To start the day I was sent to speak with Oconomowoc, Wisconsin native, Paul Swan. He gave me a tour of the pit crew practice area and showed me video of the new pit stops. Speaking candidly I was told that all were a little afraid of the new 4 +1 crew roster. It wasn’t because it would be hard, these men are ready for the challenge. They all knew that some friends would soon be departing and that, that made this change hard.
I had to ask about the new pit guns, to get the real scoop. While the guys miss their old guns, which were faster, they are embracing the new. Ray Wright has told the guys not to worry about it or complain about it. They don’t have a choice so be the best with what you have. If you watch them practice, it is easy to see they have embraced this and are tackling it, head on. Day after day, hour after hour, they practice and aim to be the best.
It was a busy day in the Richard Childress Racing cup shop. I was able to see the primary car for Las Vegas Motor Speedway start to take shape. From high atop the catwalk you could see all of the shop crewmen working to get cars ready for load up, trucks are rolling tonight. So, let me share a little of the glamour I was able to see.
Getting the cars turned around and ready to race this week is no easy feat. The guys talked of 12 and 14 hour days. There will be some busted knuckles and kinks in the back to work out. No matter what anyone thinks, this is something you have to love to do. It’s a tough job and these guys are getting it done.
I was lucky enough to see the Atlanta “tear down” where they scaled and checked over the car, fresh from the hauler. This will give them a starting point for the next race in Atlanta but also give them information for next weekend. She had a little dust and dirt on her and probably a few hundred pounds of rubber under her from race build up.
Car Chief, Greg Ebert, invited me to stop in. Undercar Tech, Kevin Gladman went a step further and invited me to cook for this fine group. I brought down brats and cheese curds, with plenty of sauerkraut to go around. At lunch the shop came out to eat and every single man was happy and kind and appreciative. Truth be known, I appreciate them more than they know. They make Sunday’s happen. I’ve spent many Sundays watching the 3 car turn laps and I was honored to spend time with all the guys that make it happen.
After lunch I was given the opportunity of a lifetime, to go on the shop floor and get up close and personal. After a set of safety glasses I was able to talk my way into doing some work. Folding shop rags. Hey, it has to be done! I enjoyed every second of it. Talking with SJ Golembeski, tire specialist, who meticulously maintains the pit box and supplies. He makes sure that the team has everything at their disposal. Goes through his check list and then helps everywhere else needed. It’s a big job, on Sunday if something they need isn’t there, that could be the difference in winning and fighting for twentieth.
It was truly a state of awe for me. To be here, there… On the floor.
I left the shop around 3pm local time, not because I had to, but I knew they were busy. They were in the middle of a long day and an extra body wasn’t going to make life easier for them. I hope the food helped make their long day a little better.
I left Appleton, Wi on Saturday, February 25 to come to North Carolina. There are some goals. I look to move down here. I look to get on a race team. Eventually I will make it to the RCR shop floor. Failing that, I will be the best damn writer there is and I will provide the best social media I can. It’s what I do. It’s why I am here. It’s my dream.
In the end I can only say, “Thank you.” The good Lord gave me something special today. Also, big thanks to the Wisconsin boys, Paul Swan and Greg Ebert, for taking a little extra time with me. Thanks also to Kevin Gladman and Adam Brown, Josh Sisco and Clay Alexander, SJ and Freddy. Thank you to the entire team at RCR. As Andy Houston said before I left, “See you down the road.”