Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rookie Stripe: NASCAR Haulers - The Hub of the Race Team

 
NASCAR haulers lined up
Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
by Logan Stewart

A few days before a Saturday or Sunday NASCAR Sprint Cup race, they start rolling in to the track. Side by side they’ll line up on the track infield with a punctilious precision -- titanic in size but separated by mere feet. Splashed in bright bold colors, these gargantuan 18-wheelers proudly display racing numbers and glossy, larger-than-life images of drivers.

These are the NASCAR haulers, also known as transporters, and their role in racing is so important that teams couldn’t function without them.They're responsible for transporting two stock cars, tools and equipment and engines to every race.  Each hauler is a race shop, workspace, team home base, kitchen, staging area and storage facility all compacted into one, and carries thousands of items that must be replaced, repaired or cleaned after each weekend race. Talk about work behind the scenes.

If race car drivers are considered heroes in NASCAR, a hauler driver certainly deserves some credit: he will drive the shop on wheels to tracks across the United States 38 weeks a year, following extraordinarily synchronized schedules where fine details are as important as high speed.
Inside a NASCAR hauler
Photo Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
“Truck driver is the toughest job in our sport. It’s not just getting the truck from here to there, there’s so much (more) to driving a big rig in our sport.” – Brendan Gaughan, as told to Sporting News.

Driving a NASCAR hauler is no job for a rookie. Haulers are incredibly complex vehicles that can  cost around $500,000, and it’s easy to see why they’re so pricey. Here are some of their major components:

Lift gate – The electric or hydraulic rear door of the transporter is designed to be quickly raised and lowered as needed and help lift and lower the two race cars that are stored in the upper car bay of the hauler. Just underneath the lift gate are steps and double doors leading into the hauler, with windows so crew inside can see out when the doors are closed.
(Insider’s note: Yes, the pit crew do peep out the windows to see what’s going on in the infield or garage area.)

Work area – Just inside the double doors is a narrow hallway that may not look like much upon first glance, but cabinets, drawers, lockers are stacked and loaded with thousands of essential tools and gear. It’s reminiscent of apartments in a big city, where space is at a premium and every inch is utilized to the max. In this area is everything a pit crew would need to work in a regular race shop, and they efficiently pack all of this into one narrow space. In this tightly-packed corridor you’ll also find pit crew lockers, a kitchen with coffeemaker and storage, a microwave, refrigerator, computer storage and equipment, transmission storage, team uniforms and several counter tops built against the trailer wall.
(Insider’s note: Most teams with a food and beverage sponsor have plenty of snacks or drinks on hand in the haulers from that sponsor.)

Inside a NASCAR hauler
Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
Lounge – At the other end of the hauler’s corridor are steps leading to a lounge area, custom-designed for each team, usually with several flat-screen TV monitors that to help follow the team’s performance during a race. They can also track weather, track conditions and more in this area, which has internet access.
(Insider’s note: Some drivers use the lounge as a changing room, though Danica Patrick’s hauler features a separate changing room just for her.)
NASCAR hauler lift gate and rear doors
Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
Upper deck – On top of the semi-hauler is a viewing area where people can watch the race from the infield, high above. Usually only team members, sponsors or VIPs will have access to the upper deck of a hauler. Some team members may also work from the deck to monitor speeds and times.

Featherlite, the official trailer of NASCAR, calls haulers “the nerve center of the modern race team”, and they truly are.

When you’re on the interstate, keep your eyes peeled. You never know where you might see one of the giants of NASCAR, rolling along to its next destination.

Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs

More about haulers:

Inside a NASCAR Transporter – NASCAR.com
NASCAR Hauler 6-Hour Wrap in One Minute (Joe Gibbs Racing)
Life of a NASCAR Hauler Driver – thetrucker.com

2 comments :

  1. What a great article Logan Stewart. So muc wonderful information.you see these big haulers, but have no idea just what is indie them. , and I think it's awesome that you recognize the drivers of these big haulers. They often don't get the recognition they deserve and let's face it without the race cars there'd be no races. Thanks again for a great piece.

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  2. Wednesday afternoon, one of NASCAR's hottest young rookies got a lesson from one of NASCAR's best on how to get around the track they call 'Too Tough To Tame.' Scheduled to make his first career start at the famed Darlington Raceway in just a few weeks, Joey Logano enlisted the help of the legendary Cale Yarborough.

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