Machine tools are often used in the production of other machines. Elements of NASCAR whether it’s the fast cars or the tracks they race on are technological wonders that incorporate many tools not to mention power-operated ones that are used to cut and shape metal and other materials.
We recently caught up with Jay Donnay, Director of Operations for the Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida that hosts the NASCAR season-ending Ford Championship Week every November.
Donnay briefed us on the tools, including machine tools, used in the NASCAR cars as well as facilities where these high-tech marvels compete.
Question: What tools are mainly used on the cars during the race?
A NASCAR pit team does not bring out a full-arsenal of tools during a race to work on a car.
“They won’t totally rebuild a car during a race,” Donnay says. “They will use a spare car if the main one dramatically fails.”
During the heat of the race, a NASCAR racecar gets dinged up. It might hit the wall and require some bodywork to fix the “bumps and bruises.” The pit crew might use some lightweight grinders, saws and Porta Power kits in case the car is bent in the frame and the team needs to straighten it out.
Question: What tools do your crews use most at the Speedway?
The Speedway garage uses about 75 various tools valued at approximately $15,000 for the maintenance of the Speedway track and grounds.
Donnay reports that, of the machine tools, the bench grinder gets the most work. For example, a piece broke off the lawn mower last week. A mechanic needed to grind the piece before welding it back on to the lawn mower.
The Speedway garage mostly utilizes torches, welding equipment and basic drills such as drill presses, battery-operated drills and corded ones. The Speedway also utilizes power tools like a jigsaw to cut patterns in wood but does not require extensive metal-shaping work that a lathe would provide.
Question: If you had to build a new track, what tools would you start with?
If Donnay were to start a new speedway, among his first purchases would be a sweeper and a jet dryer to keep the track clean.
The sweeper is similar to what you see on highways and roads – basically, a truck that acts as a street sweeper. The jet dryer is a jet turbine attached to a truck that blows out highly pressurized air to dry and clean a racetrack.
“When it comes to track preparation, the surface of the race track is the most important thing,” Donnay reports. “The cars are not going to be able to perform if the race track isn’t ready.”
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