CONCORD, N.C. – Tires. They’re arguably one of the most important parts on a race car.
If they’re not properly installed or taken care of, it could cost a team the whole race.
So how exactly does a tire specialist operate?
This week, we caught up with No. 88 team tire specialist Rob Lopes to get an inside look at his life and day-to-day duties.
1) The New Jersey native got into racing as a teenager. He started racing dirt modifieds and before long, got a call to come down south.
“I was racing at 15 years old in Carnage Point with dirt modifieds,” Lopes said. “In about the early to mid-‘90s, I got a phone call from a friend that wanted to know if I would interview for a position on a team in what was at that time, the Busch series.”
2) A normal day on the job for Lopes depends on the day of the week. At the racetrack he manages the tires for the No. 88 Axalta Chevy, ensuring everything is ready for the car to hit the track. However, when he’s at the shop, it’s a different story.
“When I’m at the shop, I do whatever needs to be done,” Lopes explained. “From mechanical work to helping out in the fabrication shop. I can wear many hats and deal with more than the tires.”
3) His favorite part of the job, is the job.
“My favorite part is getting up and coming into the shop every day,” Lopes said. “I like what I do, I’m happy with it. I made a lot of friends, learned a lot of things and seen tons of things. I truly enjoy every aspect of what I do for a living.”
4) Lopes travels with the NASCAR Cup Series 36 weekends out of the year and wouldn’t have it any other way. He enjoys all of experiences and memories accumulated over the years.
“There are so many different places I’ve gone that are unique,” Lopes said. “I’ve made some good friends in many different areas – decade-long friends, that make each track and area we go to every year even more special.”
5) In his spare time, Lopes likes to relax.
“I ride my motorcycle on occasion,” Lopes shared. “Most of the time during the season on a day off I’m just doing what folks that don’t race or travel do on their weekends. Maybe running errands, but mainly just relaxing and chilling out.”