Spotters Face Challenges at Indy
Aside from the road courses on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, the team spotter is generally perched high above the track on the frontstretch, to offer the best view of the action.
Typically, there is one spotter for each car giving him the sole responsibility of relaying timely information. But the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is far from typical.
Here, the spotters – and each team uses two – are relegated to speedway’s landmark Pagoda, located close to the frontstretch, but on the inside of the track.
“It’s definitely different than anywhere else on the circuit,” said Lorin Ranier, who spots for Jamie McMurrary, “with two spotters, you have to establish a definite hand-off point so we don’t talk over each other.”
The primary spotter is located at the rear of the Pagoda and covering the exit of turn one through the entrance of turn four. The additional spotter faces the grandstand and picks up his car off turn four and takes him through turn one. That position also takes charge of the restarts and pit road activity.
T.J. Majors, longtime spotter for Dale Earnhardt Jr, doesn’t relish not having exclusive contact with his driver.
“The hardest part is not being in control when your car is out of your sight. We’re all so used to giving our drivers the information and you get into a rhythm; but as soon as you lose him you feeling kind of helpless.”
Another challenge that presents itself is the lack of a clear view on the backstretch and into turn three. Jeff Gordon’s Spotter, Eddie D’Hondt explains.
“Once the car exits turn two, you’re dealing with a lot of trees, so you lose and find your car in split-seconds. Once they get to (turn) three, there’s a building there, which allows you to only see the roof of the car. It’s sort of like a high-speed treasure hunt.”