That “behind the scenes” can almost provide the same feeling and effect if someone saw how a magician did their tricks. They lose their feeling of being a fan to someone who knows the details of how things are done and their attitude of magic takes a sad turn.
From covering short tracks to Cup, one can easily see the tough job of a tech inspector. They are pretty much the law enforcement in racing. Their say and how they interpret rules is basically right up there with any law enforcement officer.
When a driver drives on the highway and gets pulled over for just going a few miles over the speed limit, the tech official can relate to why they disqualified a driver for just being 0.3% over on their left side weight allowance at a short track event or millimeters over on a laser inspection machine.
It’s a thankless job that the tech inspector has to do week in and week out.
Yes, just like there are police officers who get a thrill of pulling someone over because of a violation, one can assume that there are tech inspectors who are out to find something illegal to disqualify a car.
But, there are more law enforcement officers who don’t take pleasure in pulling someone over and yes, there are more tech officials who would rather congratulate a winner then tell them they can’t keep the victory.
We are a society that has a little anarchy in our blood. We like to test the thresholds of what those limits are that we must abide too in anything we do in life. If the speed limit says 55, how many of us are thinking, it’s OK to do 60 and not get stopped?
Race teams have the same thinking, how far can we go past what the rule states and not get into trouble?
There are tech officials who see rules as black and white. If the rules give a little tolerance, that is the tolerance.
Why is there a tolerance? Well, NASCAR pretty much answered that question with their recent adjustment to their LIS rules. Basically they said that anything within their P1 to P3 area really didn’t have anything to do with the performance on the track. But a P4 level could have that performance effect.
Some could argue this when a car is disqualified in a short track race for just barely being over the allowance of left side weight. But tech officials may say different because of their tolerance limit.
This is something more towards the short track level, but sometimes rules are put in place to help control the cost to go racing.
One example of something in this area was when Chase Elliott was disqualified from the Snowball Derby in 2013 for having tungsten in his car. This expensive metal may or may not have played into his finish on the track, but the rules clearly stated that this piece of metal was and still is not allowed as weight in a car. The main reason it’s not allowed is because of the cost.
Auto racing is basically a “monkey see, monkey do” society. When one person has or does something, everyone else has to do it.
Tech officials have to stay on top of these changes, in fact, they practically have to be ahead of it. Many times, they are cutting off ideas at the pass to stop it from getting out of hand and them losing control. Especially when it comes to safety for the driver, there you find practically a zero tolerance for any safety apparatus that will protect a driver from a crash, fire or any other dangerous situation.
They also are not afraid to talk amongst each other and share ideas or items that they are seeing come across their scales. Some may be surprised at the little fraternity that tech officials have among themselves, which is pretty funny when a team tries to pull the wool over one official’s eyes thinking that another doesn’t know something.
Tech officials want to see an even playing field. They feel that if they get that even playing field, that they are doing their part for the promoter in presenting a quality, competitive event.
They tolerate a lot of grief and at the same time…respect. It’s very rare when you see a team admit they didn’t follow a rule, get disqualified and shake the tech official’s hand in respect of doing their job. Because most of the time, the tech officials are getting yelled at worse than a Drill Sargent to a Private during Basic Training.
Like law enforcement officers, they are there to uphold the rules set forth for everyone to compete in a race event.
Give them a break…they are just doing their job.