USA Weekend asked Rusty Wallace to give us the inside story behind the numbers we DON'T see on the TV screen during the Nascar races:
What's the cost of the average racing shock absorber?
At least $750, from suppliers such as Penske Racing Shocks.
The inside story: "These absorbers are like a piece of jewelry," Wallace says. "They're spun on a lathe and get anodized with a hard coating to make them more durable."
How many times is a race car washed on a race weekend?
At least four, according to Matt Kenseth's No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion team.
The inside story: "Too much debris could affect a car's performance," Wallace says.
Nearly all drivers stay in motorcoaches at the track. How many miles does the motorcoach driver log each year?
Tens of thousands. Scott Glasgo, the motorcoach driver for J.J. Yeley, who steers the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, drove more than 36,000 miles in 2006 as Yeley ran both the full Nextel Cup and Busch schedules.
The inside story: "If this is your job, you're going to have to love to travel," Wallace says. "After Sunday's race, you drive straight through to be at the next track by Monday night. It's not such a bad schedule. On Tuesday, you'll need to wash the motorcoach from top to bottom. But then you get much of the rest of the week off."
How much of the race-day winnings do drivers actually take to the bank?
Less than a third.
The inside story: "A person at Dale Jr.'s level is going to negotiate for 50% of that check," Wallace says. "The owner gets a big share, and you pay bonuses to the crew. Then, most drivers are in the 40% tax bracket. So, by doing the math: A $500,000 payoff -- which is extremely high -- is reduced to at least $250,000. Then take a 40% tax cut out, and you have $150,000, or less than a third of $500,000. But these guys aren't going to need a second job. They also get a team salary, and a top driver will make about $3.5 million, in addition to race winnings."
How many tires does a team go through in one race?
Between 12 to 20 sets.
The inside story: "It depends on the track, but, sure, you can go through that -- especially at an old track like Darlington," Wallace says. "The surface there can get so abrasive that if you run your hand along it, it will feel like sandpaper. As soon as you start the race, you'll feel the tires wearing down."
How many people does it take to support each driver on a race weekend?
24. At least that's what it takes for Kenseth's team.
The inside story: "We shouldn't need all of those people, but teams these days are so specialized," Wallace says. "You'll have a race spotter, an engineer, a crew chief and a scorer at the track. Then there are the garage and pit guys. Once, the guy who'd toss your used tire also put gas in the tank. Now, you'll have a guy lift weights and train all week specifically just to throw the used tire from the pit. And then another guy trains to put gas in the car. Everything is so choreographed these days. It used to be that a typical pit stop took 18 to 20 seconds. Now, the teams are demanding 12 seconds, because each second on a pit stop translates to 15 to 20 car lengths lost on the track. These guys will make $75,000 to $100,000 a year, too."