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Sports Then and Now


History of NASCAR Pit Crews

Posted on December 07, 2016 by Scott Huntington

One of the most iconic aspects of a NASCAR race is the nonstop, top-speed action of the pit crew on the sidelines. These amazing individuals are in charge of high-speed maintenance and repairs for the cars that are tearing their way around the track. We’ve all probably watched them change a tire in a few seconds, but did you ever wonder how these pit crews got their start?

1950s -- 55 seconds

The Time Before

Races didn’t always need the skills of a pit crew. When racing became a mainstream sport back in the 1950s, most of the races were less than 100 miles, total. The only race that really needed the assistance of pit stop engineers was the Southern 500, which was arguably ahead of its time.

That didn’t mean the shorter NASCAR races didn’t have their own version of the pit crew. Cars would blow tires, bump fenders or destroy engine parts that required replacement in order to keep racing. Until the mid-1950s, all these changes were done by hand. The pneumatic air guns that we’re so used to seeing didn’t make a debut until later in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Back then, the fastest recorded time for a tire change was about 55 seconds utilizing manual tools.

Choreography and Timing

After the pneumatic air gun hit the mainstream and pit technicians were able to change tires and remove faulty parts faster than before, the focus switched to speed and efficiency. By using impact wrenches and much faster floor jacks, pit crews could reduce the time it took to change a tire by 17 seconds.

pit-crews-harrell-2015

Adding choreography and practicing the motions that each pit crew position needed to do brought the overall pit stop time down to 33 seconds.

Specialized Pit Crew Roles

Until now, the idea of pit crews included the concept that everyone was interchangeable. The guy handling the fuel one pit stop could be slinging a tire at the next. Through the late 1970s and early 1980s, the idea of specialized pit crew roles began to emerge.

By creating these specialized roles, pit crews were able to practice and perfect the nuances of their specific role rather than trying to do everything.

Today, the average pit crew is made up of 12 people, each trained to perfect their specific role, including:

  • Front and Rear Tire Carriers: As their name suggests, these are the people who carry the replacement tires into the pit and the worn tires away.
  • Fire and Rear Tire Changers: Changes the tires, handling the impact gun to remove and replace the lug nuts.
  • Jack Man: Operates the hydraulic jack that lifts and lowers the car.
  • Gas Man: As the name suggest, he refuels the car usually using two 12-gallon cans.
  • Support Crew: They pick up any slack and help the crew with little tasks.
  • Car and Crew Chiefs: The car chief figures out the best adjustments to make on the car itself. The crew chief is in charge of the crew.
  • Engineer: Works with the car chief to figure out the exact build for each race car.

There will also be a NASCAR official in the pit to make sure all rules are followed, as well as an extra man that may handle tasks like assisting the driver or cleaning the windshield.

By relying on these specialized roles, pit crews can pull off a four-tire change in an astonishing 12 seconds, getting their drivers back on the track that much faster.

The history of the NASCAR pit crew is an exciting and varied one, and every change and invention has helped it become the efficient machine that keeps races going. NASCAR wouldn’t be the same thing that it is today without the smooth motions and choreographed movements of the pit crew.

75 Years Ago: NFL Action on “A Day That Will Live in Infamy”

Posted on December 04, 2016 by Dean Hybl
December 7, 1941 was Tuffy Leemans' Day at the New York Giants football game.

December 7, 1941 was Tuffy Leemans’ Day at the New York Giants football game.

The first Sunday in December of 1941 began much like Sundays have for years prior and for the 75 years since.  The morning for many included a church service and then was followed by Sunday afternoon National Football League action.

Though the NFL in 1941 was not the Sunday national obsession that it has become over the past 75 years, there was still excitement for the final three games of the regular season.

In New York, a crowd of 55,051 packed the Polo Grounds for “Tuffy Leemans’ Day” as the New York Giants were recognizing their All-Pro running back in the final regular season game of his sixth NFL season. Leemans had led the NFL in rushing with 830 yards as a rookie in 1936 and as was common during the era, he was a multi-threat who also could be a passer, receiver, punt returner and play defense. He would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

The Giants entered the game with an 8-2 record and having already clinched the East Division title. Their opponents, the cross-town rival Brooklyn Dodgers (yes the Brooklyn Dodgers was also the name of an NFL team from 1930-1943) entered the game with a 6-4 record.

Brooklyn had defeated the Giants 16-13 earlier in the season, but a recent loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers had knocked the Dodgers out of contention for the division title.

On this afternoon, Brooklyn All-Pro Pug Manders was a one-man-show as he scored touchdown in the second, third and fourth quarters to give the Dodgers a 21-0 lead. He sandwiched touchdown runs of three and two yards with a 65-yard interception return for a score. The Giants made the final score 21-7 when Kay Fakin caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Hank Soar.

As would be the case in all the NFL Stadiums that day, soon after the Pearl Harbor Bombing commenced at 12:55 Eastern time, the public address announcer told all servicemen in attendance to report to their units immediately.

At Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC, the Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles were each finishing out the season. The Redskins were 5-5 on the year, while the Eagles were 2-7-1 entering the final contest.

In front of a crowd of 27,102, the Eagles scored early on a run by Jack Banta. Future Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh hit Al Krueger for a 19-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to tie the contest.

