It seems like the adage “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it,” pops up in many places throughout life.
Here’s a motorsports example.
Often when at a NASCAR race, fans will inquire about the hot pass dangling from a credentials lanyard. They know it means access. Usually fans want to know how to get a hot pass that would allow them into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage.
Some fans with sponsor and team connections gain access to the hot Sprint Cup garage, but they are among a select few. Other select fans obtain a cold pass which allows them into the Nationwide and Camping World garages and into the Sprint Cup garage before race car activity when the race cars are not practicing or qualifying.
Most NASCAR fans don’t get any access to garage areas at NASCAR tracks.
Hot pass “in effect” times are generally 30 minutes before and after Sprint Cup practices and an hour before and after qualifying and race time.
All NASCAR garages have painted lines designating fire lanes through the garage for race car maneuvering. As the garage is a working environment, that space has to be reserved for moving vehicles.
So why should a fan be careful what they wish for?
A hot pass into the Sprint Cup garage means dodging race cars as they dart in and out of stalls into fire lanes that lead to the track.
Getting a hot pass issued is a matter of need. Team members and drivers obviously have a need to be in the garage. Media must be accredited and apply well in advance of race day. Fans must be invited by teams, the sanction or sponsors. Those numbers are limited for real reasons.
The active NASCAR garage during practice, qualifying and race time is a very dangerous area. Being alert is essential to all on foot.
This reporter/photographer has had a dedicated Internet quest for more than 14 years and it took 10 years to get a NASCAR Hot Pass routinely.
Race cars aren’t the only hazard in this active work environment. Crew members tow hand-trucks loaded with tires and equipment. They also pull wagons to deliver ice to cooling machines so engines can be brought down to acceptable temperatures.
Mechanics may work on a cold car first thing in the morning, but for most of the day they must work on hot cars with hot parts. Ice plays an important role.
Despite the working environment many fans insist they would take their chances just to get into the garage where their favorite drivers roam. Another garage fact is that drivers are more often behind closed mirrored doors of their haulers than outside or in garage stalls.
One more point to ponder about being in the NASCAR garage. If a race car hits a non-team member or a hand-truck runs into or over a non-team member—it’s not the fault of the driver or team member—it’s the victim’s fault.
So you still want to wish for a hot pass? Be careful, because if you get one you’ll have to be extra cautious.
It’s a lot easier to enjoy film and photographs from the comfort of your home or in the stands.
Many NASCAR tracks are removing old seating to install wider, more comfortable seats so fans can better enjoy a race.
Hot pass? Look out!
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained from official release materials provided by NASCAR and team representatives.
A crew member pushes tires to hauler area for preparation
Crew members often push tires, ice and parts from hauler areas to garage stalls in the NASCAR garage. They don’t have horns so all folks with a hot pass need to be alert. Good crew guys will shout, “Watch your back!” as they approach.
Brad Keselowski drives through the Daytona NSCS garage fire lane.
When NASCAR teams are practicing it’s routine for them to go out for a few laps or more and return for adjustments. The stalls are tight quarters so any one walking with a hot pass need to be watching for race cars as they go out and return.
NASCAR haulers are closed up when the race is underway.
NASCAR hauler areas are bustling with crew members, drivers and fans lucky to have a hot pass. But when it’s race time, the pit boxes are on pit road and so are team members and owners. Hauler areas look deserted when haulers are locked up.
Greg Biffle waves to fans as he walks through the garage
Greg Biffle waves and smiles at fans who have shouted his name from lofty viewing areas in the FanZone at Daytona International Speedway. Like most drivers, Biffle will spend a lot of down time during a race weekend in the hauler lounge.
Danica Patrick steps into her No. 10 Chevrolet for a practice run
When drivers are in the tight quarters of a NASCAR garage stall, they are usually getting ready to go out and practice or returning for adjustments. Sometimes they remain in the cars while crew members work on their cars.