All Access with Couch Crew Chief

 

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Dale Earnhardt Sr. chassis number 32.

My wife and I visited the team in Welcome, NC again this morning. On Tuesday we purchased tickets to do the RCR Museum “All Access Shop Tour.” Normally $45, it is well worth it. The morning started with a tour of the museum from “Chocolate” Myers. We had a small breakfast with drinks and biscuits and stories from the source. Truly a treasure of NASCAR. Seeing the old shop is amazing, from all the historic special scheme cars to many of the original, still dirty cars right from the track.

After the museum tour we walked outside, where chassis number 32 awaited us. This car had been in storage for years. They were cleaning out the building and this beauty fired up. The old SB2 motor sang. It was soon driven off to… who knows where. On the A-post you will see the “NASCAR 2000” decal. After 18 year, hidden away, she is still as beautiful as ever.

 

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Spring 2018 Talladega backup car for Ryan Newman.

 

As we entered the main shop, the 31 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet of Ryan Newman stared us down. The front profile of the ZL1 is very aggressive, and pictures cannot do the hood justice as it has major lines and contour. This mean machine will likely be backup at Talladega.

After we left the main shop we were brought through the body shop, where they hang bodies on chassis. While we were not allowed to take pictures, let me assure you that it is one of the most visually impressive areas. English wheels, sparks, welders, and an internal GPS system that is good down to the thousandth of an inch. This is what it takes to just be competitive in NASCAR today.

 

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“Shadows of Dale.” Cars being prepped. Photo edited to delete chassis parts. (Sensitive media.)

After a trip through the back alleys of RCR and a look inside the media room, we happened back out on the fan walk. There are cars being prepped for racing, the primer car with DOW hood decal is set to go to Michigan for tire test the week of April 23, 2018. The fan walk is open to public all the time and it is beautiful. We met Mike Dillon during the tour, and one can see drivers and crew members from here Monday through Thursday. Photos are welcomed, just don’t try to share chassis pictures, you would be surprised who can decipher what from a single picture.

 

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Texas Spring 2018 was not kind to this girl.

Also from the Fan Walk you will see cars that are staged for, “Rehab” like this poor girl from Texas. She had a rough race and shows it. There are several cars that will be staged here and they will go to the back, stripped down, rebuilt, and repaired. In this fashion a car may see several iterations in it’s life cycle.

After the Cup shop we visited the pit crew department where Will Goodnow from this weekend’s Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff #8 team took time to talk with the group about the new pit stops, the changing of strategies, and the new pit guns. As previously stated, the pit crew has taken the attitude of, “This is what we have to do, so let’s just rock it!” And, they do. The whole pit stop is a challenge in choreography now and is quite amazing.

After the pit crew department we visited the XFINITY shop which is a miniature version of the cup shop. While they worked, Cup practice was on TV so they could keep up with Daniel Hemric who is making his Cup series debut.

 

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ECR Engines ready for delivery.

 

Finally we visited quite possibly, the most anal retentive (I say that in a good way) department known to man. ECR Engines. Every part is checked and rechecked. From electron microscopes to testing what metal each piece is made of. These engines have small QR codes all over them which tell the team everything about it, right down to when the metal was smelted. After everything  is checked, it goes to preassembly, then to final assembly, to the dyno, and lastly, it goes to the engine tuners. The guys at the track put the final touches on and make sure it sings a beautiful 800 horsepower song. The goal of the shop is to have less than a 1% horsepower difference from motor to motor. That is a tight tolerance with very few failures. This same shop boasts many different wins in the IMSA series with the former Corvette DP & current Cadillac DPI chassis.

After over 3 hours you will find yourself back in the RCR Museum and team store where you receive 15% off and you can retour the museum with all the time in the world. Go tell the girls hi and tell them Couch Crew Chief sent you. Hey, they all told me to make sure I send you up there!

All in all, it was a fantastic day. We had breakfast, got to hear stories from the old days, got to see some amazing cars, and maybe even learned a little something. Even if you don’t do the full tour, the museum is well worth the visit. You will see things long lost to legend and you can always catch Chocolate before his show or after. He is the real deal and knows the best places to eat. He is also your one stop shop for local history.

Enjoy your trip.

 

JL
@lbrady85 on IG (left) & @couchcrewchief (right)

Who knows, like Logan, maybe I’ll see you… in the box.

 

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