Thursday, November 30, 2006

No Charlie Brown Christmas

The crew will be pulling double duty over the holidays prepping cars for next year, so it’s only fitting they should be surrounded by holiday cheer. Some major holiday party planning (ok, cramming) was underway today including the most important detail - choosing a venue for the big bash. Soiree Restaurant & Bar won our vote and lucky for us, still had a date open. Other companies booked their venue back in June, but that’s just not our style. We do our best work under pressure and the pressure is on with the party a mere two weeks away. The holiday planning got us in the mood for holiday decorating so a 7 ½ foot tree was trimmed in the TRB lobby. Now if only we could figure out how to get “A Charlie Brown Christmas” playing ‘round the clock – now that would put everyone in the holiday spirit.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Crosstown Traffic

While Manhattan prepares this week for the annual NASCAR Awards banquet and the parade of Cup cars past Times Square, across the East River a shaved-head, goatee and tattoo bearing photographer named David Lindsey Wade is busily shooting the Team Red Bull drivers and cars for 2007. To keep things interesting, the No. 83 and No. 84 Camry showcars didn't get built until late last week and didn't get decaled until Monday down in Carolina. Then the Puma driver suits didn't arrive to Manhattan from Italy until Tuesday at 3 pm, thanks to a UPS mix-up. Murphy's Law notwithstanding, the first day of the shoot down in the Dumbo area of Brooklyn went as planned. A Toyota documentary crew were there to capture it. The highlight of the day was the No. 83 spinning donuts on the cobblestone streets while puzzled New Yorkers (including two NYPD Movie TV Unit officers) looked on in amusement as the car narrowily missed street poles, parked cars, onlookers and the photographer. According to the documentary director, that definitely made the final cut for the show that will air next February.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

'Tis The Flu Season

Travel the Cup schedule and you’ll see the inside of more airports, airplanes, hotels, and rental cars than you will your own home. Lots of travel also means exposure to lots of germs – and lots of places where you can catch the flu. Lori from Medicap Pharmacy didn’t want our crew guys getting sick on the road so she set up a mini-clinic in the breakroom to give flu shots. Joe was brave enough to let us watch him get his flu shot and he didn’t even shed a tear. Not all of his counterparts were as brave claiming - “I avoid flu shots like the plague” and “I’d rather get the flu than get a shot.” If only your mothers could hear that.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Puma Gear

Chad from Puma was at the shop today fitting the crew for some brand-new racing duds for ‘07. Puma provides racewear for top-teams in F1, Champcar, IRL, and just about any series you can think of, so we figured it was only suiting that our drivers and crew should get nothing but the best. The racesuits will be custom-cut, sewn, and stitched in Puma’s facility in Torino, Italy, and custom-dyed to match Team Red Bull’s distinctive blue coloring. Their racesuits weigh in at just around 4 lbs before any embroidery is added, and in a world where races can be won or lost in the pits, these performance advantages can make all the difference. Chad's primary concerns are safety and performance, but he also wants AJ up to par with the stock car style. He convinced him to surrender his open-wheel, tapered leg firesuit for the boot cut firesuit deemed cooler by most NASCAR drivers.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Feast Fit for a Crew

Jared, Josh, Billy, Daniel, Hans and Kelly (photo) prepped for tomorrow’s big Thanksgiving feast with a team lunch of turkey and all the trimmings. Unfortunately today they had to get back to work after their meal, but tomorrow, well that’s another story. The Bull shop will be closing its doors in honor of the American holiday. The First Thanksgiving was a celebration of the harvest, but modern day Thanksgiving - turkey and trimmings, holiday parades, shopping sales and back-to-back football games - has people wondering…is the turkey or the pigskin the featured course of the day?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Big Ol' Jet Airliner

It may be racing’s “off-season,” but tell that to the travel coordinator for a Cup team, and they’re likely to break into fits of laughter. Abbie McDade is TRB’s very own in-house, full-time, go-to gal for every logistical detail, and often logistical nightmare, from private jets to commercial flights, rental cars, and hotels for 36 race weekends, dozens of tests, and more than 90 crew members year-round. What are Abbie’s hours? “I work 24 hours a day, in the office, at home, at night, on the weekends…” (We cut her off there.) She’s also the lucky one to get the phone call at the crack of dawn or middle of the night if any travel detail doesn’t go exactly as planned. Talk about being “on call!” That’s all I can tell you about the grind of being a travel coordinator - she just kicked me out of her office because she has work to do. Here’s a photo of how TRB will be rolling in style next year - in a 52-seater DC-9 twin-engine jet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving Gift

What’s grey and white, weighs in at a whopping 2 lbs and was found meowing in the cold underneath the TRB dumpster? Ok, you figured it out – it’s a kitten! It didn’t come wrapped with a bow, but it was definitely a surprise that came just in time for the holidays. The little fur ball is fierce (ok, maybe not in this photo) and if it weren’t for the construction dangers at the compound, she would have made for one heck of a race shop cat. The blue-eyed baby needs a home, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find her one. Maybe Vickers will take her. He already has a Siamese named Caesar that travels in his motorhome, so what's one more traveling cat?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pay Dirt!

