Clear Your Mind

For years I have witnessed friends pulling into the paddock with their car on the trailer, but when I look around and ask, “Where’s your crew?” I get that look. “What crew? I’m it this weekend.”

Can you imagine Batman without Robin, or how about a dentist with no assistant? “Suction, please. Oh, never mind, I’ll stop what I’m doing and get it.” So, my question is why would anyone in their right mind, spend so much time and money on a racecar and not take the time to build a strong relationship with people they can trust and depend on to help them run a tight ship?

To be a consistently fast driver it’s important to know your car is well prepared before you head out onto the track. The very second your car leaves the paddock and hits the track all those concerns about the car should disappear and the only thing on your mind is driving. Now is not the time to be thinking about what tires you’re going to put on the car for the next session/race, whether you should make a suspension change, what time qualifying is, and so on. These are all things a qualified crew chief or support crew should be taking care of. There’s nothing more comforting than hearing a crew chief telling you, “I got your back. Just drive the car.”

Show me a successful racecar driver and I’ll show you a team. Every single winning car you will ever see, will have a team/group behind them making it all come together and ready to overcome whatever adversity gets in their way. The more dedicated the team, the more successful they are.

Sounds easy, huh? Well, think again. When you built your car, you had to research who makes the most reliable parts, who’s the best and most reliable engine builder, how it is installed, and so on. What I’m trying to say is you just don’t ask your next-door neighbor if he wants to help at the track this weekend simply because he invited you over for barbecue last week. You need to do your homework. First and foremost, you want someone that knows what he’s doing, o,,r at minimum someone’s who is willing to learn. More importantly, you want to find someone who’s willing to make a team commitment. None of this, “I’ll see if I can make it,” BS.

During the off season is the best time to be giving this search some serious thought. Once you have a few prospects in mind, invite them over to the shop and sit down and lay it all out. “I’m looking for a right-hand man or crew chief that I can count on to help during the upcoming season. Here’s the schedule for the upcoming season, the dates, the tracks we would need to get to and so on. Also, here’s a list of responsibilities I would ask you to assist with.” The goal is to find the right fit for your team and be sure to make him feel appreciated and that he or she really is an intricate and valuable part of your team. Let them know you’ll feed them at these events, supply a team uniform and that you’ll find a proper place for their names on the car. Let them know they’re important!

Team building doesn’t just occur out of the blue, and it’s not about individual achievements. It’s about what the group accomplishes while working toward a common goal. Carroll Shelby once told me, “Surround yourself with people who make you look good. They will make you a better driver if you just find the right ones.” You’ll have a much better time at the track once you find the right people, so you can clear your mind and just drive the car.


  1. Unfortunately, those types of people like to get paid and rightly so. A lot of us are lucky to be able to afford to show up at all, that’s what makes this an amateur organization. Still accessible to the little guy.

    • Not once in my years of racing have I ever paid my crew chief or crew a cent. But I did make them know how much they were appreciated. If your finding people who expect pay at this level of grass roots racing, you’re speaking to the wrong people. And believe me, you’ll be surprised when you learn how many great folks are chomping at the bit to be part of a team.

  2. I would love to get any suggestions on how to get some of those folks who are chomping at the bit to help out. I’m retired and don’t get out a lot to meet a lot of new folks. I’ve had a few say they would like to, but it never materializes. I’m not the sort of guy though to push anyone to do something, but rather only to offer the opportunity. It seems like in today’s world, nearly everyone has too much on their plate as it is, for the amount of time in a day.

    If anyone reading this would like to be part of my crew, please, let me know. I have what is finally a very fast car, and I would love to have someone to share the experience with me. I’m in Charlotte, NC. I generally race at CMP, RRR, VIR, and likely in the near future, Road Atlanta, and possibly other tracks, including Birmingham Barber.

    see my car at, and
    see it in action at the last event I was at, at this link:
    you can contact me at [email protected].
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Tim Gray –

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