Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rookie Stripe: Six Things That Happen Just Before a NASCAR Race



Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
by Logan Stewart

The driver introductions have finished. There’s a mob of people on the track: race-day media, track officials, drivers and their staff, sponsor representatives and sometimes those lucky enough to have track access through a Hot pass.

Up in the stands, most fans are already in their seats, and some have been there for hours already. They may be baking in sweltering temperatures or shivering under blankets, but their loyalty is fierce, and they wouldn’t miss opening ceremonies.

The start of a NASCAR race is a zenith of the sport, second perhaps only to the closing moments or a big crash. No matter how grand the ceremonial magnificence of the pre-race, the mere revving of the engines commands attention and reminds you that loud, high-octane racing is what you came to see.

In those fleeting minutes before a race has its roaring start, a lot is going on. Here are just a few of the things that happen in those moments.

1. NASCAR officials are finalizing every detail. The NASCAR scoring tower is a fortress of technology. From timing and scoring, to monitoring track conditions, to weather and more, the tower is a synchronized stronghold filled with computers, work stations and high-tech equipment that will guide the race.

2. Opening ceremonies. The presentation of the colors by the Color Guard, the invocation, the National Anthem and the military flyover take place, steadfast from race to race. In fact, the flyover  might be the only thing that can pull fans' attention up and away from the track.
Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
3. Drivers get into their cars. Family members, and perhaps close friends, will be standing by as the drivers climb into their machines to start the race. The drivers strap on their helmets, buckle in and pull on their gloves. A team member or two may help secure them in their cars and make last-minute adjustments. Security personnel make sure everyone leaves pit road.
Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
4. The Grand Marshall gives The Command:“Drivers, start your engines!”

5. The pace car leads the field onto the track. Warm-up laps begin, and NASCAR officials make sure, one last time, that the cars are in the correct starting order. NASCAR and the spotters also make last minute checks of the track to be sure it's clear of people and debris.

6. The pace car exits the track and heads down pit road. The green flag flies. It’s time for a NASCAR race!
 

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