I get asked all the time, who makes the best pit crew members? I think the people asking the question want a simple answer like…a football player! Problem is, there’s really not a defined mold that coaches look for that works every time. Some teams are loaded with ex college athletes and some are not. Both teams compete at a high level but have different backgrounds for their pit crew members. I think a good analogy is golf….let me explain.
Years ago there was a golfer named Tiger Woods (sarcasm), arguably the most dominant golfer and athlete of all time. He was athletic, strong, fearless, and could play the game of golf better than anyone. He was the mold you would want every golfer to fit that was coming up. But then you have Phil Mickelson, a rather fluffy looking golfer who was also one of the best golfers of his time. He was the opposite of Woods in stature but competed with him for years. Both great golfers but with totally different make-ups.
Pit road is like that. You have some of the best tire changers on pit road that never played a high school sport! They’re kicking the crap out of elite athletes and to the uninformed fan it would seem very unlikely. See, pitting is a skill that takes time to perfect. It takes as much mental toughness as it does physical. Does it help to be ultra athletic and have those qualities…..absolutely, but its not necessary. Yes, there are times when running around the car and having the strength to do your job helps, but ultimately it’s a skill that requires thousands of reps to master and a high level of mental toughness.
Obviously, if you find that guy that was an elite athlete with mental toughness like Michael Phelps, you win! But looking for one mold to fit all situations on pit road is not where its at. The NFL loves the 40, the bench press, hand size, and everything else that fits their mold to becoming a great NFL player. Only problem is that assessment failed when it came to Tom Brady! Good teams and coaches find the best fit for their program and they make it work. So the next time you see a great crewmen at the track, ask what their background is, it might surprise you!