HR Strange But True!
June 18, 2005

Wanted: Tire changer. Compensation: Up to $100K.

That's right. You can earn up to $100,000 a year as a tire changer ­ if you don't mind a little pressure.

That's because you'd be a member of a NASCAR pit crew. And you'd better be on the athletic side, because as the Wall Street Journal reports, race car owners are turning to former college athletes as the kind of crew members who can save them valuable seconds in an increasingly high-stakes sport.

Once upon a time, tire changing was the job of the mechanics who'd been working on the car all week. Their physical fitness wasn't an issue. Besides, they were too busy the rest of the week to even practice pit stops. Then came the NASCAR explosion of the 1990s. It brought hundreds of millions of dollars in television and sponsorship revenue into the sport. As the monetary stakes rose, so did the intensity of the competition. That included shaving as many seconds as possible from pit stops, since car owners realized it often made the difference between winning and losing.

That's why teams like Evernham Motorsports look now for college jocks whose strength and speed in the pits can save precious tenths of a second in a race, according to the Journal.

One of them is Bob Downs, a former football player at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He and other members of the Evernham pit crew practice 5 days a week. A coach studies videos to hone their footwork and hand speed. A trainer has them lift weights and run sprints.

"This is a professional sport as far as I'm concerned," Dowens told the Journal recently, drenched in sweat after a morning workout. "It's 95 degrees out, and today we were running an obstacle course. Last week, I was so drained, I almost couldn't eat lunch afterwards. This is as tough as any football practice."

Source: Wall Street Journal

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