Pit Stop Tips and Techniques

4/10/2004 by John Adams

Copyright:© 2004 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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If you look at the results from most of the major gas races, you'll find that many races are won by mere seconds. At the recent Silver State Gas Championships, the top 3 finishers in the 1/8-scale 45-minute A-main were just three seconds apart. Needless to say, pit stop strategy plays an important part in gas racing. Dynamite's newly released fuel gun is designed to provide fast, consistent fuel fills with very little practice or learned techniques. To optimize your pit stop strategies, we've put together the following tips:

Do The Math

  1. During practice, it's important to do a fuel mileage check. Have your pitman fill the tank and run the car at race pace while timing how long your engine will run on a tank of fuel.
  2. Calculate the pit stop intervals based on the length of the main. For example, a 30-minute main would look like this:

    1 stop

    15 minutes

    2 stops

    10 and 20 minutes

    3 stops

    7 ½, 15 and 22 ½ minutes

    4 stops

    6, 12, 18 and 24 minutes

    5 stops

    5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 minutes

  3. Using the fuel mileage time from #1 above, go down the pit stop interval list to determine the fewest number of stops that can be safely made without running out of fuel. For example if the fuel mileage check gives a runtime of 7 minutes, 20 seconds, you'll need to plan for 4 stops at 6 minutes between each stop. Pressing for 3 stops would be disastrous, as your chances of running out of fuel would be likely!
Team JR member Anderson Yau demonstrates a perfect pit stop at the 2003 IFMAR in Ohio.

Pit Stop Practice and Consistency

  1. Practice pit stops before the main. During practice, it's a good idea to also practice pit stops. This will help you and your pitman become comfortable with the procedure. Your pitman should call you to pit by clearly calling your name while your driving on the straightaway (I.E. Jones pit this lap). You need to acknowledge that you heard him by responding (OK). Accurately drive to your pit box at a comfortable speed (don't drive too fast). Stop right at his hands.
  2. Be repeatable and consistent. The key to consistently fast pit stops is to develop a good procedure and repeat it every time. A typical procedure might look like this:

    a. Fill the gun with fuel.
    b. Call your driver to pit using the same easy to understand phrase each time.
    c. Listen/ look for his acknowledgement.
    d. Reset the stopwatch to zero.
    e. Approach the pit box and place the gun in your preferred hand.
    f. Lift the car from the pit box.
    g. Open the fuel tank lid, using the same motion and method each time.
    h. Insert the nozzle of the gun into the tank.
    i. Pull the trigger while watching the tank.
    j. Release the trigger immediately when the tank is full.
    k. Set the car back in the pit box and raise your hands to let your driver know he can drive away.
    l. Restart the stopwatch.

The key is to repeat the exact same procedures and motions each time. Speed and confidence will automatically come with practice. And with some practice, you'll find doing pit stops in less than 3 seconds is possible!

Other Tips

•  If you've chosen a conservative pit stop interval that allows you enough fuel to stretch out your pit stops by several laps, your pitman should consider pitting you when the pit lane is clear of traffic. This will help to avoid crashing in pit lane and will reduce the time in the pits due to avoiding traffic.
•  Many racers add a tie strap or other device to the tank lid to help open the tank. Look around in the pits and you'll see several clever ways that racers make opening the tank lid faster and easier.
•  With some tanks, it's hard to see when the tank is full. On the bench, using the fuel gun, count (one, two, three) and see how long it takes to fill the tank. Then during the pit stop, count when the trigger is pulled and release the trigger when the full count is up, ensuring a full tank.

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