If there is one position on pit road that stays under the radar it’s the Gas Man. I would compare it to a kicker in football. You always expect a kicker to make an extra point or make a good punt. It goes unnoticed until you see a guy miss an easy kick or shank a punt. Gassing is the same way. It goes unnoticed during a pit stop until you pull out of the pits and the car isn’t full. When that happens all your strategy changes and a new game plan has to be developed to make up for the Gas Man not getting the car full.
Meet Chocolate Myers, considered by many to be the most accomplished Gas Man of all time. If not the most accomplished, he’s definitely the most popular. He spent 20 years on Cup pit road and won over 75 points races. Along with the wins came 6 championships and 1 Daytona 500 in 1998 with Dale Sr. When you mention the name Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt, Chocolate Myers usually follows at some point. “I was very fortunate in my career. Me and Richard were good friends growing up and we bummed around together all the time. When Richard was starting his Cup team there was no one else I would rather have worked with or for.” Although Richard played a big role in the future of Myers career it was his dad that shaped his racing roots. “My dad was one of the original racers back in the day. I’ve been working on cars and racing my whole life. I was just fortunate to meet Richard at a young age and what a ride it has been.” One thing that was obvious while doing this interview was the pride that was taken in working for RCR. “When RCR was started it was a family atmosphere. We took a lot of pride in going to the track and competing at the level we did. One thing that is different now with pit crew guys than when I raced is how specialized it has become. Everyone on the crews I worked on was also mechanics. Now it has become so specialized. That’s not a bad thing it’s just one of the ways the crews have changed since I was doing it.” Another big change is the money. Back in the 80’s and first part of the 90’s there was no money to pit the car. You worked all weekend to go fast and then pitted the car during the race. “It’s funny you bring that up. I was just talking the other day about the first time I was told that we were gonna get paid to pit the car. I thought that was so nice to get a little something extra to pit. I guess I was a little naive at first to what other guys were making. I would have continued doing it for free because I loved what I did but getting a little extra was nice.”
The last part of this interview was based on some memories that Mr. Myers has taken from the sport. Before we get into some of the highlights of your career, I need to know how you got the name “Chocolate”. That’s an easy one; I was playing little league Pop Warner football for the Tiny Grey Hounds. My coach said “catch the ball Chocolate drop”. I had a real dark complexion and the name has stuck. So how was Dale Earnhardt to pit for. “I can remember one time Dale said to the crew, don’t get mad at me for putting it in the wall and I won’t get mad at you guys for a bad stop. Fortunately we didn’t have many of those.” So what was the best memory you have taken from the pitting side of the sport. “Well, I think the fact that we were all so close of a family and we had the ability to go out and help alter the result of the race with good pit stops. It was so much fun to pit with the guys you worked with. It was a great feeling to go out and have good stops and make everyone proud of what we were accomplishing up at RCR.” So is there one memory that stands out more than any other. “Winning 6 championships was something that really sticks out. I think we did more with what we had than anyone else in the sport. The Daytona 500 in 1998 was a pretty big deal as well.” Is there anything that really stood out as the worst memory? “I was very fortunate to never get hit during a pit stop. The worst part was watching other guys on teams get hurt. Everyone in the garages were friends and I saw plenty of my friends get hit and hurt and that part was really hard for me.” So why a Gas Man, did you ever think of trying another position? “Well, to be honest, the biggest guy in the shop is usually the Gas Man. I started out handing in the second can and then I moved into becoming the Gas Man.” Speaking of being the big guy and big things, did you ever see the prestige ever becoming as big as it is with pit crew guys? No, absolutely not. Things we never dreamed we would see, me and RC would talk about it. These guys today have catered meals, energy drinks, and training year round. All that stuff is new. The money has gotten really big. What’s happened to the sport is that we used to be a bunch of good ole boys and then all the sudden sponsors and money came in and the whole sport has snow balled. That’s not a bad thing, it’s actually a very cool thing. I love it. There is just so much more time and effort put into pitting now than when I was doing it.” The hardest part for athletes is knowing when to hang it up. It’s something that everyone who plays or participates on a team will face. When you got out of the sport did you feel it was the right time? I had to be one of the most fortunate guys to ever do it. I got to go from the track to operating the RCR museum. My wife Karon told me that when I quit it’s going to kill me. I told her I really thought I would be OK with it and I was. I did it, enjoyed it, and want someone else to enjoy it like it did.” So what are you up to now and what does the future hold? Well, I run the RCR museum currently and I enjoy spending time on High Rock Lake. Me and the wife love the outdoors and just enjoy spending time on the lake and riding motor cycles.” Well, I think you have answered all the questions that we have and I would like to thank you for taking time to sit down with us. There is no substitute for a guy who has accomplished many things and stayed humble to his beginnings. Chocolate Myers demonstrated how loyalty pays off and how two young friends could end up becoming part of one of the most powerful Nascar teams of all time.