DEI Motorsports Director Leery Of Pit Crew Limit
13 October 1998
DEI Motorsports Director Leery Of Pit Crew Limit Norris Says Reduction Tough On Crews, Pit Stops & Won't Reduce Costs Ty Norris, Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s director of motorsports, hopes NASCAR's consideration of a plan to limit the number of crew members each team can use during a weekend doesn't become a reality. In fact, Norris said the rule might increase costs as well as push already overworked crew members out of the sport while escalating the salaries of remaining crew members beyond the cost of the current system. Published reports say NASCAR is considering limiting the number of crew members in an effort to reduce cost as well as avoid some of the sport's top teams from contracting use of their back-up pit crew with other teams. NASCAR expects to announce the plan under consideration within the next few weeks. Norris On the Cost Savings "I'm glad NASCAR is mindful of our need to save money. Keeping the cost of racing down is a major concern for all racing teams. NASCAR is reacting to a particular group of people who have tried to sell themselves to race teams as a professional pit crew. I'm glad that was nipped in the bud before it got out of hand. But, I don't know if limiting the number of crew members on Sunday fixes the problem or creates a whole new set of problems. "Right now, we send eight mechanics to the track to work on the Pennzoil car on Fridays and Saturdays. Then, on Sunday mornings we fly seven more people to the track. Only two of the raceday guys go over the wall, but the other five have very important roles, such as, setting up the pits, gluing up lug nuts, setting up the racetime computers and televisions. All of this takes a tremendous amount of time and it would be very difficult to get done before race time without that support group." Could This Drive Up Costs? "If we are limited to only eight people, which is a number I have heard kicked around, I believe it will drive up costs. In that situation, a person who is a good mechanic or engine tuner who can also jack a car or handle a pit gun is going to be the most expensive guy in the garage. We might not have as many people, but we will have more expensive people, so the salary portion of the cost-savings approach will eventually cancel itself out. Race Day Under Crew Limit: "My biggest concern is employee burnout. Those eight guys have to get up at 5 a.m. on race mornings to beat the traffic to the track and get in the garage by 6 or 7 a.m. They would have to prepare the car on race morning, set up the pits, glue the lug nuts, get through inspection, push the pit and crash carts to pit road, get changed into their uniforms, grab a quick bite to eat and be on line for the national anthem. Then, once the race starts, they have to be fresh enough to pit the car for the next four or five hours. As soon as the race is over, they have to tear down pit road, drag all that stuff back to the hauler, fight traffic to the airport, fly home by 10 or 11 p.m. and be in the shop the next morning. That's the reason we have 15 people at the track on Sundays. "At Martinsville, we found a motor problem race morning and had to change. All 15 of our guys worked frantically to change that motor and the car was being pushed through inspection during the national anthem. With eight guys, we would have missed the start of that race. "The best thing about NASCAR is they talk to a lot of owners, drivers and crew chiefs about issues such as this before they make a rash decision. They will evaluate all of the different angles and make the right decision, and whatever it is, we will find a way to make it work. "