Why do Some NASCAR Crew Chiefs Wear Fire Suits?

Published 10/24/2021, 5:30 PM EDT
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 16: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet, talks to his crew chief, Chad Knaus, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)


It would not take a genius to deduce that motorsport is pretty dangerous. So it isn’t surprising that in NASCAR, the crew chiefs sometimes wear fire suits. Most of the time, they wear regular clothes at the track, especially when they are in the pit box. However, there are occasions where the crew chief gets personally involved in the car’s mechanics.

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Additionally, the pit box is situated close to the pit stall. This means that there is a potential risk of a large pit fire. Owing to this, it is far more practical for crew chiefs to wear fire suits for the sake of safety. It is also worth mentioning that this rule was enforced in 2002. Furthermore, it was the first year that any pit crew member going over the wall had to wear a fire suit.

Why is it so important for NASCAR crew chiefs to wear fire suits?

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Back in 2007, Simpson Performance Products operations manager Dave Nelson, spoke about the suits. He said, “Our No. 1 goal has always been driver safety. That’s never changed. Nomex, a flame-resistant fiber made by DuPont, has been around for 40 years, and that’s what we use to make the suits. But the performance of our fabrics has changed, and even the function of the suits has changed.

LOUDON, NH – JUNE 27: Jimmie Johnson (R), driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, talks with crew chief Chad Knaus on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Aside from the crew chief, the same rules apply for over-the-wall pit crew members. As per reports, these uniforms need to have an SFI rating of 3.2A/1, a TPP value of six, and a protection time of 3 seconds. However, Nelson admitted that the above standards were just the minimum requirement.

At the end of the day, NASCAR is concerned with the drivers’ comfort and safety. He also said that while there is a minimum standard, the aim is to be above it. However, there is also the drivers’ size and weight to consider when the suit is decorated. Unfortunately, sponsor logos and other bits have a tendency to add weight.

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Dhruv George

12315 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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