NASCAR's top-tier hauler drivers started out on a few-week long odyssey around Easter. For some it is still ongoing.
The Nationwide tour headed west in early April from the Charlotte area to their annual event over the holiday weekend in Nashville. There are a few that haven't been home yet and will not see home for a while.
Racing in Music City then doubling back to Charlotte only to head west again to Phoenix is an option. Well-equipped teams have second transporters that are put into play on sections of the racing schedule that are aligned this way.
The better-funded groups have a testing transporter that can be put into good service. Lesser-budgeted teams will use a pickup and enclosed trailer to move equipment, similar looking to a grassroots level racing team.
A portion of the Nationwide group sent a truck and trailer to Nashville to meet up with the primary hauler. Cars, parts and supplies were exchanged in place of an Easter dinner with the family. The race transporter then continued on westward to Phoenix. The Cup Series transporters also were driving to Phoenix very early that week.
Following the Phoenix action all the haulers drove east, but only so far. Those secondary transporters moved more race team stock from North Carolina to the Midwest and met up with the primary race trucks just north of Texas. A convenient truck stop or parking lot was organized ahead of time while team members unloaded and loaded two cars from each transporter.
Now we have rain playing havoc with the Texas schedule with no race action taking place on Saturday or Sunday. Nationwide and Cup teams face racing early on weekdays in Texas while cars and spare parts housed near Charlotte need to be in Talladega on Thursday.
Each organization has different amounts of planes, employees, trucks, and money. Some truck drivers will be steering into and out of the Tarheel State with a turnaround as short it takes the crew to form the assembly line in the cargo area.
And for a few of the Nationwide Series hauler drivers, they will have been on the road for more than three weeks, living in hotels and sleepers. These are the kind of people who make sacrifices and get the job done so races can happen.
The spring and autumn contain events in Phoenix and Fort Worth that are back to back. That makes it easier on the team's behalf to piggy back their spare cars on the secondary trucks so complete cross country trip are not necessary on either end of the schedules.
Right now the tough part is that Phoenix, Texas, and Talladega require completely different cars with no crossover uses for any chassis. So for instance a backup machine would not be effective from one speedway to the next during this stint.
Under ideal conditions, the polite way to describe the logistics of this time is challenging. The Texas rainout added an even more level of difficulty to being on a NASCAR team and giving up your home life.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR mechanic who contributes to the One and Done auto racing radio talk show. Listen at www.wsicweb.com)
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