Yoga Gets Race-y
Chip Ganassi's pit crew members are slowing down to speed up
You've seen them on Sunday afternoons, bolting around the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline car, helping NASCAR driver Juan Montoya get one step closer to victory with each new tire and screw. Like the race cars they service, Chip Ganassi Racing's pit crew is a well-oiled machine.
However, this machine takes more than a pit stop to reach peak performance. The combination of strength, precision, and speed requires hours of weight lifting, running, and grueling pit crew practices. But sometimes hours logged at the gym aren't enough to trim precious seconds on the track. That's why every two weeks they take a break from the clinking of weights and the buzzing of drills to stretch on mats, breathe deeply…and go om.
The Ganassi pit crew members hone their downward dogs and bakasanas at Dilworth's lululemon athletica. They started with a free introductory class, loved it, and now return for the hour-long sessions on a regular basis.
Ganassi strength conditioning coach Adam Mosher saw an immediate difference in his crew. "They're definitely more flexible, for sure," he says. "And with all that [yoga] comes more power, quickness, and better concentration."
While their race times haven't gotten faster, Mosher says the crew has a whole new attitude. "It's not so much a time difference as a personal difference," he says. "They have a better fitness level, they don't tire as easy, and their attitudes are better."
Marty Forcier, a deep-voiced, muscular front tire carrier and shot mechanic, instantly saw improvements and isn't ashamed to admit that yoga poses have become part of his pre-race routine.
"Some people think it's kind of girly," he says, "but I end up sweating more doing this than pit crew practices sometimes."