NASCAR: Every Second Counts Helping Win From The Pits.
By: Mark Appolloni:
Introduction to the case:
NASCAR, The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, is the largest approved body of motorsports in the United States. In 2006, after 15 years of working in NASCAR racing as an athletic director for HMS, Andy Papathanassiou (known as Papa) began searching for the next breakthrough to improve pit crew performances and times. His innovative techniques and determination had successfully cut pit crews performance times in half because he introduced athletic training and much like chapter 3 in our book standardized (organized) practices to the process thus turning crew members into athletes. The introduction of pit crewmembers training as athletes revolutionized the motorsports industry and has made the sport what it is today. When Papa worked at HMS they were known for having one of the most intensive training programs in racing history. In addition to having athletic team members they also sought out motivated individuals who could transition their skills from athleticism into observation and skill under pressure in a competition. The pit crew team is much like the book we are reading in class where a cell in a manufacturing company works like this team to lean out their process and gain throughput but also cut down Muda or waste and improve cycle time. Crews have been known to train hard in the off-season over the winter. Team members lose weight and get physically fitter in the process just to obtain their goals. Some guy’s even train in the gym continuously.
Whether it was the person or the machine Papa studied ways to enhance the performance of the overall process. He introduced new improvements one after the other, one improvement might be less dramatic than the first but it may not necessarily be less important in the overall result or in the equation. In doing so, Papa created his own legacy in motorsports and transformed the sport of auto racing. His instincts promoted the theory that within the process of assigning pit positions there existed an opportunity that would improve overall performance of the race.
As you may be aware fractions of a second could determine the outcome of a race because it would give a competitive advantage of one team over the other. As the rules of the sport began to change and the sport began to evolve this way of thinking would be responsible for a breakthrough in technology. His years of experience led him to believe and promote that better ideas would come from outside the sport itself.
When it comes to professional racing, especially Nascar, all the race cars should be the same as far as technology goes and one car cannot have anything illegally different than the others to make them faster than the others so where does the difference lie as far as who wins and who doesn’t win? Well the answer is they all depend on one thing, the service they get during the race. This is where driver of the car and the race is won or lost. The members of his team called the pit crew, takes the spotlight. The seven people that make up the crew do their best to get the driver in position to win or lose the race. It took some time but NASCAR eventually realized the benefits of a professional and athletic pit crew.
In the beginning racing teams had a limited budget just like any other manufacturing company does and focused their limited resources on improving the cars mechanically rather than on the pit crew and therefore the attention was on only mechanical factors so the pit crew members had more of a mechanical background and therefore they were more mechanically trained than athletically trained. However in the same respect as for the driver it was discovered that shaving every last fraction of a second from the race time is critical for the pit crews as well. So much to the extent that even the slightest of delays during a pit stop could again decide the outcome of a...
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