Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the day “February 28, 2016”

Pit Stop Racing

A custom-built low-profile C-Head churnless BoonJon, race-prepped and awaiting the call to start engines.

A custom-built low-profile C-Head churnless BoonJon, race-prepped and awaiting the call to start engines.

A NASCAR racing team known as the Wood Brothers, begun in 1950 and still existing today, made waves in the 1960s and 1970s by altering the ordinary pit stop into its own competitive event. Early NASCAR races were generally short, maybe 100 miles. About the only reason to come into the pit was to repair crash damage or change a flat tire. The latter was accomplished with a bumper jack and a star wrench, and could take a minute to do at full steam. A close race would be lost, but oh well. So pit stops were simply fate or bad luck – except for the Southern 500 in Darlington, which also debuted in 1950. There, enough pit stops were needed that they could skew the finishing results a heap. Smokey Yunick is credited with being the first to toss his bumper jack for a hydraulic floor jack in the mid-fifties, probably because he was already using them in his truck shop. By the time the new Daytona 500 track weighed in in 1959, Ingersol Rand had a rep on hand to hawk pneumatic lug wrenches the following year, and they went over like a keg of rum at a prison camp.

The occasional claim that the Wood Brothers “invented the pit stop” is about as valid as the sloppy journalism behind the claim that Henry Ford invented the assembly line. That a faster pit stop could alter a car’s finishing position was accepted doctrine. That faster pit stops were good was also obvious. What the Wood Brothers did was to Read more…

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