Pit crews perform one of the most grueling jobs in sports, and one mistake can lead to dire consequences for their driver. Since they spend so much of the year on the road working with some of the best drivers, you may wonder how much NASCAR pit crews make.
NASCAR pit crews make up to $80,000 per year on the low end, but experienced members in higher-pressure roles on the big teams can earn up to $300,000. The crew chief can earn more if his team performs well, and experienced crew chiefs can see their paycheck crack 7-figures.
Below, we will discuss how much NASCAR pit crews make by breaking down average earnings for each member. We will also discuss the pit crew’s function, go over their job descriptions, and reveal what makes their jobs so stressful.
Function Of A NASCAR Pit Crew
Without a well-functioning pit crew, NASCAR drivers would not taste victory lane. The pit crew used to be just mechanics providing service to the car. They were substantially slower than pit crews now. These days, a NASCAR pit crew is full of natural athletes, many of whom played college sports.
As of 2022, pit crews comprise 5 athletes that hop over the wall and provide choreographed service that includes changing tires and adding fuel to the car. They also allow a 6 athlete over the wall to provide utility service, like handing the driver water or cleaning the windshield.
NASCAR pit crews, unfortunately, are like NFL offensive linemen. They only get recognized if something goes wrong. Say a tire changer misplaces the lug nut. That will cost the driver time on the track, or if the tire carrier fumbles the tire and causes a penalty at the worst time.
But if you watch a NASCAR pit stop closely, notice the choreography. Once you watch a few pit stops, you will notice that to pull off such a choreographed stop, crews need to practice for hours both during the NASCAR season, and the offseason.
NASCAR Pit Crews Earn Their Money
While a pit crew will not earn the same number of figures as their driver, they still get a nice paycheck. You aren’t going to travel across the country for 36 points-paying events and spend time choreographing the perfect pit stop during the offseason for a few grand a year.
Remember, pit crews are working and traveling in excess of the routine 40 to 50-hour per week job. Like their drivers, they are also living in North Carolina and practicing their duties at headquarters, yet it is common to see them living 4 days per week on the road for 9 months of the year.
Unlike their drivers, they are not living in the infield at a motorhome and interacting with fans. Instead, NASCAR pit crews spend time at hotels when they are not at the race track, along with the rest of the team which includes the engineers, specialists, and mechanics.
From this sentiment alone, you can argue that a NASCAR pit crew makes a phenomenal living doing their jobs. But they don’t all earn the same amount of money. Tire changers, jackmen, and gas men earn different figures. And that is what we will dive into next.
How Much Do NASCAR Tire Changers Make?
The average earnings of a NASCAR tire changer is $1,500 on race day, which equals $54,000 per season across 36 points-paying weekends. But the keyword is race day. Annually, tire changers earn an average of $80,000 per year, but this largely depends on the team.
NASCAR tire changers are not the average tire changer at your local tire outlet. In the past, they had to keep track of 10 lug nuts, or 5 per tire, as they changed either the front or rear tires since pit crews employ both a front and a rear tire changer.
When NASCAR introduced the Next Gen car, they only needed to worry about 2 lug nuts, 1 per tire they were responsible for changing. This makes the job a little easier, but with 1 lug nut, they are expected to change those tires with even more speed.
Teams that are smaller will employ tire changers that earn less money, while larger teams will pay their tire changer more. Also, you must account for experience. The more experienced the tire changer, the more they will earn, and vice versa. The same goes for the other crew members.
How Much Do Tire Carriers Make?
The tire carrier has just 1 job: carry the tire from behind the wall and place it onto the car. However, if you watch a race on pit road, the tire carrier’s job is not as easy as it may look. Notice how they and the jack man, who also acts as a tire carrier, need to know exactly which route to take. If either the tire carrier or the jack man takes the wrong route, it will cost precious seconds.
Tire carriers often earn in the same range as the tire changer, so an average of $1,500 per race and $80,000 annually. This equals roughly $1,540 per week for both the tire changer and tire carrier across 52 weeks per year.
How Much Do NASCAR Fuelers Make?
NASCAR fuelers can make around $3,000 per race with an average salary of between $150,000 and $200,000 per season on the high end. Since being a fueler is dangerous and requires a lot of strength, they often earn more on average than the tire changers and carriers.
NASCAR fuelers, commonly known as gas men, are often the largest and strongest members of a NASCAR pit crew. You can tell who the gas men are because they are carrying those red fuel canisters and they also wear a silver fire-resistant apron. In the past, you could spot the gas man because they were the only ones who wore fire-resistant suits and helmets before NASCAR mandated both.
How Much Do NASCAR Jack Men Make?
NASCAR jack men can make up to $3,000 per race and between $150,000 and $200,000 per year, but experienced jack men can earn up to $300,000. Because the job requires so much responsibility, the jack men often earn the most money of the 5 primary crew members.
