News & Multimedia

IMSA Teams Look to Save Seconds When Swapping Drivers

The first two races of the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard, Friday’s IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar and Continental Tire SportsCar Championship endurance races, will see something that is common when you and I take a road trip, but is not something you usually see in racing—driver changes.
The IMSA season has races that will last anywhere from three to 24 hours long, so it takes more than one driver to get to the finish line. The teams and drivers focus just as hard on saving precious seconds during a driver change as they do on cutting down their lap times. Every second spent in pit lane is one that the competition is moving ahead at full speed on the track, so making the stop quickly is critical.
“It's a whole different aspect to our sport,” said Jordan Taylor, who drives the No. 10 Konica-Minolta Chevrolet Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing and shares with his co-driver and brother Ricky Taylor. “You can lose a lot of time, or you can be okay. For our team, we take the driver changes very seriously so every weekend, we practice. Every time we come in the pits during a practice session, we do a practice driver change. We try to get the driver change done in under 15 seconds.”
It takes three people - the driver in the car, a driver assistant, and the replacement driver - to work perfectly together and time all the movements just right in order to have a fast and safe driver change.
When the car comes to a stop, the clock is already ticking. While the pit crew jumps over the wall to start the four tire change and fuel, the first driver does his best to get out of the car as quickly as possible, loosening his belts on the way into the pit box in order to make quick work of the exit from the car. But it’s not just as simple as getting out of a car:
“As a driver, when you are called to the pits, you are already thinking about what you have to do; you've got an air hose connected to your helmet, a drink tube, a radio, netting in the car that you have to undo, the door to open and seatbelts to take off. So for the driver getting out, there's a lot to do,” said Ricky Taylor. “You can disconnect the air hose, the drink, the cool suit and loosen your belts a little (on the in-lap) but you can't disconnect the window net or the belts until you've stopped.”

The second driver then jumps into the car, with the driver assistant following him closely. The driver assistant focuses on all the safety equipment, including all the seatbelts as well as securing the window net, while the driver works to do the rest—plug the radio in, get the cooling equipment plugged in, and then makes sure the steering wheel is straight and he is ready to go the moment the door closes.
And while the job of changing drivers might seem to be straight forward, there is a lot that can go wrong in a short bit of time.
“A (seat) belt getting twisted up or the driver sitting on a belt,” said Jordan Taylor about the little things that can slow you down. “It's the things that you don't expect that happen; like your HANS device gets hooked on the window net. And then the guy getting in is so used to the guy getting out just popping out, you're not expecting that and then you're just waiting. You don't actually see what happens and then once you see it, two seconds are gone. Two seconds on a pit stop can be huge. It's the little things.”
Just like in a road car, another complicating factor is the fact that while most drivers are thin and good shape…they can still be different sizes. For most of the IMSA GT category cars, there is a solution that is familiar, as the seats actually slide back and forth to accommodate different size drivers.
“For my co-driver and I, the sliding seat in our Ferrari is pretty important,” said Jeff Westphal, who shares the No. 63 Ferrari 458 Italia with Alessandro Balzan. “He's ‘not so tall’ at 5’5" and I'm taller at 6 feet,  so there's a big difference and the sliding seat allows us to be as quick as a pairing of the same size when you do a driver change because our belts have to be different and so on and so forth. It's kind of one of the integral parts of us being successful at that.”
Getting it wrong can also have serious consequences, besides just the time lost.
“When you are racing somebody and you know you've got the belts done but you didn't have time for the drink or the air hose, you are not going to be thinking about getting anything hooked up,” said Jordan Taylor. “Then 30 minutes goes by and you are already overheated because you were so rushed!”
So when IMSA comes to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the end of the month, remember to keep an eye on the cars, even when they are in the pits!

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
IMSA Teams Look to Save Seconds When Swapping Drivers
IMSA Teams Look to Save Seconds When Swapping Drivers
The first two races of the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard, Friday’s IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar and Continental Tire SportsCar Championship endurance races, will see something that is common when you and I take a road trip, but is not something you usually see in racing—driver changes.
Read More
Related Media
Miller Lite Carb day
Legendary Band Journey to Rock Miller Lite Carb Day over Historic 100th Running Indianapolis 500 Weekend
The historic 2016 Indianapolis 500 weekend, culminating with the 100th Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, will kick off on Friday, May 27, with the legendary rock band Journey on Miller Lite Carb Day.
Read More
Kyle Busch
Monday Racing Roundup: Kyle Busch Wins NASCAR Sprint Cup Title at Homestead
Finishing off one of the most remarkable comebacks in NASCAR history—indeed, in the annals of sport—Kyle Busch won Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and, with it, his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Read More
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Monday Racing Roundup: Championship Foursome Set
A serendipitous sequence of pit stops and a drizzle that turned into a downpour made a winner of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday night’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the start of which was delayed from day to night by rain in the afternoon.
Read More
Hulman Terrace Club
New Hulman Terrace Club Offers Premium Seating for IMS Events
The Hulman Terrace Club, located on the outside of the front straightaway of the famed 2.5-mile oval past the exit of Turn 4, will feature more than 1,000 seats plus ADA-accessible seating for fans seeking a club option similar to what is offered at many other major U.S. stadiums. It’s the first new seating option at IMS in more than a decade and a key piece of the ongoing Project 100 initiative. Pre-sale registration is available here with tickets officially going on sale Dec. 1.
Read More
Stanley Cup and Borg-Warner Trophy
Borg-Warner Trophy and Stanley Cup Meet at Yard of Bricks
Two of the most iconic symbols of victory in sports - the Borg-Warner Trophy and the Stanley Cup - appeared together Thursday night for a photo session on the world famous Yard of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Stanley Cup appeared at IMS courtesy of the Indy Fuel, the ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 2,069
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at
Latest Tweets
What is your Favorite @JourneyOfficial song? Come out to hear it for @MIllerLite Carb Day! #DontStopBelieving
about 12 hours ago