The Eagles regained the lead in the third quarter with a six-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Thompson to Hank Piro to make the score 14-7.

By the time Baugh tossed a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes to Joe Aguirre to secure the 20-14 victory, many of the initial audience was likely gone. Soon after the bombings, the Public Address Announcer started to page high-ranking government and military leaders, though he did not mention the attacks. Read the rest of this entry →

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How Sports Management Has Changed Thanks to Technology

Posted on November 24, 2016 by John Harris

mlb-technologyThere are some huge differences between the sport of a few decades ago and the sport of today. One of the things that have seen many changes is sports management. Technology has meant that managers now carry out their work in many different ways. It has improved communication, documentation and the ability to analyze performance. Here are some of the key ways that tech has changed sports management.

Improved Communication

Communication in sports management is much more instant today, just like it is in any other arena. People now not only carry a personal phone with them, but that phone is also essentially a computer. They can contact anyone instantly by phone or using the internet. Social media is another key method of communication that has changed how sports managers operate.

Recording Games

The process to record sports footage just a few decades ago was slow and laborious. Today, like many things, it’s an almost instant process. Any sports manager can use a handheld device to record footage and watch it back instantly. This greatly improves their ability to view and share a video of players. Read the rest of this entry →

Then and Now: Softball’s History and Evolution

Posted on November 23, 2016 by John Harris
The history of softball dates back to 1887.

The history of softball dates back to 1887.

While common conjecture assumes softball is the younger sibling of baseball (which isn’t too far off), this sport actually evolved thanks to cold weather, boredom, and a football game. Back in 1887, Yale and Harvard graduates were battling the chill and boredom during a Yale versus Harvard game. When it was discovered that Yale defeated its competitor, an enthusiastic Yale grad threw an old boxing glove at a Harvard spectator, who returned in kind by attempting to knock the glove back with a stick—his makeshift form of a bat. George Hancock watched with delight nearby, and concocted the idea of an indoor baseball game, and spectators flocked to play this impromptu game. He tied together a boxing glove in a makeshift ball, then chalked the bases and pitcher’s box.

Fast forward almost a century and a half, and today’s version of softball is enjoyed by over 40 million players. So how did we get from a tied-up boxing glove to today’s leagues? Track the evolution of one of America’s sports and see what it took to transform the game as we know it.

Softball Begins to Spread

After Hancock’s inventive game was spread, it became a popular pastime in Chicago that winter. While originally intended for baseball players to partake in for practice during inclement weather, softball soon took on its own importance and play was transferred to the outdoor field. It took off, and softball began to spread through the Midwest. As rules were created and amended during the following decade, it was referred to as kitten baseball, diamond ball, pumpkin ball, and even mush ball, before finally earning the official moniker of softball in 1926. Read the rest of this entry →

Injured Playing Sports? What Do You Do Next?

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Kara Masterson

injured-playing-sportsThe old days of playing through the pain are over. Sports injuries can potentially end your career if you don’t take appropriate measures. Doctors, trainers, and coaches now know that it is pointless to keep you in the game with an injury. Apart from worsening the injury, playing through an injury may have adverse psychological effects. Take the following steps if you get injured during sports:

Stop Playing

The moment you notice an injury, or experience increasing pain in any body organ, the first thing you should do is to stop playing at once. Since the umpire or referee may not have noticed it, you need to catch their attention by lying on the ground or alerting team members. If it is too serious, accept the medical team to stretcher you off for attention.

Get Medical Attention

When you experience an injury in the course of play, you need to establish the extent of the injury by seeking medical attention. Your team doctor will conduct the principal diagnosis before making any prescriptions or giving further advice. Don’t take any sports injury lightly, however, slight it may be. What appears a little damage may easily escalate if you don’t take proper measures. Read the rest of this entry →

5 Tips for an Awesome Sunday Football Party

Posted on November 14, 2016 by Matt Rhoney
Even officials making awful calls won't spoil a great football party.

Even officials making awful calls won’t spoil a great football party.

As we continue to venture deeper into the football season there comes about an awesome opportunity to get great friends together for old fashion fun, Although, many Sunday football fans are happy to spend an afternoon catching the game at the neighborhood bar, why not enjoy the comfort of your own home and host your own game watching party? Here are some tips for making it a party that’s sure to impress friends and family:

Set Up a Party Zone

When planning your invite list, you may notice you have some friends who love football, but their spouses or partners may have no interest in the game. Instead of making the party exclusive, set up a separate party area in your home for people to sit and socialize rather than being “shushed” by die hard fans watching the game on TV.

Delegate Dishes

Depending on the size of your invite list, you may want to make your party a potluck or at least a BYOB. One of the nice things about hosting a potluck style type of party is that you can taste a nice variety of foods. You can either ask your guests to bring a favorite game day food or delegate a dish to pass. It’s likely that your friends won’t mind as long as you provide the large screen television and surround sound.

Set Up Food Stations

If you’re planning to serve a large meal or have a BBQ, you probably won’t eat until the game is over. If you set up a snack bar (think pretzels, soda, and popcorn) you will keep your guests fighting off hunger while watching the game. If your guests are planning on staying all day, set up a dessert area and a pot of coffee. Setting up food stations will not only keep your guests satisfied, but will save you work in the kitchen so you have more time to socialize and catch the game. Read the rest of this entry →

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