In the Pits with Liz Snyder

Liz Snyder focuses on the work at hand during race day for the No. 7 Cup team.

When you’re at the racetrack, it’s a total body experience.  As a fan, journalist, racer, official, or pit crew member, your senses take on an absolutely incredible four hour spectacle of sights, smells, and sounds that essentially make that track turn into a NASCAR beach.

Liz Snyder may not drive on the track to make those bold, daring passes for the win but she has a pivotal role for three NASCAR racing teams.  On most weekends when the Sprint Cup, XFINITY, and Camping World Truck Series are at the same track, Snyder can be found working for Tommy Baldwin Racing, Derrike Cope Racing, and Premium Motorsports, primarily specializing with the tires for those respective teams.

Call it a mad dash in the garage area or hands on work but it’s the kind of pressure and atmosphere that Snyder absolutely thrives in, giving it all she’s got each race weekend.  Her racing story is quite relating as her passion for the sport started at home, particularly with her father.  Simply put, watching it on TV and being in the grandstands wasn’t enough to satisfy her hunger for racing.

Much like many of the greats in the pits like Ray Evernham and Chad Knaus, she’s meticulous with details.  When she’s at the race track, it’s her arena and workplace to focus, excel, and be a catalyst for her teammates.  For those who may think that the heroes of the garage and pits simply focus on executing tire changes and adjustments, there’s a lot more to it.

These brave men and women are tenacious, competitive and driven. The tools around them are very much like the steering wheel and pedals of the stock cars for these racers whose work place is behind the pit wall and in some cases, going over that wall to be lightning pit stop warriors.

Snyder has worked diligently to make a name for herself in this competitive sport.  To date, her breakthrough moment took place earlier this year when she joined the the No. 7 Chevy SS team with driver Alex Bowman and team owner/crew chief Tommy Baldwin.  It’s a testament to the effort and dedication put forth by Snyder and there’s plenty of more great moments in store for this young Californian.

While the racers generally get the praises and attention by fans and the press, let’s not forget the men and women on pit road, in the garage area, and in the shop.  Much like the drivers, folks like Snyder travel on the road and they often rise above the occasion and take on a very challenging day tackling factors like the weather or on track incidents calling for those unsung heroes to answer the bell.

This isn’t a sport for the weak.  Instead, it’s for those who look at those skinned knuckles and knees as badges of honor and the blood and sweat as symbols of the hard work exerted on race weekends.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s head out to the track but instead of the “cozy” driver’s seat, let’s walk right over and head “In The Pits with Liz Snyder” here on The Podium Finish!

Rob Tiongson :  We all know the moment in which we get bitten by the racing bug.  When did that moment happen for you and what drew you into motorsports, particularly with NASCAR?

Liz Snyder :  When I was little, I always watched it with my dad and loved it. When I was 11, my dad took me to my first Cup race at Fontana and I was hooked from there. I love how everything works and how much goes into even the littlest details.

RT :  What moment in your career thus far would you describe as that instant that you felt truly welcomed in NASCAR?

LS :  Probably at the beginning of this year, I missed the first race of the year and when I came back, everyone, even people I didn’t know well, was asking me where I was and they were glad I was back.  Then when I made the move to Tommy Baldwin’s team towards the end of May, everyone was congratulating me on the following week about my new job.

RT :  You’re a part of three competitive NASCAR efforts with the Tommy Baldwin Racing effort in the Cup side, Derrike Cope’s XFINITY team, and the No. 94 Camping World Truck Series brigade.  How do you balance those efforts when those three series are at the same track and would you call it an adrenaline rush when working with all of your teams in one day and weekend?

LS :  I’ve learned to have a very good system with time management.  The teams work great with me knowing that I’ll get there as soon as I can. Some days are a rush to be running around between everything and other days, it can be exhausting but I couldn’t think of anything else I would want to do.

RT :  Describe how race day goes from your perspective, starting from pre-race inspection all the way before closing time at the track.

 

LS :  When I first get to the track on Cup race day, I get our start tires set to tech pressures and to the car.  From there, I make sure our pit crew knows which tires to take out to the stall and what order they go in.

Usually, I help get tires out to the stall.  Once I make sure the pit crew has everything they need, I get all my tire stuff back to the hauler.  By this time, the car is usually ready for the pit crew to check.  As soon as they are done, we get in line for tech inspection for the race.  All of that normally happens within three to four hours.  By the time we get through tech, we usually have around two hours before the race so I head to the pit stall and start getting all the tires close to our race pressures.

