Behind the scenes: The pits of Hayden Speedway


After the trophy race in the Super Street Division, Phil Goodwin's No. 29 car came hobbling into the pits. In less than five minutes it was diagnosed that he needed a new hose for his engine. Immediately the word was out along pit row and a hose that fit almost perfectly was delivered from another crew.

"That is what sets the Hayden Speedway apart from other race tracks," said Yampa Valley Race Association President Justin Gallegos. "All the pit crews work together and without the pit crew and family involvement the racing wouldn't be possible."

Gallegos speaks from experience as his wife, father-in-law and mother-in-law all race and pit for each other. On nights when all of his family is racing, they are trying to keep seven vehicles running.

Last year Earl "Tank" Hammond said he had a pit crew, but this year they have left him in order to race. His father-in-law, David O'Conor, and uncle, Mick O'Conor, all race in the Sport Stock Division against Hammond, but in between races they serve as each other's pit crew.

"We always help each other out in between races," Hammond said. "But when we are out on the track, it's every man for himself, none of that team stuff that happens in NASCAR."

One of the biggest pit crews at the Hayden Speedway is the group that wears white shirts with the numbers 3 and 75 on the back. They are the crew for H.D. Craig (number 3) and Zack Allen (number 75).

"Basically we just make sure everything is ready to go for the driver," said Jake Goodwin, a crewmember for 3 & 75.

"They are the fastest tire changers out here," Allen said of his crew.

"I feel like I've let my team down when I don't win," Craig said. "They get into it just as much as me sometimes."

Some pit members are there simply because they love cars, or they are friends with the drivers. Tyler Ott was helping out with Donnie Merrill's car Saturday because his roommate, Gregg Kolbaba, was a friend of Merrill.

"I like the competition of making things work under pressure," Ott said.

"I do some drag racing on other weekends and hope to have my own car out here soon," added Kolbaba. "So I'm just helping out a friend when there is nothing else to do."

When it comes down to it, pit crews are similar to the cars and trucks that race at the Hayden Speedway they come in all different shapes and sizes.

"We're all friends and it is fun to hang out and support our drivers," said Brandy Schankin, a self-described "mud scraper" for the 3 & 75 team. "It gives us something to do on Saturday nights."

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