NASCAR has a history of suspending crew chiefs, and none more visible that the recent suspensions of Tony Eury Jr, Chad Kanaus (2nd time in just over 1 year) and Steve Latarte. This weekend at Loudon New Hampshire all three are not allowed in the garage area.
Now you would think that if these guys are suspended they would be sitting at home, kicking back with a beer watching tv, but reports have surfaced from the track that says no to this. It appears that the latest trendy thing for suspended crew chiefs to do is to come to work. Sure we know a suspended crew chief can go to work at the shop each day, and in the past we have known that they are communicating back and forth with their teams all weekend, but now it appears they are actually attending the track, not in their official capacity as crew chiefs, but as fans.
NASCAR of course could not do anything about this, as stopping anyone from getting into a public venue is almost impossible, so now we have the suspended crew chiefs all hanging out at the track, probably in a nice motor home somewhere high up, watching the action form afar, probably with a tv, and in constant, instant communication with their teams.
I know from my years in motorsport that the right person standing back form the action looking at the overall picture can be a huge advantage to a team. In my brothers earlier days of his career, he would come back to New Zealand every year for our annual Formula Pacific series in December/January/February (yes it is summer there during those months when it can be snowing on the East Coast of the US) and when my father had time if that year he was not too involved in the team, he would spend all his time standing back watching the other teams, watching our car on the track, and just generally standing back getting a view of everything that was going on. He would come back to us with some incredible information at times, stuff you just would never see while you had your head down working within the team. Usually in the pits you are so busy you just do not get a chance to see what everyone else is doing, whereas someone on the outside can see the whole overview.
With this in mind, could it be that these NASCAR teams with suspended crews are learning this valuable lesson and soon we may actually see the crew chiefs removed from their hands on positions, in favor of standing back and taking in the whole picture. Of course by then they will not be called Crew Chiefs, as the team still needs someone in control of the pit, but I am sure we will see a trend towards these superstar current crew chiefs becoming more like spotters, but for the team instead for the driver. I tell you watch this space ….