Chris Lambert: NASCAR's Unsung Heroes Spotter's Series

Ashley McCubbinAnalyst IMay 28, 2010

DARLINGTON, SC - MAY 08:  Brian Vickers, driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup series SHOWTIME Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 8, 2010 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

This week’s article features Chris Lambert whose been spotting for 14 years and is currently in his fourth year in Cup, paired up with Brian Vickers.


Ashley McCubbin: What is your job during the race?


Chris Lambert: My main job is to try and help keep BV out of any trouble or wrecks. I'm his and Ryan (Pemberton)'s extra set of eyes that can see the whole track and basically help them know what’s going on within the race. I let BV know where he's faster through the corners, which line is working, where he's getting beat by other cars, and just helping him all I can.


AM: What is your job during the pit stops?


CL: Mainly just reminding him of his RPM for pit road speed, let him know where the timing line starts, and drop him off to Ryan at 15 pit stalls away from ours. Then I watch other cars and see if anyone is getting two tires, four tires or just what they are doing so I can relay that info to BV and Ryan. Then after out stop is finished I clear him out of the stall and help him with traffic till the exit of pit road.


AM: What do you think makes a good spotter? Any certain recommendations/requirements?


CL: To be a good spotter you have to be able to multitask. You have to be 100% focused for about 3 1/2 four hours a race and help your driver in every way that you can, give him any advantage that you can. During any given race I may wear many different hats. I'm a punching bag when he wants to vent, a cheerleader when he needs to be pumped up, a psychologist when he needs to be calmed down. We all go through several different emotions throughout a race and we have to be that calming voice no matter what is going on, we have to stay positive and keep everyone else's heads up and digging.


AM: What are the best and worst tracks for spotting at?


CL: Best track as far as the easiest for me is Martinsville, because it's just a simple oval. The speeds are really low and it's just a small, simple track.


The worst for me is a tie. Either Indy or Watkins Glen. Indy we are on the Bogota that is INSIDE the track and you can only see half the track. We use two spotters there and break the track up in half, but the half I work is the back half, and we are looking through the trees from the golf course. The other is Watkins Glen, the road course, and there we are just blind. Again we use more than one spotter and break the track up in sections, but even then it's just hard to see or help much.


AM: What do you think of the criticism that spotters get immediately when it comes to incidents?


CL: I think for me personally, it's just part of the job, or comes with the job title. No one wants to be the blame for a wreck, especially if it really wasn't our fault, but to me it's just really "it is what it is!" I personally don't think its right for the spotter to bear all the blame, because we are not driving the cars, but we can contribute to an accident.


AM: How do you get along with the other spotters?


CL: I get along with all of them pretty well. I consider probably 10-15 friends and get along with certain guys better than others, but I don't have any issues with anyone on the roof.


AM: What's the hardest part about your job?


CL: Honestly for me it's the travel. I have a wonderful wife and two great boys that I have to leave every Thursday afternoon and don't usually get home till late Sunday when they are already in the bed.


AM: If you have worked with different drivers, what are some certain things that one driver prefers over another?


CL: BV likes a lot of info. He doesn't mind a lot of radio talk, especially when it's helpful to him. I probably talk to him more than any other driver I've worked with in the past.



NASCAR’s Unsung Heroes: Spotter Series

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Brett Griffin, spotter for Elliott Sadler

A View From Talladega

Lorin Ranier, spotter for David Ragan

Mike Calinoff, spotter for Matt Kenseth

Rocky Ryan, spotter for Jeff Burton