Pit crews are often the unsung heroes of the desert racing world. They are a bit like offensive linemen in football – vital to a team’s success, but only noticed when they make a mistake.
The orchestrated frensy that is a pit stop is nothing new to the Murray crew (Photo by Tim Kessel)
Yes, during a race, a misplaced jack that severs a brake line or a lug nut that's left loose can derail a desert racing team’s chance for success. On the other hand, smooth, quick, and effective pit sessions can go a long way to saving vital seconds in close race.
This year’s UTV World Championship in Laughlin, Nevada, officially opened by placing the spotlight on those unsung heroes. Several of the top race teams entered the Pit Crew Challenge, and when the dust settled and the air tools quieted, the K&N-sponsored Murray Racing Team emerged as the fastest crew of the day.
The Murray Race Team Pit Crew with the spoils of victory (Photo by UTVWC)
In the round robin competition, each team engaged in several head-to-head pit races in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. Each team started the sessions in a staging box. After the announcer called the start command, a crew member hit a starting button, the team attacked the UTV, and the race was on. Two large digital timers told the tale.
The pit task was clear. Two opposing tires on the UTV had to be changed out - for example, a right front and a left rear. When the wheel swap was done, the full crew raced back to the staging box and hit the button to stop the timer. After each round of the competition, the lug nuts were tested to see if a time penalty was warranted.
K&N is a proud sponsor the the Murray Racing Team (Photo by Tim Kessel)
The winning Murray Racing crew did not have it easy. Several of the races were decided by a matter of seconds. In fact, one head-to-head round was decided by a fraction of a second. The best times of the competition were posted in under a minute.
While the competition was fun and friendly, there was no doubt that each team was fighting for pit supremacy. The 90 degree Laughlin temperature started to take its toll in the later rounds, but the Murray crew never lost a head-to-head on their way to the win.
For their efforts, the Murray Racing pit crew walked away with a new set of pit safety gear, a very cool golden trophy jack, and a year’s worth of bragging rights.
The crowd at the Pit Crew Challenge was large and enthusiastic (Photo by Tim Kessel)
The Pit Crew Challenge will appear on an upcoming UTVWC video (Photo by Tim Kessel)