Bristol Skoal Racing Preview

SKOAL RACING'S UNSUNG HEROES CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When the Skoal Racing team arrives at Bristol Motor Speedway, they'll have a few more crew members to lend a helping hand. Since the Andy Petree Racing shop is located outside Asheville, N.C.,...

SKOAL RACING'S UNSUNG HEROES

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When the Skoal Racing team arrives at Bristol Motor Speedway, they'll have a few more crew members to lend a helping hand. Since the Andy Petree Racing shop is located outside Asheville, N.C., many of the team members who don't normally travel will make the 85-mile trip to the half-mile oval on their motorcycles.

They're the ones, the unsung heroes, that get the Skoal Racing Monte Carlo prepared for the next NASCAR Winston Cup event. At Andy Petree Racing, about 40 crew members never get to the race track. These crew members stay at the East Flat Rock, N.C., shop to see to it that the No.33 Skoal Racing Monte Carlo, driven by Ken Schrader, is ready for each race.

Being behind the scenes takes the guys out of the limelight, but they are still considered the unsung heroes at Skoal Racing.

Marc Parks has been with the Skoal Racing Team since Harry Gant drove for Leo Jackson. He has come through the ranks over the past 10 years and is now the shop foreman for the No. 33 team.

"When the hauler returns from a race weekend, we unload the car, assess the damage and basically strip the car of its wiring, suspension and motor," said Parks. "If the car is damaged, we cut off the wrinkled sheet metal and turn the car over to the fabrication or body department, depending on the damage."

NASCAR Winston Cup teams have multiple race cars in their shop, but only one transporter. With only three days in the shop to turn the truck around and get ready for the next weekend, time and efficiency is of the utmost importance.

"Deadlines and time are our biggest enemies," said Parks. "We're always searching for new ways to do things or a better routine. If I can get the car to the surface plate faster, then Wally Rogers (car chief) has more time to work at a better set-up for the race track."

Trace Cochran works in the paint and body shop for the Skoal Racing team and is constantly under the gun along with the rest of the shop.

"Time is the biggest problem we have in the paint and body shop," said Cochran. "Aside from time, last minute changes to the body are always a sore subject. Not because of the change, but because they're last minute and I can't get the car to my satisfaction. The guys that set the car up just want the car in time to do what they need to do, but like them, I take pride in the way the car looks when it leaves my shop. I want it to be perfect before it goes to the detail shop.

"The biggest satisfaction I get from my job is the way the No. 33 Skoal Racing Monte Carlo looks while making laps on the track."

For Robert Reeves in the engine room, he's always looking for more horses under the hood of the No. 33 Skoal Racing Monte Carlo.

"I am responsible for the research and development of the motors for the Winston Cup effort at Andy Petree Racing," said Reeves. "We are always looking for ways that might improve our horsepower. Once we develop new ideas, we implement those ideas on the test motors. Once we put those ideas into the motor, we run the motor on the dynometer to see if the new idea has actually created more horsepower. We try the new ideas on test motors because we don't want to take a chance on something happening during a race.

"We're always striving to find more horsepower. You can never have enough horsepower."

Time is of the essence for the Skoal Racing team to be one step ahead of the competition, but one common thread remains among all the employees - taking pride in their work on the No. 33 Skoal Racing Monte Carlo.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader , Andy Petree , Harry Gant