This weekend someone said something to me and it got me thinking, it says something about the culture of fans and I was saddened. Back in the early 1980’s and previous the crews use to have their names on the car and the crews were in team pictures. It was a full blown team sport, not just a driver sport. Times change and fans change. Not always for the better.
So I want to take a moment to tell the fans, remember the team. Don’t just cheer for the driver, cheer for your hard working crew members. Cheer for the guy in the shop who cuts and welds tubing into a roll bar. Cheer for the guy that hammers the sheetmetal into the skin we see. Cheer for the mechanic that is tightening and torquing the last bolt on a cylinder head right now. They all are part of the team. Without the shop guys working late and getting up early, the car never reaches the hauler.
Cheer for the driver of the rig that isn’t home, who drives hours on end to make it to the track. When they are washing and shining their truck for the fan parade, cheer for them. When they roll out of the track on the way home after a weekend, cheer for them.
After Dale Earnhardt became a name, not just a driver… Fans changed. We forgot that we cheer on the jackman. We forgot to cheer on the tire changers and tire carriers and the fueler. We forgot that these hard working people, whose biggest fans are their families, need to know that we fans appreciate all they do. They jump off that wall in front of speeding cars and endanger themselves for us, the fans.
Last week when Austin got in the wreck, it wasn’t him fixing the car on pit road, it wasn’t Slugger Labbe, it was the crew who work in a cut throat world where every stop could be their last, where every inch lost or gained could mean their job tomorrow. With the downsizing of NASCAR there are more crew members than crews. They not only have to jump the wall they have to know the car and be better and faster than everyone else.
Instead of us shouting for faster stops, shout that they are as fast as they are, cheer them on, encourage them. Don’t be a fan of just the driver, be a fan of the team. They work and sacrifice so at the end of the week we can enjoy the sport. Their families go days on end without seeing them so we can see our driver put on a show. They fix mistakes that they have no control over and take the chewing when something goes wrong.
Every team has these people. Every team has someone tuning the engine, someone under the car, someone adjusting the seat and pedals, someone gluing lugnuts on rims. All these jobs are done for us, the fans, to cheer on our driver.
We know names like Chocolate Meyers and Will Lind because we use to cheer on the team, not just the driver. Fans, we are doing something wrong. We can still be #AD3nation but remember the nation, the crew members, the body shop guys, the engine shop guys, the guys who skin their knuckles and go home sore so we can enjoy watching out drivers in their cars do amazing things.
I originally started this account because I am a fan of not just drivers, but because I am a fan of crew chiefs. Guys like Slugger Labbe inspire me, they have so much knowledge and have to be able to do so many things. I find it amazing. However, a good crew chief is nothing without his team.
So this is for the guys in the shop working with Freddy, this is for the guys working with Frank and tuning the engine, this is for Clint and the guys working on the body to make the aero better, this is for Kevin and the guys under the car, this is for Adam and the guys working inside the rollcage making it all right for the driver. This is for SJ and the guys making sure the tires meet the asphalt. This is for Greg and Ryan and Slugger and Andrew studying every Technical aspect to make the car faster. This is for Andy, being the eyes and ears for Austin… This is for Sam, Brian, Ty, Josh, Allen, and Jason…
To all your families…
I am a fan of the 3 team, as a fan I realize you let Austin take the glory; but you are not forgotten…
I am a fan… of you too. I am a fan… of a team.