Growth Trends for Related Jobs
In recent years, NASCAR reduced the number of members allowed in its pit crews from six people to five. This means crews will have to work even faster and more collaboratively than they ever have before, swapping out tires and adding fuel at lightning speed. Reducing the number of people in the pit crews improves team safety and highlights the athletic nature of the job. Being a crew member in a NASCAR race is somewhat like an athletic performance, with every move choreographed to perfection.
Pit crews are important members of the racing team because they take care of a race car's mechanical needs during pit stops. During pit stops, the car is refueled, tires are changed and any necessary repairs are made. Pit stops need to be quick, because they happen during a race, and the longer it takes the crew to fix up the car, the more time the driver is losing. Fifteen seconds is the average length of a pit stop.
The jobs of the five-person pit crew include carrying and changing tires. Four members are responsible for this part of the job. A fifth person serves as the fueler and is prohibited from any other pit-stop duties.
In order to become a member of a pit crew, you must know your way around a car. Take mechanics classes at your local community college. Apprentice for a mechanic or enroll in an auto repair school and earn a certificate. There are several schools in the U.S. that train students who want to work on a professional pit crew. A school in North Carolina called the Hedgecock Racing Academy offers a nine-week course. Another North Carolina school near Charlotte called Pit Crew U offers an eight-week course, and a 15-week NASCAR Technician Training program is available at the Universal Technical Institute, which has 12 locations across the U.S.
Pit crew members, especially those who work for NASCAR, must be physically fit because the work can be strenuous and athletic.
In May of 2016, the median annual wage for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $38,470, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest 10 percent earned more than $64,070, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,470.
However, this doesn't come close to what you can make working on a NASCAR pit crew. One tire carrier in 2015 reportedly made $100,000 annually.
Being a member of a NASCAR pit crew is an intensive job. There are typically 36 weeks of travel annually and 49 weeks of aerobic and strength training. It's a fast-paced, adrenaline-packed environment and many pit crew members are former athletes.
Job Growth Trend
Between 2016 and 2026, employment for automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 6 percent. That's about the average rate for all occupations.
NASCAR pit crews are in a different league. Because this job requires such physical strength and endurance, compared to a typical auto mechanic's job, careers are often short-lived and the jobs themselves are more competitive. With the new NASCAR rule that reduced the number of pit crew members from six to five, there are even fewer jobs today.
Heather Skyler is a journalist and novelist who has written for wide variety of publications, including Newsweek, The New York Times and SKY magazine.