A Team Red Bull shout out to fellow Cup owner and driver Robby Gordon for pinning his Red Bull Trophy Truck to the Mexican asphalt (that'd be dirt) in dominating this year's Baja 1000 off-road race. Robby and his 2nd driver Andy McMillin had a flawless, 19-and-a-half-hour run from Ensenada to La Paz. Robby drove the first 752 miles of the course before quickly helicoptering and grabbing a jet ride to Miami-Homestead this morning for his Cup duties. Today's victory turns the tide on a recent string of bad luck in Baja (last year he busted a left rear shock one-third of the way into the race). Click here for cool helmet-cam video of a Red Bull Air Force skydiver delivering the Baja 1000 start flag yesterday. He nearly takes out drivers at the start line. Yet, another successful jump. Ditto for Robby. AJ and Brian, ya better get those Tundra's tires warmed up.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

All In The Details

For those hankering for some “real” race shop news, here’s an informative piece to satisfy your craving. Do you know what a wheel band is? Maybe not, but if you’re mildly race literate then you know that hundredths of a second can separate the race hero from the race zero. Fabricator Phil knows it because he’s been hanging bodies (slang for attaching sheet metal to a race car) and grinding sheet metal for five years. Attention to detail is everything, even when it comes to something as simple as a “wheel band.” The wheel band is a narrow piece of sheet metal that’s used to line the rim of all four wheel openings. It’s welded on every inch and a half to keep it in place, and then grinded (see Phil and his grinder) to smooth down the tacks. Sure, the smooth surface makes the wheel band look prettier, but more importantly, it’s one more detail that helps ensure the car passes template inspections.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Got Milk? Or Chikin?

Speed round the corner at Rolling Hills Rd en route to another morning at TRB and you’ll see a cow standing on the side of the road. Ok, a man (or woman?) standing on the side of the road in a Chik-Fil-A cow suit attempting to lure innocent drivers in for morning biscuits. Most of the time it works and drivers fall prey to temptation. You can try to avoid it by rolling up your windows before you get to the corner or avoiding eye contact with the cow, but your efforts are sabotaged by fellow drivers honking, waving, and taunting the cow. Some rude drivers even take pictures - much like the one you see in this photo. There’s only way to avoid the temptation to “Eat Mor Chikin” and that’s to enter work off Williamson Rd.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Speed Shopper

AJ’s speedy on the race track - and even speedier when it comes to shopping. In true male fashion, he likes to get in and out of a store as quickly as possible. He recently relocated to the “NC” and stocked up on the necessities of a true bachelor pad – a TV, stereo, microwave, and bed. After a few qualifying runs through local furniture stores, La-Z-Boy warranted a return visit to pick up a sofa and chair (photo), with some tricky delivery instructions to accommodate his travel schedule. Shopping really drained him so it was off to the Fox and the Hound to refuel and make a friendly wager on the Colts vs. Patriots game. AJ betted against the Colts and forked over 90 bucks for his bad decision.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pit Crew U

Team Red Bull pit crew tryouts are currently underway at the PIT Instruction and Training facility in Mooresville. The 5 OFF 5 ON Race Team Performance group provides placement and consulting for existing and aspiring over-the-wall gang members. Held at night under the lights at the state-of-art PIT facility (it's a blue and grey concrete building next to Robert Yates Racing) under the watchful eye of TRB's pit manager, split second differences between pit stops are analyzed by video clips on a nearby laptop immediately after each round. Who will make the cut and get the chance to fly into each race weekend for that all-important job that lasts less than 15 seconds a stop. Bet it is a pretty good pay per second rate. But job security can be as loose as a lug nut.

