It’s no secret that becoming a member of a professional pit crew is no easy task. Years of training and practice is often needed to ensure a race team’s pit crew is working both effectively and efficiently during the entire race. This is especially important for the pit crews that are chasing the checkered flag at one of the toughest endurance races on the planet; The 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Professional race teams at Le Mans are constantly working on shaving off a few extra seconds in the pits by focusing on achieving quick reaction times. When it comes to endurance racing, shaving half a second off a tire change or performing consistent pit stops throughout an entire race can mean the difference between a podium finish and going home empty handed. And for the pit crews at Le Mans, physical fitness plays an important role as well.
Keeping your strength and stamina up throughout the entire 24-hour race can be a challenge. If not done correctly, it could cost a team valuable time. Corvette Racing knows what an important role physical fitness plays into endurance racing. And for the last several months, the Corvette C7.R race teams have been utilizing weekly Crossfit workouts to stay in shape.
Since November of last year, the Chevrolet Corvette GTE-Pro Class pit crews have been working out at Grand Trunk Crossfit, in New Hudson, Michigan. The team has been focusing on the ten general physical fitness skills that make Grand Trunk Crossfit unique: Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.
Led by a team of professional CrossFit instructors, each class runs between 45 – 60 minutes and includes a basic warm up, mobility strength or skill work and what Grand Trunk calls the workout of the day (WOD).
The CrossFit Difference
We had the chance to talk with Grand Trunk CrossFit lead trainer Brooklyn Netherton this week. Brooklyn is the lead instructor for the 13 man Corvette team and responsible for designing a workout plan that would be tailored to the race teams needs.
Street Muscle: Thanks for spending some time with us today, Brooklyn. We understand you were the lead CrossFit trainer for the Corvette Race Team leading up to this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race?
Brooklyn: That’s right. The Corvette Race Team started working out at Grand Trunk CrossFit all the way back in November of 2016.
SM: How many Chevrolet team members did your gym train?
Brooklyn: We have 13 students total, and designed a program that consists of 60-minute CrossFit workouts, three times a week.
SM: What was the main focus for the group? Upper body, core, or cardio workouts?
Brooklyn: Our primary focus was improving overall body strength. One of the biggest challenges we faced was the different skill levels of each student. Even though the race team came into our gym in great shape as a whole, flexibility was an area that we focused on from the start to ensure each team member could handle the high-intensity pace that was involved with each 60-minute workout.
SM: Have you received any feedback from the team leading up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
Brooklyn: Yes of course. The pit crews reaction times have improved significantly over the last eight months. In the race and practice sessions leading up to Le Mans, the Corvette pit crews have been able to achieve 3 to 4 position increases during race days. The CrossFit workouts not only aid in the pit crew flexibility during race days but also help with maintaining personal stamina for the entire race.
The team is already proving that the weekly CrossFit workouts may be an effective tool as the Corvette C7.R captured the top spot last week in the GTE-Pro Class 8 hour test day at Le Mans.
In a statement made earlier this week by Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan to Autoweek, “This was a successful day by many measures for Corvette Racing, We ran through our planned program of different setups, tire settings, and other elements. It’s very gratifying to see all the effort that everyone at Corvette Racing — drivers, engineers, and crew — pay off with a solid eight hours today at Le Mans.”
It’s apparent that Corvette Racing is focused on getting the entire team ready to tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With eight class victories and a combined 18 wins for the six drivers, the team may now have the bragging rights of having the fittest pit crew on the planet as well.
The 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans kicks off this weekend at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017.