The jack man’s job is the most challenging of the other pit crew jobs, as they must know exactly when to lift the car and set it back onto the track surface. If the jack man lowers the car before the tire changers are finished screwing on the lug nuts, it will slow down the teams’ overall timing and cost them track position.
The jack man must also help place the tires onto the car, taking over one of the tire carrier duties. Therefore, in today’s NASCAR, the jack man performs multiple tasks, so they must have a predetermined route to run after they lift and lower the car.
They also tell the driver when to leave the pit, often by raising their arm. Jack men must ensure the left side tires are bolted in before lowering the car for the final time. And they also need to ensure the old tires are either touching or are over the wall, or else it results in a penalty.
Do NASCAR Pit Crew Members Get Paid Bonuses?
NASCAR pit crew members can earn bonuses every time their NASCAR team wins races, with bonuses varying between teams. This is why you see them celebrating so much in their pit box when their driver takes the checkered flag, as NASCAR is a team sport, and when the driver wins, the full team wins.
You may have incentives at your day job that you earn if you hit a specific sales number or performance milestone. The same thing goes for NASCAR pit crews. Therefore, the monetary figures you see listed above are nothing more than base incomes.
So how much do NASCAR pit crew members earn as a bonus? It is often between $300 and $500 per race, with tire changers and carriers earning on the low end of the spectrum while the fueler and jack man earns closer to $500.
NASCAR crew chiefs and spotters also earn winning bonuses. Crew chiefs will see an additional $2,500 per win on average, while spotters often receive a $500 bonus.
What Do NASCAR Crew Chiefs Do?
NASCAR crew chiefs are akin to the head coach on a sports team. They are the ones who decide how to fine-tune the car. They also manage the intra-race strategy, such as telling their drivers when to pit, whether they will take a 2 or 4-tire stop, and when to refuel the car.
The crew chief is also ultimately responsible for the car meeting both pre-race and post-race inspection. If their car fails inspection, the crew chief often takes the brunt of NASCAR’s punishments, which may include suspensions.
How Much Do NASCAR Crew Chiefs Make?
NASCAR crew chiefs can make up to $10,000 per race, which equals $360,000 on races alone. A NASCAR crew chief has arguably the toughest job on the team. But like with most stressful jobs, NASCAR teams reward them nicely, and very experienced crew chiefs might earn 7-figure salaries.
However, their annual earnings can dip to $200,000 if they are working with a smaller NASCAR team. Crew chiefs can also earn up to $1 million if they are either experienced veterans or if they work for a larger team.
What Do NASCAR Spotters Do?
A NASCAR spotter is one of the driver’s primary contacts during the race. Drivers can only pay attention to what is going on in front of and behind them, and so spotters let the drivers know about other important, potentially dangerous, occurrences on the track.
You will often find the spotters lined up in a designated area at a high vantage point. At larger tracks like road courses, teams may employ an additional spotter but this is a rare occurrence.
At superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega, where it is hard to see what is happening on the backstretch, the spotter will use binoculars to keep their eyes on their driver. And no matter how exciting things get toward the front of the pack, NASCAR spotters must watch their driver only. Some drivers don’t even bother with the camera and instead rely on their spotter.
NASCAR spotters must also let their driver know who is riding high toward the wall, or low toward the apron. Sometimes, they will refer to the high car as on top, and the low car as on the bottom.
One Of NASCAR’s Toughest Jobs
Next to the crew chief, being a NASCAR spotter is one of the most challenging jobs in the sport. They are responsible for walking their driver through wrecks and helping them avoid colliding with other cars.
During cautions, they might also confer with other spotters on potential in-race alliances and relay those plans to their driver. Therefore, NASCAR spotters must act as a mediator between their driver and an opposing driver and spotter.
They must also be 100 percent accurate with the information they are relaying their driver. Not just information of who is riding beside them both high and low, but the crew chief may also relay instructions to the spotter since they may want the driver to focus on just 1 voice on green flag laps.
Spotters are often standing for hours at a time, which only adds to the job’s rigors. Not just on race day, but also during practice. They have no shade to work with given their high vantage points. And if you see the spotters during an event, they are also bunched up shoulder to shoulder.
How Much Do NASCAR Spotters Make?
NASCAR spotters often make an average of $2,500 per race, or about $90,000 across 36 points-paying events. However, their annual income can crack 6-figures, and it is often in the $150,000 range, though experienced spotters can earn more, while newbies will earn significantly less.
NASCAR spotters are paid well for the stressful job they do. But the job is nowhere near as stressful as the crew chief’s and you can also argue it may not carry the same level of stress as the jack man’s job, considering all of their responsibilities in the pit box.
They often also receive $500 bonuses for wins – given the importance of their job, they’ve earned every dollar when their driver wins.
NASCAR pit crews can make between $80,000 and $300,000 per season, depending on their experience and which NASCAR team they are working for. Crew chiefs can earn even more money if their team performs well. Both pit crews and crew chiefs may earn bonuses if their driver wins the race.