Is there espionage taking place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage?
Rodney Childers believes so.
The crew chief of the No.4 Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series posted a picture to Instagram on Saturday evening of a fan atop the Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The “fan”, dressed up in a Kyle Busch t-shirt, was taking pictures of the cars and engines with a professional camera.
Here’s what Childers captioned the photo:
“Love the access to the fans at the neon garage at LV motor speedway.. But pisses me off that other teams have people go up there and take pictures under the hood of competitor cars..” followed by an angry emoji.
Teams spying on each other is nothing new in the racing world. Team members have always been on high-alert when they see fans taking pictures of the cars, sometimes even asking them not to take photos when the engine or other serious parts of the cars are visible.
“It’s always been that way,” said Childers on Sunday morning.
The Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway provides fans up close and personal access that not many other tracks can offer. Fans can go up on top of the garage stalls and look on from above as the teams work on the cars throughout the entire race weekend.
The fans see the Neon Garage as a glaring positive, but for some of the team members, including crew chiefs like Childers, it can easily turn into a nightmare.
“The teams pay people or have employees go up there and take pictures of the cars and people’s screens and on the computers and everything else,” said Childers.
NASCAR is fiercely competitive nowadays. The idea that teams are spying on each other just goes to show how important any little advantage is in the sport. There’s a large number of advanced technologies and gadgets floating around the garage area that help the teams find more speed and better handling on race weekend.
In order to stay competitive in the sport, teams need to be able to keep up with other teams. Whether they like it or not, they are always under a watchful eye with any move or change made to their cars. But Childers noted on Sunday morning that despite knowing that other teams may be spying on them, he knows that his team has never sent anyone in disguise to look at what other teams may be doing.
“We haven’t, but I know some of the other manufacturers have done that,” stated Childers.
Another example of the idea that teams keep a close eye on each other took place last year when Matt Kenseth flipped at Talladega Superspeedway. The TV camera angles easily caught a view of the underside of the No.20 car as if flew through the air and FOX announcer, Jeff Gordon, quickly made note of the fact that many of the teams were probably going to take advantage of the unplanned circumstance.
“I can tell you a lot of teams are going to be freezing those shots to look underneath this car when they leave here. It’s not often when you get to see what’s underneath them,” said Gordon during the broadcast.
Eavesdropping is something that has taken place in the sport for many years. All the team members are aware of the situation and have been looking for it for awhile now. But dressing team members up as undercover fans may be something that some don’t know has been taking place.
Spying, espionage – call it what you want. But NASCAR is a sport that features incredibly close competition, and it’s important to note that trying to find an advantage on other teams doesn’t just take place on the track.