A few days ago, The Charlotte Observer broke the story on tire changer Brandon Hopkins and the lawsuit against MWR. If you missed the article then here is the link (article). In the article it states each side of the story and explains what the problem is. One of the main points in the lawsuit stems around the fact that Hopkins is accused of stealing a pit gun and being “Blacklisted”. Here is the excerpt from the article in the Charlotte Observer regarding the gun.
“He contends team officials “blacklisted” him after his surgery by falsely accusing him of stealing a pit gun used to remove lug nuts.”
After reading the entire article, I read all the comments at the bottom. It seems the general public is definitely on Hopkins side but I don’t think everyone understands the severity of stealing a pit gun, “if that proves to be true”. So let’s try and give some clarity to what that means and help everyone understand how much money a gun is really worth. Before we explain we would like to make it clear that we take no sides on this issue. This is up to the courts to figure out and we are simply trying to use this case to explain how far pit gun technology and equipment has come.
So… Here lies the problem and the importance that comes with team issued pit guns. Over the last few years teams have spent a ton of money developing pit equipment. Jacks, Guns, and anything else that can help a crew get an advantage. Joe Gibbs Racing was one of the first to really push the issue and their gun program has been top of the class for the last few years. After seeing the advantages a great gun can give a team, most teams in NASCAR now have their own developmental gun program. Teams are pushing so much money into their gun programs that if a gun goes missing it could cause a major problem for that company. All the proprietary information that gun contains could get opened up to the public by simply taking the gun apart and looking at it. It is no different than taking car set-up notes and exposing them to the public. It is a big deal because of the money and time that teams have put into their programs to make these guns unique.
With that being said, we have no idea how far along, if any, MWR is with their gun program. But…if they have spent a ton of money on their guns and they are accusing Mr. Hopkins of stealing one, then you can see how this has become a big deal.
To some people who don’t understand racing and read the headlines on this lawsuit, it could become humorous, but it’s not. Guns are a big secret in racing and having your secret get out is no good. Being “Blacklisted” as a changer is also no good. Teams won’t risk having secrets get out and finding a job after being accused of it is even harder. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and we wish the best of luck to all those involved. Just wanted to take this opportunity to explain the importance of technology in pit guns in modern day NASCAR.