WELCOME, N.C. — At Richard Childress Racing, the post-race analysis begins Monday morning when four semis are unloaded from the weekend at Indy.
In the main shop, Sprint Cup crewmen have descended on No. 27, still muddy from the track. They’re taking it apart, piece by piece, to see what worked, what didn’t and what might be tweaked in the slightest way to run the car faster next time.
RCR is among the most recognized names in NASCAR, but the complex in Welcome is just one of 1,000 racing teams, tracks or motorsports businesses that call North Carolina home, according to the N.C. Motorsports Association.
For a sport with roots in bootlegging in the Appalachian region, stock car racing is an enormous economic engine in this state and beyond. North Carolina boasts 90 percent of NASCAR teams and more than 25,000 people in this state work in motorsports companies or related businesses. The motorsports association estimates the overall economic impact of the enterprise to be $6 billion in North Carolina.
Across the RCR floor on big metal plates, three cars are waiting for the finishing touches and the computer diagnostics as No. 27, No. 29 and No. 31 are readied for the next race. NASCAR fans gaze down on the sparkling floor from windows on the second floor fan walk, an observation deck just past the glitzy lobby and the historic photos that pay tribute to RCR’s legendary driver, the late Dale Earnhardt.
Besides the Chevrolet being picked apart, roughly two dozen cars line the main shop at RCR. But that’s just one room in one building among 15 at the RCR campus, where more than 450 employees make up one of the biggest operations in NASCAR.
There’s the gear and transmission room, the finished fab room, the paint room, the chassis shop and the engine shop, where massive $70,000 engines line the halls in preparation for testing on three dynamometers, or “dynos” as the technicians call them. In a gigantic weight room, pit crews train several days a week and study films from the previous weekend’s race.