up there now, it's no different than working out of our 
track at a regular race track," said Larry McReynolds, crew chief for the 
ACDelco Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt.

"We can walk back and forth to them," McReynolds said in reference to the 
containers lined up evenly spaced in two rows behind the team suites. "It's 
no different than if we were at Atlanta. We started unloading the container 
at seven o'clock and two-and-a-half hours later all of our stuff was 

Preparation for the trip is more important than going to a regular race 
however. McReynolds said, "A lot of thought has to be put into coming over 
here, because we don't have a parts truck that we can run to," he explained. 
"But you see everybody working together. Everybody's here to help everybody 
and to make this a good experience for everyone."

Tim Brewer, crew chief for the QVC Ford driven by Geoff Bodine, expressed a 
similar theory.

"When you work out of something 32 events a year, you've got it pretty much 
down to a science as far as where everything's at, what you've got and what 
you haven't got," Brewer said of the big team haulers that are used to 
transport cars and equipment to races across America. "You're not limited to 

"Here, it's a situation where you only bring one car and you've got a couple 
of backup motors, but you didn't bring all the fasteners or maybe not all the 
headers or tailpipes or anything else you might need," he said. "There again, 
it's makeshift. You've got a lot of people here who have brought a lot of 
different components. If you need something you simply borrow it."

David Gilliland -- crew chief for the Stroppe Motorsports/Pro Insulation Ford 
driven by his father, NASCAR Winston West Series 1997 champion Butch 
Gilliland -- also compared the unloading of the containers to unloading a 
team hauler.

"It's not much different than unloading for an event in the states," he said. 
"You still unload all the same stuff, it just takes a little longer."

Gilliland said his team learned from last year's event to be better prepared 
in packing for the trip. "We knew what to expect and how to prepare for it," 
he said. "We brought all the stuff we needed. Last year we forgot some stuff. 
This year we have what we need."

Despite all the preparation, McReynolds did find a few surprises when crew 
members opened their container.

"It appears than somewhere along the route our container had a rough 
experience," he explained. "The car had come loose and a lot of stuff inside 
it had come loose. But we fixed everything and we're back in working order."

By NASCAR Public Relations