The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: NASCAR's New Pit Rules by John Potts -- Thursday May 19, 2011

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Potts' Shots: NASCAR's New Pit Rules

John Potts · Thursday May 19, 2011

 

A reader who frequently comments on Frontstretch.com, and calls himself “Mad Mikie,” comments on last week’s subject Dick Trickle’s crew changing engines on an open trailer out on the road story:

I don’t know about Dick Trickle changing engines on the open road, but a few drivers from back in the ’50s and ’60s did. Rex White could probably give you a name or two.

Well, Mike, I’m sure that’s probably the truth, and I’m sure Rex could provide some information about it. I’ll have to ask Mike Clements, too: his father was the co-car owner and crew chief for Rex until 1965.

And while I’m on that subject, I’d like to slip in a plug for Mike’s book, The Crew Chief’s Son, which is available from McFarland Publishing. It’s a great read full of all kinds of information from those years. You could find almost all the statistical information online, or by reading Greg Fielden’s series of books, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

Everybody knows that I’m big on racing history, and this book provides it with a twist. It’s all that history as seen through the eyes of a kid who was happy to be part of it all. From his mother cooking the fried chicken for the trips to the tracks, to watching it all happen while standing on top of the family car in the infield, it’s a real trip.

Here was a kid who met nearly all of the stars of those days, and watched his father and uncle build and prepare cars the old-fashioned way – in the family garage. Needless to say, they didn’t have computers, CRC machines, or any of the modern conveniences engine builders and chassis experts work with today.

And differences of opinion were settled between competitors, also the old-fashioned way. You might even learn some things about the people involved in the sport back in those days that you didn’t know. I did.

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NASCAR’s decision to have pit officials remain with their cars longer is an idea adopted from short tracks across the country.

George B. from Amarillo, Texas wants to know: What do you think about NASCAR announcing that pit officials will remain with their cars longer in the future?

George, this naturally came about after the Kevin Harvick-Kyle Busch fracas on pit road at Darlington, when Kyle decided to shove Harvick’s car out of the way while it was unoccupied. As I see it, it’s another example of how NASCAR is beginning to find out that most of the country’s short tracks, along with a lot of the other sanctioning bodies, have had the right idea most of these years.

At every track where I ever worked, and with every sanctioning body I ever worked for, this was automatically taken care of immediately, and I’m sure it still is in effect today. I know it is at the short track where I announce. As soon as there is an incident on track which might lead to problems, Race Control, or the race director, or whoever is in charge, calls for officials to go to each team’s pit area, and others to get to those cars as soon as the race is over.

After all these years, NASCAR suddenly decides it’s a good idea for them, too.

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And now, If I may be permitted to slip in a shameless plug, “Driven To The Past” is now off the presses. A lot of the book is columns you’ve read here, rewritten to fit the book format, and there are some other tales as well. Stories about ASA, ARCA, NASCAR, open wheel racing, the old Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville, the facility formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park, some of the personalities I’ve met, and more.

It’s been a labor of love, and I hope the readers like it. I have to thank Tom Bowles, for getting me to start writing columns for Frontstretch.com and putting these down on paper.

And also I have to thank Dave Argabright, one of the best racing writers around, for his advice. He told me how to help myself remember all these stories, and also gave me some tips about the self-publishing business.

If you’re interested, e-mail me at indybigjohn@roadrunner.com for details.

Contact John Potts

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Brian Mc
05/19/2011 08:15 PM
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Dave Argabright is amazing. If he could get Chris Economacki to remember all the great stuff in “Let ‘Em All Go!” he can help you! Can’t wait to read it. One of my other all-time favorites is “Supercars” the story of the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird by Frank Moriarty with illustrations by my friend Steve Mirabelli. Any others to recommend?

Danny Burton
05/19/2011 09:54 PM
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I’m at the mercy of my employer, eagerly awaiting John’s effort. It should be a treat, with a lot of good memories from my younger days in there.