What Does a Crew Chief Do in Racing?

What does a crew chief do in racing? Simply put, the crew chief is the race team’s head honcho. They’re the one in charge of the car, the pit crew, and tracking performance. They’re also the one that takes the blame. The crew chief is essentially the race team’s head coach. They know how the car performed on certain tracks in the past, and use that knowledge to predict future races. They tell each team member what their job is both on the track and in the shop. In short? The crew chief does everything. All decisions on the car come from them.

Crew Chiefs Understand Each Racing Element

Every race team has numerous people that work behind the scenes to make the car as fast as possible. Every team member specializes in a certain aspect of the car and its mechanics, but the crew chief must know every area. They also must know what each team member reports. This allows the crew chief to further strategize. They must know how each adjustment will affect the performance of the car and why. Whether they have a degree in mechanical engineering or learned through experience, it’s hard to deny the amount of car knowledge a crew chief has.

Crew Chiefs Lead with Respect

To compare racing to other sports, the crew chief is like the head coach in football or the manager in baseball. They head up a big team that’s very good at what they do, and they must get the best out of that team every day. Not only do they make all the strategic decisions for the team, they must also be the emotional leader for the team. When something goes wrong, the chief lifts everyone up and keeps them calm and focused.

Crew Chiefs Develop Pit Strategies

The biggest strategic decision that a chief faces is on race day, and that’s the pit strategy. It’s his duty to decide when the car should come in for a pit stop. This is the most critical decision that can affect a race’s outcome. Beyond when the car will pit, the chief decides if the car will get fuel and tires, just one or the other, and exactly how many tires. Each decision in the pit will either make the chief the hero or the villain, depending on the outcome.

Crew Chiefs Communicate and Support

Communication between the team and the crew chief is important. The crew chief wears a two-way radio, so they can talk to the driver directly. They can also talk to all the crew members, and the driver will tell the chief how the car is performing. Beyond that, the chief talks to the driver to calm them down during the race. If you’ve ever driven in traffic and have been annoyed by the other drivers, imagine doing it at 200 miles per hour. It’s a very stressful situation, and the driver needs a confident voice on the other end of the radio to reset their focus on the race.

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