Jamie Rolewicz and Kevin Mahl of Champion Tire and Wheel in Cornelius are masters of logistics. Their company transports equipment to and from race tracks for race teams, mostly tires, wheels and pit equipment. The fleet of 26 semi tractor-trailers can be found at every NASCAR Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series event across the country, and they make it look easy. But as you drill down, it’s one incredibly organized operation.
It’s also a storage facility of a kind. Consider that teams purchase wheels (Cup cars use 12 sets per weekend, so that’s 64-68 wheels per car at about $130 each) and have them delivered to Champion. Champion warehouses and maintains each team’s inventory, and sees that it goes where it’s supposed to when it’s supposed to. Then there are pit carts. When Champion started in 2001, 14 pit carts could fit in a trailer. Now, with improvements in technology and equipment, that number has been reduced to four as the pit carts have grown in size. Each weighs about 4,600 pounds. Champion also transports ATVs and inventories and schedules transport for equipment for part-time teams as well. There was even a souped-up Best Buy buggy in the warehouse that only goes to a few events.
Inventory includes all team wheels; a single car might have 160 double stems and 100 single stems, the former for tracks more than one mile, the latter for tracks under a mile.
Old wheels go to pit stop practice or to show cars. Or if need be they can be recycled, but only after the $12 stems are removed. Old tires go to go-kart tracks or driving schools or tire swings. Tires can be shredded as well.
The 50-plus full time and 24 part-time employees include truck drivers who may be on the road for six to eight weeks at a time. Their job includes more than driving; they are the folks responsible for unloading equipment and delivering it to the proper pit area, as well as bringing it all back to load after the race. First to arrive and last to leave. As Rolewicz says, “My guys are the hardest working guys at the track. Even NASCAR pays us to set up the tech inspection area.”
The trucks are monitored by GPS, and Todd Carpenter gets instant-read messages if his drivers are speeding or idling too long. Inside the shop, fingerprint scanners have taken the place of time cards. A wheel wash and inspection process reads each wheel to see if it is in balance. A large-screen computer lists every wheel at the end of its inspection ride. Glue is even taken off the lug nut holes, by hand.
To learn more about services offered, visit champtire.com.