Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Rookie Stripe: Over the Wall

Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
By Logan Stewart

Attune your ears to the raucous din of a NASCAR race and you’ll hear all kinds of noise. It’s the sound of speed, race-style; the squeal of tires on asphalt; the clarion cry of fans; engines so deafening they seem to perforate the atmosphere.

Amid the clamor there’s a silent, motionless part of each race that’s easily overlooked if you don’t know why it’s there. Standing just three feet high and running the length of pit road, the pit wall isn’t all that remarkable. It separates the pit stalls from pit road. Sometimes during pre-race you’ll see people sitting on the wall; maybe using it as a coat hanger for their jackets or a lean-to for pit equipment. Drab and uninspiring compared to the grandeur of the infield, the plain concrete barrier is somewhat obscure. But come race time, this steadfast stanchion will roar to life.

 “Over the wall is always a dangerous place to be.” –
Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs 
The green flag drops. The decibels escalate. Fans are on their feet screaming as racecars turn left at over a hundred miles per hour.

When a driver comes off the oval track for a pit stop, parking expeditiously yet precisely in front of the pit stall, the wall holds just as resilient as ever. The six pit crew members are poised atop and just inside the wall, equipment in hand, as their driver rolls in.  Pit stops are a test of milliseconds, and suddenly the wall becomes a springboard for adrenaline. With the dexterity of an artist, and at cyclonic speeds, the over-the-wall crew leaps onto pit road.  Within mere seconds they change tires, gas the car and make other necessary adjustments, and the driver peels off. The crew returns to the pit stall, watches a recap and prepares for the next stop.
Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs

"You just do your job as best as you can. There's six of us going over the wall to do our job as best and as fast as we can. If one guy screws up, it doesn't matter how fast the rest are—you're only as strong as your weakest link.” – R.J. Barnette

Long after the race ends and the people have left, the wall remains motionless and steadfast. Quiet. It will stay rooted in its spot, until it’s time for the next race.

It’s been said that walls have ears. I believe that one hundred percent.