Friday, November 10, 2006

T Minus 99

It’s crunch time folks! Well not quite yet, but there’s only 99 days left until the season kickoff at Daytona. A clock on the wall of the race shop serves as a daily reminder…tick, tick, ticking down the days. Daytona itself is a two-week adventure. Saturday night’s Bud Shootout is an event so elite that only pole winners from the previous year are invited to race. Vickers sat on the pole at Texas earning a VIP invite into the race. Score for the 83 crew! Sunday’s Bud Pole Qualifying gives teams their first shot for the Daytona 500. Those that miss the grid get a second and final chance to qualify in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel. Competition will be fierce - sixty-some cars are expected to turn up, meaning dozens of Daytona hopefuls will be sent home.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

TRB 7, Roush 6

Oh yes, it feels good, even though a few of the shop's best are a little sore-legged. The Team Red Bull flag football team scored its first victory, a sweet one against Roush Racing, last night in Kannapolis. After a rugged and scoreless first half, TRB quarterback Deep Dish threw a bomb into the endzone, which got scooped up by Dreadlockz1 (he of the long flowing dreadlocks) for the TD. The succesful extra point proved necessary as Roush made a late push with a TD as the end of game neared. But the all-night stingy TRB "D" broke up the 2-pt. conversion and held off another late charge by Roush to get the W. Take that Jack.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Need for Speed

After tooling around on Cup cars all week, the last way mechanic Brian Davies should want to spend his weekends is, well, tooling around on a race car. Not the case. His ride of choice – a Honda CR 125 shifter kart with a dirt bike motor. Brian likes nice toys, but fessed up to why the chassis and motor are brand spanking new – “I destroyed my old kart at Road America last year. It was a massive wreck!” Brian escaped unscathed and went on to finish 5th this year at Barber Motorsports Park and 6th at Road Atlanta (photo) in the road race series of the World Karting Association. His kart can crank out 130 mph and even boasts the same power-to-weight ratio as an IndyCar.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Q) What do you get when you put four Chief's and many Indians into one race shop?
A) A TRB weekly team meeting.
A post-lunch meeting brings full bellies together to meet new employees and talk team news. The message is always changing, but the end to every meeting stays the same - words of encouragement. Heads were hanging a little low after missing the race three times in a row, so the Chiefs told their tribe to buck up, “Tough times don't last - tough people do.” No new employees this week, so the quality control manager was the lucky candidate to be voted into the circle. We'd like to tell you what they learned about Jeff, but what happens in the team meetings, stays in the team meetings...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Red Tripin'

1,085 miles from Fort Worth to Mooresville.
150 gallons of fuel capacity.
77 miles per hour average.
14 hours behind the wheel.
7 states.
6 Red Bulls.
1 fuel stop.

“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again…” Eddie just came off a 14-hour open road adventure (see photo), so he’s not too antsy to get back on the road again. It took 6 Red Bulls, 7 states of Oldies tunes and a co-pilot named Red Dog to get the team’s motorhome safely back to Mooresville. With all the amenities of an upscale condo – living, dining, kitchen, bed, 1 ½ baths, and 4 plasma TV’s – it’s no wonder a Mountain Aire comes with a $400,000+ price tag. Sorry folks, the hotel on wheels already has reservations booked up through next year as sleeping quarters for the team's VP of competition and a race weekend office for the engineers.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Don't Mess with...

Well, a little slow today in getting a blog posting up. Traffic was slow coming back from the track after qualifying. In fact, things just were slow all day. Plain and simple, the No. 84 didn't make the field for this weekend's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. During practice the car swung from feeling "tight" to the other spectrum of feeling "loose" by the end of practice. Drawing the third from last qualifying slot was a boost, but when it was all said and done, the 29.0 sec. run wasn't enough to get in the show. Back to "tight" the driver said. On the positive side, the last qualifier and TRB driver-to-be Brian Vickers (in No. 25 GMAC car) eclipsed the track record with a 27.5 run (196.235 mph) to take the Pole Award, which means one thing: Brian and the No. 83 get into the Bud Shootout next February at Daytona. So how about that for an emotional rollercoaster, all in the span of a few minutes at the end of qualifying.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Growing Pains

Rounds of cheers and applause erupted from the compound (or just from Facilities Manager Mike Good) when TRB broke ground on their fourth building. (See exclusive spy photo of broken ground.) Plumbing work will soon be underway, so let’s hope the construction crew got their hands on some better maps. The plumbing to the trailer was busted yesterday leaving some folks bathroom-less. Oops! The two-story building will house engineers and management up top and car storage or rumors of a fitness center underneath. Mike divulged top-secret plans for a second-story catwalk connecting building four to a swanky lounge area tucked in the top corner of the race shop.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Peel & Stick

Decal techs spend up to 4 hours laying vinyl decals on the No. 84 car before it’s pretty enough to hit the race track. (See photo for a sneak peek of Marty and Drew decaling the Texas car – a soccer-themed paint scheme featuring the New York Red Bulls.) Tape measures are for wimps so these guys rely on their well-trained eyes to lay down decals. After all, no decal is permanent - simply peel it off and apply a new one. It’s just like pulling off a band aid, but the car can’t say “ouch.” To keep their hard work from flying off in 180+mph speeds, a squeegee is used to smooth down the decal, and a heat gun helps seal the decal on tight.