NASCAR releases new access policy at Winston Cup races

Access policy for NASCAR Winston Cup addresses safety, security.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2003) -- The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has instituted an access policy for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series garage and pit areas, designed to alleviate overcrowding and improve safety and security in the 2003 season and beyond.

Michigan fans on pitlane.
Photo by Bobby Hainline.

The policy, which goes into effect next month for season-opening events at Daytona International Speedway, is based on the designation of "hot" and "cold" times in the garage and pit areas and the requirement that some people have a "hot pass" allowing them garage and pit road access during "hot" times.

NASCAR and its tracks will issue "hot passes" prior to and during a race weekend. Those passes must be accompanied by a normal NASCAR or track-issued paper credential for access during hot times.

Those possessing a NASCAR season credential -- commonly referred to as a "hard card" -- will not be required to have a hot pass. Accredited news media personnel will have the access they have been granted in past seasons.

"Hot" times for the garage will begin 30 minutes prior to any scheduled on-track race-car activity, and will end approximately 10 minutes after the on-track activity -- including practices, qualifying sessions and races -- concludes. At other times the garage will be considered "cold."

In addition to the garage restrictions, pits will be designated as hot 30 minutes prior to the start of a race and will remain so until a race ends.

"Our goal is to reduce the number of people in the garage and in the pits," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president for corporate communications. "We want to significantly reduce the number of people."

To help facilitate adherence to the access policy, large, red, strobe-like lights will be prominently positioned in the garage area to signify hot times.

NASCAR reviewed the issue of allowing autographs in the garage area and determined the establishment of hot and cold times should inherently reduce the number of autograph-seekers.

NASCAR will continue to monitor the new access policy as the season unfolds, and will make changes as needed.

Said NASCAR President Mike Helton: "We're constantly working to improve the environment for everyone involved with NASCAR Winston Cup racing. This policy is all about two issues -- safety and security. And this policy should improve the environment considerably."


What is a "hot" pass?

* A hot pass, which will be issued by NASCAR and track during a race weekend, allows the holder access into the garage area and pit area during "hot times." A hot pass by itself will not allow the holder access; it must be accompanied by a credential issued by NASCAR or a track.

What is the difference between "hot" and "cold" times?

* A hot time for the garage area is defined as a period beginning 30 minutes before any on-track race-car activity, and ending approximately 10 minutes after that activity. All other times are considered cold. A hot time for the pits is defined as a period beginning 30 minutes before the start of a race, and ending when the race ends.

What is the reasoning behind the access policy?

* To significantly reduce the number of people who have access to the garage and pits during a race weekend and, in the process, increase safety and security in the garage and pits.

Will media be issued hot passes?

* Media members who have a NASCAR-issued season credential -- commonly referred to as a "hard card" -- will not need a hot pass for garage/pit area access. Other accredited media members who do not possess a hard card will have to request a hot pass.

Will other "hard-card" holders be required to have hot passes for garage/pit area access?

* No. Those possessing a hard card will have access during hot and cold times.