Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Touring Charlotte's local Race Shops! This episode: Roush Fenway Racing!
When we first pulled into Roush, we saw some of their cars off to the side in their pit road practice area. My son and I walked over just to watch them start the cars and pull back into the garage. It was toward the end of the day, so we'll have to come back one morning and watch them practice. It was worth the small walk to feel the rumble of those engines and take a brief whiff of the ethanol fumes. This area of the facility was by far the best "pit road practice" area of any of the race shops. Hendrick Motorsports has a pretty nice pit practice area, but it's not obvious- you'd have to ask someone to see if the crew was allowing spectators on that morning, then they'd direct you to that area. This one is obvious and, while there is a fence present, you can still walk up pretty close to the action.
Here's the one downside to Roush, there's no glass windows for onlookers to watch them working on the cars. Lucky for me, I have a former student who is now one of the "simulation engineers" on Roush Fenway's team. Unlucky for all of us, they wouldn't let me take pictures inside any of the facilities... apparently they are very covert in their operations at Roush. (I've heard rumors over the years of engineers dressing as tourists down in Daytona, just to get good pictures of their competitors cars!) No matter, we had a great time walking through every building of the Roush factory. We saw where they actually manufactured the chasis and went from room to room to see how they built each car from the ground up. I think we saw over 60 cars that day- from naked chasis to complete and ready to be loaded on the hauler. This of course, is not the average Roush experience, so I'll take you back to the museum.
The Roush museum and shop is pretty impressive, even without the view of the engineers at work. They have numerous cars from past and present drivers, a large auditorium with a movie playing about their team, multiple trophies, this amazingly wrecked #60 (in picture), and my sons favorite part, their race simulator. Notice how gingerly he turns the wheel and the car has already spun out. In all honesty, I tried after he did and only made it to turn two, but I took a few cars down with me in a blaze of glory. It was the end of a day, and there were hardly any other people there, so we spent about twenty minutes on this game and it was the highlight of the museum.
On a last note, Petty Motorsports is in a smaller facility right there on the grounds of Roush, but on this day they just happened to be closed. We'll have to stop by another time!