Rockingham, N.C. -- The quest for a championship in the 2003 Winston Cup season isn't limited to Sunday races. Pit crews, rather than drivers, are in the spotlight November 8, 2003, at North Carolina Speedway for the 36th annual 76/Rockingham...
Rockingham, N.C. -- The quest for a championship in the 2003 Winston Cup season isn't limited to Sunday races. Pit crews, rather than drivers, are in the spotlight November 8, 2003, at North Carolina Speedway for the 36th annual 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew Competition. The purse for this year's event is $100,000, with $30,000 going to the winning team. Setting a new world record will result in a $10,000 bonus.
Reigning champion -- winning consecutively in 2001 and 2002 -- is Roush Racing's No. 17 DeWalt pit crew for current Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth. The DeWalt crew bettered their own world record last year by .862 seconds, becoming the first crew to break the 16-second barrier since teams began changing four tires. The current world record, and the time teams will aim to beat in 2003, is 16.823 seconds.
Pit crews have made tremendous gains over the years while shortening the amount of time they spend completing a typical pit stop of four tires and fuel. The advances in equipment and training have happened steadily over the past 36 years, but the root of today's pit stop as is witnessed each week can be accredited to racing pioneers the Wood Brothers.
As The Wood Brothers both organized and revolutionized pit road, 76 brand gasoline realized the importance of the pit crews and as a result developed the Union 76 / Rockingham World Pit Crew Competition. Beginning 36 years ago in 1967, Union 76 proudly crowned the first world championship pit crew. Leonard Wood and his Wood Brothers crew were the first champions, changing two tires in 21.992 seconds.
Since 1967, the Union 76 World Pit Crew Competition has been the only NASCAR sanctioned pit crew contest on the circuit. Giving world-class pit crews a time to shine, this event rewards the best of the best with the coveted 'World Championship Pit Crew' title.
Held annually during the fall race weekend at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, the object of the competition is for each crew in the top 25 in points to empty 14 gallons of 76 Gasoline into the car (two cans holding seven gallons each) and change both left- and right-side tires in as short a time as possible. Time penalties are assessed for various infractions including loose lug nuts, fuel spills and fuel left in the gas can. The team with the fastest time becomes the new world champion.
Today's Winston Cup pit crews have refined their performance to an art. Undertaking such activities as mental drills, extensive workouts and cross training are just some of the ways teams reach for perfection. Numerous teams employ full-time physical trainers in order to build the best pit crew.
Past champions of this elite event include such notable teams as Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Petty Enterprises. Richard Childress Racing and the Wood Brothers organization each won the championship a record four times. Roush Racing holds two titles with the No. 17 DeWalt team, but three 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew Championships overall.