You may be asking how NASCAR jacks work after watching a race and noticing that they are nothing like jacks used on a production car. Playing such a key role during pit stops, they are built and operated in a unique way, and so NASCAR jacks work differently to those you might be familiar with.
NASCAR jacks work by using a single pump to lift the car onto two wheels so tire changers and carriers can remove the old tires and add fresh tires to the car. NASCAR jacks are also built with aluminum, which gives them a lighter weight than jacks used for production cars.
Below, we will further explain how NASCAR jacks work. We will also discuss what type of jacks NASCAR cars use and answer common questions such as how many jacks are used in a pit stop and whether NASCAR will ever switch to using air jacks, as seen in many other racing series.
What Jacks Do NASCAR Cars Use?
NASCAR uses jacks from the brand Pit Boss. The specific jacks they use are specialty, one-pump jacks that allow NASCAR pit crews to lift the car up into the air very rapidly, for pit stop times of about 12-16 seconds. They also use a garage jack known as the Shop Boss.
When you watch a NASCAR pit stop, you already know how quickly the jackman lifts the car onto two wheels so the pit crew can provide appropriate service to the machine. And if you know anything about NASCAR, it is that they need different components not just for the car but also for some of the tools that the car requires to operate at peak capacity.
So while they may look identical to tools you use for your road car, they are not. NASCAR jacks are one of those tools. For that reason, NASCAR has used Pit Boss jacks since 1995. Not only does NASCAR trust Pit Boss, but the entire stock car racing world has put its faith behind the brand.
About Pit Boss
John Bickford started Pit Boss when he was looking for a better type of jack to augment the time of his stepson’s pit stop. His stepson became quite famous on the NASCAR scene, as he is none other than Jeff Gordon, a Hall of Fame driver who spent his career racking up four NASCAR Cup championships with Hendrick Motorsports.
Garrett Andrews’ CSI acquired Pit Boss in 2020 and relocated the company to Brownsburg, Indiana. Andrews, who once worked under Bickford, also has a company called Competition Suspension Inc. under his CSI umbrella, along with PitLogic and KT Steering Service. Each of the aforementioned brands serves the racing community in one way, shape, or form worldwide.
Type Of Pit Boss Jack NASCAR Uses
When you watch a NASCAR pit stop closely, you may notice that the jackman gives one powerful pump and nothing more. This is because they are using what is called the one-pump race jack, which requires one powerful motion to lift the car onto its two wheels so the tire changers, tire carrier, and jackman can provide service to the machine.
NASCAR teams also use a garage jack called the Shop Boss. Just like the jacks you see on pit road, these contraptions are made from high-quality aluminum, with tight specs to provide the best possible tool to use when NASCAR cars pull behind the wall.
How Do NASCAR Jacks Work?
NASCAR jacks work by using a strong set of hydraulics with their aluminum construction to lift the cars into the air. If the jack doesn’t fit underneath the car, NASCAR teams have to use a piano bar to lift the car, and following that they then will place the jack underneath the car.
You may have experience using a jack to change a tire on your road car if you unfortunately ended up with a flat tire on the freeway. While jacks go ignored in the trunk of your road vehicle most of the time, they are major time savers when you need to use them. Well, in NASCAR, jacks are the ultimate time savers when pit crews try to provide the fastest possible service to their cars.
The reason NASCAR teams use the single-pump jack is so they can achieve the fastest pit stop possible, lest their drivers lose track position quickly. This is quite a different scenario from the type of jack used for your production vehicle, which takes at least a few powerful pumps to lift the car.
How NASCAR Jacks Achieve One Pump
NASCAR cars are nothing more than science experiments if you really think about it. And you can say the same for the jacks used by teams. The use of powerful hydraulics, combined with their aluminum construction, allows for a NASCAR jackman to provide one pump to lift the car. Then, they perform their tire-carrying task before maneuvering to provide the same service on the left side of the car.
The Jack Might Not Fit
This may sound unbelievable to you, but there are instances where a NASCAR jack might not fit under the car. This is actually a common occurrence. When you watch a race, you may have seen instances where a damaged fender may leave the front and sides of the car, making contact with the track surface.
To try and repair the fender and get rid of the mangled tire, a NASCAR pit crew must insert a piano bar instead of a jack. These long, sturdy bars provide better leverage than a jack would in such situations. This lifts the car just high enough for the jackman to slip the jack under the car so the crew can get to work repairing it.
Piano bars also have no actual moving parts, so they are nearly impossible to break. However, they require much more force than a jack would, so it shouldn’t surprise you if multiple members of a NASCAR crew are trying to leverage the bar in unison to lift the car onto two wheels.
KEY POINTS• NASCAR jacks are provided by Pit Boss and have been since 1995
• The jacks used in the sport are one-pump jacks, making for rapid pit stops
• Sometimes the jacks fail, requiring the use of other tools to lift the car
How Many Jacks Are Used In A NASCAR Pit Stop?