I get back to the hauler about an hour and 15 before race time.  I will get something to eat as we start our team meeting.  From there, I get my bag ready and get my radio on as I head to the stall for the rest of the time until the race is over.

I stop by the stall to get my computer out and set up.  Then I head to the car to get ready to set tire pressure usually 20 minutes before race start time.  Once my tires are set, I stay at the car until after the national anthem and then I head back to the stall and get ready for the race.

During the race, I am constantly setting pressures and rechecking to make sure they are correct.  During stops, I roll the left rear tire and catch the left rear that comes off.  Once the stop is over, I check hot pressure and do wears on all the tires.  I type everything into the program we use and take it up to Tommy for him to see.  That continues until the race is over.

Once it’s over, I make sure all my tires and tire carts get back to Goodyear.  We load the trailer and then head to the airport to fly home.  Race day on the Cup side is usually my easy day of the weekend.

RT :  We’ve seen how the grueling summer conditions have put a toll on some of the racers and teams.  How do you combat against the extreme elements and do you have a particular workout regime to keep sharp each week?

Snyder's hard at work as she pays close attention to her work.

Snyder’s hard at work as she prepares her team’s equipment prior to the asphalt arena showdown.

LS :  I don’t really have anything particular that I do to handle the grueling summer except for always staying hydrated.  Even if I feel water logged, I keep drinking water and Gatorade as I rarely ever drink soda at the track. One thing that has helped with some of the heat is my pit practice.

Practice is usually in the sun or in our indoor facility which does not use air conditioning.  It’s usually 20 degrees warmer in there and it makes you have to adjust to the heat and get use to the grueling temperature when you are doing stops.  At the track, you can have up to 15 extra pounds of fire proof weight to you on top of sitting in the hot sun.

RT :  Who are some individuals in racing and in other sports that you draw inspiration from with your own efforts in our sport?

LS :  One that I just recently found is Lisa Smokstad over at Hendrick Motorsports in the tire department.  She’s been around for a while and never lets the guys stop her or put her down.  Lisa encourages me every time I see her to stick it to the boys and show I’m better.

RT :  Let’s do a little Free Association here where you’ll tell me the first thing that comes to mind with the following words, starting now!

Danger.

LS :  Life

RT :  Ambition.

LS :  Determined.

RT :  Favorite track.

LS :  Vegas.

RT :  Family.

LS :  My rock.

RT :  Rivalries.

Racing is indeed a total team effort.

Racing is indeed a total team effort.

LS :  Team.

RT :  Intensity.

LS :  Competition.

RT :  NASCAR driver whose personality and style closely matches yours would be…

LS :  Brendan Gaughan.

RT :  When you have that time to prep up before a race or when you’re unwinding from a busy day at the track or shop, who are some of your favorite musicians or bands that you listen to?

LS :  It changes every day but lately it’s been “Falling in Reverse” by Pink, “I Prevail,” and “Sugar Cult.”  My all-time go to is Billy Idol and Elvis Presley.  On days I’m on the chip, usually, I’ll listen to Beethoven or Debussy to relax me.

RT :  In late May, you officially joined the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing effort.  When you got the good news, how was it like and does this year in general feel sometimes like a dream despite how busy it’s been?

Snyder's attention is on getting those tires right for her driver and team on those fast but busy race weekends.

Snyder’s attention is on getting those tires right for her driver and team on those fast but busy race weekends.

LS :  I was excited and nervous at the same time because going to a new team is always a nerve wracking experience.  You never know how you’ll work with new people.  It’s a great feeling to be able to keep moving up in the garage.  It’s definitely a big step in the right direction.

RT :  Ultimately, what would be your biggest goal in terms of your racing career?

LS :  I would love to get some wins and hopefully score a championship under my belt.

Author’s Notes :  I’d like to thank Liz for being a wonderful interviewee for our readers here on TPF!  Her story is certainly inspirational and there’ll be many more amazing moments coming soon.  All of the photos in this piece are courtesy of Liz Snyder.  If you’d like to learn more about Liz, please “Follow” her on Twitter now.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. Born and raised in the Boston, MA area, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, you'll likely see an article on The Podium Finish by either myself or one of my talented columnists who absolutely have the motorsports passion.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *