It’s race day! The drivers are zooming around the track at breakneck speed. Most of us would pass out just from the G-forces throwing them around in the corners. And yet, one of the fastest and most hectic parts of the entire event isn’t even on the main track: it’s on pit road.
Pit crews have to change all the tires, add fuel to the tank, and perform any other maintenance that’s needed. All of this while sprinting around and trying to stay organized. It’s a tough job, but they pull it off. And believe it or not, many tools they use are also tools you can have in your very own garage, to be the pit crew for your own race car.
1. Pump Jack
The job of the jack man is absolutely crucial to the success of a race car driver. As cars rip around the track at upwards of 200 miles per hour, their tires will inevitably wear down and need replacing. The first task in the pit is using a pump jack to lift the frame of the car. If you need to change the tires on your ride, you can use the tool the pros use. Just slide it under the frame of the car, pump it, and you’re ready to slap some new wheels on.
2. Impact Wrench
Changing a tire with a standard wrench is an invaluable skill in life, but it can take a pretty long time. When you’re under pressure to get your car back out on the track as quickly as possible, and there’s no better way than using an impact wrench. Real pit crews use standardized ½-inch pneumatic impacts since they’re lighter and faster than electric. If you only need to get your truck ready for the weekend though, a cordless impact driver will be plenty fast to get you back on the road.
3. Air Compressor
Nascar pit crews actually use compressed nitrogen to power their pneumatic tools, rather than air. Nitrogen is more stable in a variety of conditions, meaning there’s a lower chance of their tools malfunctioning under pressure.
While a nitrogen compressor isn’t something you’re likely to need, a trusty standard air compressor is a great addition to any shop. Whether you’re using air tools, filling tires or inflatables, or cleaning up, it’s a comfort to have in the corner when you need it.
4. Gas Can
A NASCAR gas tank needs to be refilled within seconds while the car is stopped in the pit. They use specialized gravity-fed dump tanks which empty several gallons per second to get the driver back out on the track as fast as possible.
You may not need to fill your tank in just mere moments like the pros do, spare gas cans are good for many other reasons. It’ll hold a little extra fuel for a big road trip, a generator, or any other outdoor power equipment. Be ready to top off whenever you need it.
5. Duct Tape
Duct tape really fixes everything. When pit crews need to get their driver back on the road, a little bit of silver can make all the difference between being on the podium or being in the audience. If you haven’t already figured out how useful the silver tape can be, you’re missing out. “It fixes everything” is almost an understatement.
6. Extention Pole
Extension poles have many uses in pitstops. They hold the flags to indicate where drivers should stop, called “lollipops” for their distinctive shape. Another use is to clean off windows and other surfaces of the car without having to reach over the roof. Use an extension pole with a squeegee to keep your car sleek and aerodynamic, and you’ll feel like a champion driving anywhere.
For the best grip and to protect your hands, always have a good pair of work gloves around. Whether you’re moving tires, changing the oil, or gassing up, your hands will be safe and clean. Be sure to take them off though when you grab a snack for the driver (you). A sturdy pair of Mechanix gloves is what the pros wear on the big day.
8. Knee Pads
Nascar tire changes have to happen as a fast as possible, and crews rehearse like a dance troupe to get all the motions down. While the car is jacked up, a solid pair of knee pads lets the tire changer slide in to remove lug nuts from old tires. Without pads, their knees would be torn up and bruised by the pavement by the end of the race.
Even though you might not be sliding around a chaotic race track, you’ll be glad you have them any time you work low to the ground. You can also wear them next time you go rollerblading and live out your 80’s nostalgia.
9. Safety Glasses
A pit crew is only as useful as it’s members, so their safety is absolutely crucial. Always wear safety glasses, especially when working in a fast-paced and hectic environment.
10. Pit Box
Repairs during the race have to be fast, and tool boxes have to be right there with all the utensils crewmen need to make quick adjustments. Pit boxes are not your average tool chest either: they are much bigger and have large wheels for mobility. They’re made to hold thousands of pounds of hand tools and still load easily in and out of trailers. Some even have sophisticated disk brakes to help their maneuverability.
A tool that might surprise you by being used in pit crews is a mallet, hammer, or any other blunt force instrument. When something needs adjustments and needs it fast, there isn’t much room for being delicate.
We at Acme Tool do not recommend using a standard hammer to remove dents and dings from your own car. A much more useful tool is a deadblow hammer. The plastic head of a deadblow hammer will not scratch paint or dent wood like a normal one might. The slower strikes also give you much greater control over how much force you use.
12. Vise Grips
The original Vise Grips locking pliers by Irwin are an incredibly handy tool while working on your car. Once they shut, they stay closed on their own, essentially giving you a third hand while working. They adjust to any size you need, so they can help get that pesky off-size nut. If you need extra torque to get anything done, a good set of vise grips is what you need.