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The drama of pit 18


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      Jeremy Clements Racing runs out of Spartanburg, South Carolina where most of the crew lives and works. As we mentioned in part one, the family operation owns and supports the 04 car, currently sponsored by Boudreaux's Butt Paste®, Appling Boring, and (for this weekend anyway) See photo page and the links below.
      The operation appears to be as much a hobby for most of those involved as it is a dedicated full time job. Such as the pit road 'catch can man' Kenny is the owner of a boring company, which also is one of the sponsors of the car.
      Their equipment is, to be honest, adequate, and that's about it. This is a no frills operation.
      On pit road you have massive 'war wagon' boxes with decks on top that will hold almost a dozen people. They have on board compressors and generators, some have satellite dishes for TV reception, and at least one was its own voice enabled wifi hub that could talk back to the truck and the garage to keep everybody up to date with everything. (see photos)
      The 04 crew only brought what was absolutely required to put the car on the track, and only did what needed to be done to keep it there, and did it all with what they had.
      To say they did it for 'the love of the sport' might be a bit overly poignant, and calling this piece 'the drama of...' may be overly melodramatic, but both appear to be true.

      Perhaps now is the time to mention the team's charities of choice, Racing for a Cause which supports the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorder. As well as the Motor Racing Outreach, Focus Motorsports Ministry, and the Antonia Petrina Tersillo Memorial Scholarship Fund. (see links below)
      Jeremy has promised to donate ten percent of his winnings to these groups, which can be a sizable amount of money even if he doesn't win a race. For the 2009 season, Jeremy won over two hundred thousand dollars while running in only 12 races with an average finish in the mid-twenties. Not bad considering this is a small, underfunded, partial season team.

      There are also disadvantages to being a small, underfunded, partial season team with associate sponsors that nobody has ever heard of and that doesn't have the flashy truck and state of the art pit box and tailored matching jumpsuits and pretty girls in T-shirts handing out bumper stickers and other freebies to the public.
      You tend to get the wrong sort of extra attention from race officials.
      Case in point.
      On or about lap 84, just after the first round of pit stops, the Desk heard Race Control call down to the officials on pit road to have the 04 come back in and have the check valve on the fuel tank looked at.
      OK, this is a safety issue, if it isn't sealing tight as the car goes through its gyrations on the track it could easily spill gasoline onto the track. Besides being a fire hazard, it could cause a car to spinout and hit the wall or another car.
      The driver dutifully brought the car back in and one of the crew and an official inspected the part in question, then the official called into Race Control that "the Oh Four is good".
      They did exactly the same thing after the next fuel stop, effectively taking the 04 out of competition. There wasn't anything wrong with the check valve either time.
      Are the officials just doing due diligence? Or are they letting a minor team know that their efforts to make the race and compete on the track are not appreciated? Do they believe that if you're a family run operation with a thin budget that you're going to run a car with substandard or even unsafe parts?
      The Desk is not given to wild conspiracy theories, but you have to wonder.

      But Jeremy qualified on speed and started the race in thirty-eighth position. He made progress during the event and at one time early in the event was running in the mid-twenties, which was very good given that the car had some issues with the steering that wasn't repairable in the pits.

      Also during the event track Security and Safety patrolled the grounds and kept things in check. For instance: There is a marked 'travel lane' on the pavement behind the pits. You are not supposed to stand there to watch the race, if you did, they will tell you to move so tire dollies and guys with empty gas cans and all of that can get through.
      They also enforce the dress code for Pit Road that comes down from NASCAR, including that you must not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts, and no open toed shoes. This writer saw this in action when one of the security people told a woman sitting in the grass between the sidewalk and the fence to put her shoes back on during the race. She complied immediately.
      Other than that flagrant flaunting of the Shoe Law, there were no other major disruptions to the general order and true spirit of the sport from those in attendance that day.
      One item of note that NASCAR may wish to address: Pit Road during a race is Loud. Actual readings taken at other races were fairly consistently over 100 decibels, sometimes peaking in the 120 range. Even short term exposure to noise levels of that magnitude can do permanent damage to your hearing. While Security and Safety were all worried about people taking their shoes off, they repeatedly walked by people without any sort of hearing protection, not even those small earplugs you can buy next to chainsaw supplies. (a chainsaw runs at about 115 db)
      The occupational health people recommend that maximum exposure to noise levels much over 100 decibels be less than ten minutes to avoid the risk of hearing loss. The race in question lasted about two hours.
      Hearing protection is NOT part of the dresscode to get on Pit Road. The 'no swimsuit' rule is enforced, but ear protection is not part of the picture. Both would seem to be common sense, but evidently they are not.

