What It's Like to Be a Pit Crew Chief at a Drag Race

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Yesterday was Musclepalooza, a bi-annual drag race my husband Paul competes in. It was a hot day, with 150% humidity -- pretty yucky weather for racing and watching racing. Many people have asked me if I get bored while I’m at these events with Paul. But I am the pit crew chief, so there are things that I need to do. I am also the only member of the pit crew, so I have to do all the things.

“All the things” starts with signing a waiver saying that I won’t hold them responsible if get injured while pit crewing at the track. And once that is done, I get a wrist band saying I’ve done it: 007

Then, we find our spot to set up. I’m not going to get into how I make sure we get a good spot, but I can tell you it’s pretty annoying to Paul (understandably). You may have read about how I am about going to the movies. This is similar.

Next, I open up all the doors:

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And set up our relaxing/waiting/eating area:

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Sometimes there is a canopy, sometimes not. Yesterday was cloudy in the morning, so we didn’t put it up until after this picture.

And of course, set up my things-to-do-while-I-wait-to-do-my-other-pit-crew-duties:

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All this while Paul gets the car ready:

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Then, we wait for Paul’s bracket to be called. He races in the 10-second bracket. That means he gets to the finish line – a quarter mile away – in 10-10.99 seconds.

My next duty is to write on the window the finishing time he thinks he will beat:

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And change it when needed:

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Yes, three hundredths of a second makes a difference. Who knew it could be this precise?

It doesn’t end here. Then I follow him to the staging lanes on the ATV to wait with him …

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…and take his water and any other stuff from him before he races. It can’t stay in the car with him because he goes so fast (122 mph) that when he brakes at the end, things will fly everywhere in the car.

Then I go sit here:

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Or stand here:

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…to watch him go down the track. If I can see through the burn-out smoke. Cough. Cough. If I see that he has gotten down safely, and does not need me to tow him with the ATV – which would mean the car broke and would be bad - I head back to the pits to wait for the next round.

And knit. Yesterday I worked on my next round of traveling socks. I was able to finish my section and they are ready to send on:

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Somewhere in between rounds I cook lunch:

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And knit some more. Or read. See? Not boring. I love to knit and read.

Then, when he gets out in the second round, losing by 14 thousandths – yes, thousandths – of a second, I put everything away and lock up all the doors and we go home. Even though he was out early, it was a good day. Except for the 150% humidity.

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