Only 1 jack is used in a NASCAR pit stop. In addition, only 1 jackman is part of the pit stop operations. They operate the jack at both sides of the car during a 4-tire change pit stop, lifting the car at one side until the new tires are fitted, and then doing the same at the other side.
NASCAR pit crew members are the most athletic people on the team. So you can already assume that a typical pit stop takes fewer than 14 seconds to complete. If you are new to NASCAR, you may not realize that pit crews only use one jackman and therefore just one jack during a pit stop.
NASCAR jackmen are so skilled in their job that it is second nature for them to spring to the right side of the car before their driver even enters the pit box, lift the car, and take off the rear tire before setting the car back down onto four wheels.
The jackman will then pick up the jack used for the right side of the tires, swing back around to the left side of the car, pump the car back onto two wheels, perform their tire carrying duty to take the old tire off or install the new tire, before lowering the jack to signal the driver to exit the pit box.
The jackman must also ensure that all four old tires are at least in contact with the pit wall before they tell their driver to exit, or else they will risk a penalty. The jack does not need to go over the wall or make contact with it. Instead, the jackman will pull the jack from the car, allowing all four tires to hit the track surface before they signal the driver to go.
How Much Does A NASCAR Jack Weigh?
A NASCAR jack weighs 22 pounds (10 kilograms). This is because they need the jacks to be lightweight so that they can be swiftly carried around from one side of the car to the other, allowing 4 tires to be changed and fuel to be added within about 12-16 seconds.
You may have used a jack for your road car to change a tire. And as you may have noted, they are not light. So with a NASCAR jack, you may decipher that their jacks will be heavier than jacks for the average road car. But this could not be further from the truth. Instead, a NASCAR jack weighs just 22 lb (10 kg).
And when you think about it, the lighter jack makes sense. NASCAR pit crews are always striving to provide the fastest possible service to their respective cars. And this cannot happen if the jackman is forced to haul such a heavy piece of equipment around, even if they were once either high-level collegiate or professional athletes.
This is why NASCAR jacks are made out of aluminum, a lighter, softer metal than steel or titanium. The jack for your road car is probably made from steel or even an alloy, comprising a heavier, harder metal than aluminum.
How Much Does A NASCAR Jack Cost?
A NASCAR jack costs around $1,850 for the Classic and Lo-Pro models. The Shop Boss Classic model costs around $1,950, while the Shop Boss Lo-Pro model costs around $2,000. This stands in stark contrast to many mass-produced car jacks, which sell for between $60 and $180.
When you compare the price of a NASCAR car to a road car, the former is much more expensive than its showroom counterpart. In some instances, the tools that NASCAR teams use are also more expensive. One reason is that for NASCAR teams to keep costs down, they like to invest in more durable equipment or simply equipment that will last longer.
Per Pit Boss’s website, the cheapest NASCAR jack runs at around $1,850 for the Classic and Lo-Pro models. These are the models you will often see NASCAR jackmen use during a pit stop. The Shop Boss Classic costs about $1,950, while the Shop Boss Lo-Pro costs about an additional $50.
Contrast the cost of a NASCAR jack with that of a road car jack. Many production car jacks sell for between $60 and $180, and although they are made from sturdy steel components, they do not contain the same hydraulic power that you see on a NASCAR jack. Meaning it will take more than a few pumps to lift your car.
KEY POINTS• NASCAR pit crews only have one jackman
• The jacks weigh about 22 lbs, or 10 kg
• They cost up to $2,000 depending on the specific model
Will NASCAR Use Air Jacks?
NASCAR may use air jacks in the future, but they are not currently a part of NASCAR. While there was some talk about air jacks when the Next Gen car came around, NASCAR still uses the standard Pit Boss one-pump jacks that they have used for many years now.
When the first revelations regarding the Next Gen car started swirling in late 2019, there was talk that NASCAR could mandate the use of an air jack. They were also talking about the possibility of adding a single lug nut option to the tires, which did become a reality. However, the air jack has yet to come into fruition.
The air jack would be a first for NASCAR, and it would take just one quick plug-in of an air hose, which lifts the car via internal jacks. This is something that we see in many other racing series worldwide, but air jacks have yet to become a fixture in NASCAR.
That’s not to say that NASCAR won’t switch to air jacks. The Next Gen car has brought many major changes to the sport. And with the fact the car can support hybrid powertrains, more changes may be in the making during the Next Gen’s life span. However, this may or may not include a move to air jacks.
NASCAR jacks work far differently from standard car jacks. They’re lightweight and made of aluminum, which is distinct from most car jacks being made of steel or a steel alloy. They use hydraulics, allowing the jackmen to lift the car in the air using just one pump, leading to a quick pit stop.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.