It’s four o’clock in the morning. While most of the NASCAR world is still asleep, one crew is loading into cars and trucks and leaving the hotel to get the earliest start allowed in the garage.
By the time the gates open to media, they will have completed more work than most teams do in a day.
You have heard about your drivers, your spotters, your crew chiefs. You have your multi-million dollar corporate teams and your small-time "as long as we get the engine" runners.
You have the crew that travels to every event, and you have the unseen crew back at their garages that busted butt to get the car ready for the hauler.
You have the fabricators and the engine tuners and the office workers and PR reps, but no matter how hard you ready that car, it still needs one thing.
Every team, the big dogs and the fighting to survivors, they all go to one place on race weekend to make sure they have exactly what they need to make it through.
That one tent, that one building, that one haven that holds the only thing that every team needs is none other than the Goodyear Tire Tech location.
The Goodyear racing crew, a dedicated blend of full- and part-time technicians, bust their backs to mount and dismount every tire used by every team all weekend long.
From the Championship teams to the first-time starters, every crew depends on the speed and hard work put in by these men in Goodyear Blue.
Every set of Eagles that roll out for the three major series of our beloved sport, has first been inspected, mounted, initialed, stacked, and cataloged.
Keep in mind that on an average race weekend, a typical Cup Series team can go through anywhere from nine to 14 sets of tires; that’s 387 to 602 tires for one event.
When you take into account the massive structure of Daytona, with “speed weeks” events and all three of the top series running at one point or another throughout the two-week stretch, the idea of a few hundred tires becomes closer to a couple thousand.
The weekend starts early for them as they leave for a track many days ahead of the typical race crew. As the haulers pull in, they are already set up, mountains of rims line their work area, as they filter their way through the tasks that lay ahead.
They make it look easy. The grudging monotony of stacking and un-stacking, mounting and un-mounting, the long weekend days beginning as soon as NASCAR will let them enter the track and not ending until the last set from the last team has been checked and accounted for.
They are the unsung heroes of the motorsport world, never hearing about them on the telecasts, never seeing them causing a stir, but always knowing they are right there.
The next time you walk through a NASCAR garage, or sit in the stands as your favorite driver passes by at 190 mph; the next time you watch the aerial scan of the speedway from the comfort of your couch, tip your hats, raise a hand, and give a smile to the boys in Goodyear blue.