      Back to the other side of the marked walkway, which served as the line between those interested observers with their closed toe shoes on, and the pits where the crews worked in a mad frenzy every time the cars came down Pit Road, and then they spent the rest of the time.... well...

      Being on the pit crew on a major touring series is a lot like what you hear veterans say it is like in combat during a war "long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror", instead of terror though, you have moments of absolutely precise well orchestrated action with power tools and large, heavy and more or less awkward supplies, interspersed with long periods of boredom. After all, you can only make sure the lugnuts are glued to the rims or that the catch can is empty so many times before you go nuts yourself.
      Think about it, before the race starts, the car is pushed by hand everywhere it goes. Through the inspection lane, out to pit road to qualify, then back to the lineup in the garage, and finally back out to the pits before the start of the race. The only time the thing is under its own power is during the race. And it is the pit crew that pushes it everywhere. Then during the race, they have to move quickly and with definite purpose around the car, with other cars coming and going the whole time, in a prescribed order, and do so in about a dozen seconds, with that thunderous noise in the background that we've already mentioned.
      And nothing associated with a pit stop is light and easy to handle. A racing tire and rim combination weighs in excess of fifty pounds (23 Kilograms), and the ones coming off the car are blazing hot! A full gas can comes in at around sixty pounds (27 K) and they will use two during the stop. Even the specialized floor jack used to lift the side of the car is heavier than you think it would be as some weigh about forty pounds (18 K).
      The argument about whether or not the driver is an 'athlete' may still rage in some circles, however, their pit crews are in great shape, they have to be!

      The Pit Road crew of the 04 wasn't fancy either. They functioned well together and performed their stops in good time and with no major functional issues. The only difference being that while the crews on either side had matching jumpsuits and helmets with the sponsors logo all over them, the team from the 04 didn't. There were men from at least two other teams helping out to get the Clements' car in and out for pit stops. To them, the only thing that really mattered was doing a good job because at the next race, it might be their own team that needs a helping hand.

      In the end, Jeremy put in 166 good laps before ignition and steering problems forced his car off the track and into the garage. He ended the day in thirty-third place, five spots up from where he started, and he didn't scrub his car up against the wall to bring out a caution like some other 'big name' media darling driver with a fancy team and even groupies at the track who finished further down the list but still made the evening sports reports, but that's a bit for another time.
      It was a good effort for his first time challenging the Monster, and there is a good chance they'll be back again. Which means they'll need another associate sponsor, which means you can go to..... yeah, well, you know. (see links below for a hint)
      The team plans to make another run at it in Kansas next week. We wish them well.


For it's part after the race the Desk had a pocket full of dead batteries, a touch of sunburn, and a couple of those spent lug nuts as souvenirs of the day which you can see in the Photo Pages.

To Picture Page 1

all outside links will open in a new window

The charities for the Clements' team:
American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorder through
APFED's Website:

Motor Racing Outreach

The team's charity listing page with contact info for the others.

The Sponsors of the team as listed in the story:'s website is

And Boudreaux's Butt Paste® has:

Other Links of Interest
the NASCAR Nationwide Series:

The Dover Speedway main site

Hearing Loss info:

And the site for the Desk's Partner, Business Manager, Agent, Editor, Primary Contact, Lead Photographer, and.... ahhhh.... something else.... oh yeah, it's Wife!
us, there, with that

photo taken by The Desk

Page one of the Event Coverage article, and to Picture Page 1

[NOTE: For the day in question, the Desk, a Professional Freelance Journalist, was essentially working as a stringer to capture the overall essence of the event for the sponsor. This article and accompanying photo display pages are the results of that effort. All observations are by the Desk, all conclusions are his own, and may not represent anything in the real world from, by, or of anybody else.
    All photos were taken by either the Desk, or Mrs. Desk, who owns and controls the copyright of said images. All names and identifying marks, including the teams, the sponsors, the track, the sanctioning body, and everybody and everything else are owned by their respective owners and are used here as part of the event coverage. If any said entity objects to their inclusion by name, said words will be removed. If there are any questions or issues with the photos, said questions will be forwarded to Mrs. Desk. You may contact the Desk at: DrLeftover{!a~t!}TheMediaDesk{!d0t!}com (email scrambled due to spammer robots).
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